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Wake up the world in San Antonio

January 07, 2015 | posted by Brother Stanley Culotta, CSC, MD

Topics: Vocations

Wake up the world in San Antonio

Yes, that is what Pope Francis wants to do, to “Wake up the World!” Pope Francis has announced that the year 2015 will be “The Year of Consecrated Religious.” And who is he speaking to? He is really speaking to everyone but first and foremost he is speaking to the consecrated religious. These are the priests, brothers and sisters who are members of religious congregations founded to serve some particular social or church need. The many churches, schools, universities, hospitals, Catholic institutions and services memorialize these founders and their faithful followers. But Pope Francis and the consecrated religious know that these bricks and mortar alone will not fulfill his directive to “Wake up the World.”

These gifts to our archdiocese did not come about by chance. It was the commitment of consecrated religious living and bringing into reality the spirit of their congregations. It is easy to take for granted the existence of St. Mary’s, Incarnate Word and Our Lady of the Lake universities. The many Catholic elementary and secondary schools conducted by religious sisters and brothers. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital, the many parishes founded and served by the Oblate and the Franciscan Fathers. These and many more gifts of consecrated religious are benefitting the entire San Antonio community. It was not for publicity or financial return that these gifts were founded. It was the consecrated religious living their constitutions built on the charisms of their founders.

Today these apostolates founded by consecrated religious are as valuable to the San Antonio community and the Archdiocese of San Antonio as they were in the years when they were founded. They are not duplicated by the civic community. Religious schools, hospitals, social agencies are not and cannot be duplicated by the civic community. Why? Because religious entities offer whatever the civic community offers but they also include the message of the Gospels. Have these great services been so full, so comfortable and so generous that the world has been lulled to sleep? Is there complacency about the future availability of consecrated religious? Is this why Pope Francis has issued the directive, “Wake up the World?”

Pope Francis wants the church to be attractive. By their witness consecrated religious can and must make the church attractive. Their witness must exhibit generosity, detachment, sacrifice, self-forgetfulness and care for others. Addressing the spiritual and social needs of society is the dedication of consecrated religious “to care for others.”

The request of Pope Francis, to “Wake up the World” is simple and familiar. He is asking all consecrated religious to “reconnect” with their founders, to know and reabsorb their spirit and charism. These qualities are the soul of the constitutions that are fulfilled in the apostolic mission. By living their constitutions with the same intensity as their founders, “You will be able to tell them by their fruits.” (Mt 7:16) Society will recognize that the religious life is vibrant and attractive. Yes, consecrated religious can “Wake up the World.”