A wake-up call to joy

Religious urged to awaken the world during Year of Consecrated Life

Prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life  O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen —USCCB Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations

O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen —USCCB Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations

Wake up the world!” is the rousing theme to the Year of Consecrated Life honoring religious men and women, which starts this month.

The wake-up call is taken from Pope Francis’ remarks when he announced the special year, which begins the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, and runs through Feb. 2, 2016.

“A radical approach is required of all Christians,” the pope said, “but religious persons are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way: They are men and women who can awaken the world.”

The awakening is for all Christians to live the good news of salvation as a joyful, life-transforming event, which consecrated persons profoundly model by leaving everything to follow Christ.

“I want to share a message and the message is joy,” Pope Francis said in a letter to religious from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life. “Wherever consecrated persons are, there must always be joy.”

Archbishop Samuel Aquila will open the special year in the Archdiocese of Denver with a 10:30 a.m. Mass Nov. 30 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, during which women religious jubilarians will be recognized. All are invited to the Mass to celebrate the gift of those in consecrated life.

“The Year of Consecrated Life is a time to rejoice in the past with gratitude, to look forward to the future with hope and to live the present with as much fervor as possible,” said Religious Sister of Mercy Sharon Ford, listing the three goals of the year.

As archdiocesan director for consecrated life, Sister Ford is on the planning committee for the local observance along with Msgr. Bernie Schmitz, vicar for clergy; Capuchin Franciscan Father John Lager, national chaplain for FOCUS campus ministry; and seminary professor Sister Esther Mary Nickel, a Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Mich.

Archdiocesan events will mirror those happening in the universal Church with the aim of helping people learn about consecrated life and the contributions religious make to society. Upcoming events include men and women in religious formation giving their testimonies at colleges, an increase in the number of discernment activities offered and a series of public lectures next spring. The talks will be given by Sister Nickel, a professor of sacred theology, on Vatican II’s “Perfectae Caritatis,” the Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life.

The Year of Consecrated Life, noted Sister Nickel, also marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and its documents, “Perfectae Caritatis” and “Lumen Gentium,” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

“We’ll go back and look at what the Second Vatican Council gave us,” she said. “For religious, it’s a call to wake up the world for joy. We are to be a witness to the hope and mercy of Christ.”

In “Lumen Gentium,” she added, the council fathers recovered the Church’s universal call to holiness.

“Before the council, many people thought priests and religious were called to holiness, but no one else. That was completely wrong,” Sister Nickel said. “We are all called to holiness.”

“Religious men and women,” she explained, “are those set apart— consecrated—to be holy. It’s a particular call, a particular vocation.”

Those who are consecrated pursue lives of perfect charity through the virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience. Their apostolates include teaching, caring for the sick, the elderly and the homeless, running parishes, and offering retreats and spiritual direction.

There are many forms of consecrated life, including living as a member of a religious order in a convent or monastery as religious sisters, brothers or priests, or living as a consecrated woman either in a community or alone—who may work for the Church or in the world, or living life as a hermit.

Contemplatives, nuns and monks who spend their lives praying for the Church such as the Discalced Carmelites in Littleton, the Poor Clares in Denver, the Benedictines in Virginia Dale and the Trappist monks in Snowmass, were given a special task for the year.

“Pope Francis has asked them to pray for many graces and blessings for religious,” Sister Nickel said.

The special year offers an opportunity for religious and laity to reflect on their individual vocation and shared call to holiness, Sister Nickel said.

“Every vocation in the universal call to holiness has a tremendous effect on the whole body of Christ,” she said. “I don’t have a spouse or a family, but my vocation is to serve those who do. And laity are called to foster vocations to consecrated life and to marriage.”

“St. Paul says we all have a part and a mission in this great body of Christ,” she continued. “It’s important to ponder that, and to work in collaboration with one another for the new evangelization.”

YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE

Opening Mass

When: 10:30 a.m. Nov. 30
Celebrant: Archbishop Samuel Aquila
Where: Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1530 Logan St., Denver
Lecture Series

Topic: “Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life”
Presented by: Sister Esther Mary Nickel
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 24, March 25, April 30
Where: Bonfils Hall, St. John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver

Resources
Visit www.archden.org to link to resources including prayer cards and a video.

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.