By Jonathan Mundell
This past Saturday Bishop Loverde celebrated a Vigil Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in celebration of consecrated life. Four of our consecrated men in Youth Apostles (Fr. Ramon Dominguez, Fr. Tom Yehl, Peter Clem, and Jonathan Mundell) were honored to join for this celebration. As we sang the entrance hymn, our two priests were among the thirty priests (religious and diocesan) processing toward the altar. Peter and I were seated with consecrated men and women from about twenty different communities. Also in the congregation were parishioners of St. Thomas More and lay faithful from other parishes in the diocese.
Rev. Mark Mealey, O.S.F.S., a religious priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, was the homilist. His homily, of course, focused on consecrated life. He spoke about how the consecrated are called to live a more intensified Christian life and how we must go out into the streets. He focused on three points from Pope Francis about ministering to others: the art of accompaniment, the virtue of tenderness, and being a person for others. He spoke of how the art of accompaniment is the gift of our presence to those most in need and is connected to the art of listening. This true listening is the openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which spiritual encounter cannot occur. The two questions he asked as he spoke about the virtue of tenderness were: “How do we welcome the tenderness of God?” and “Do I allow God to love me?” He pointed out how much the world needs the virtue of tenderness today. And lastly, he spoke of how being a person for others means that we are called to sacrifice, to live and serve the other. He encouraged us to invest ourselves in fulfilling the needs of others.
As the prayers of the faithful began, Peter Clem and I went to the back of the church with Carmen Briceño (All Saints), Sr. Irene Cody, R.S.H.M. (Marymount University) and two other religious sisters. The six of us were chosen to present the gifts. What an amazing experience it was to process with my brother and these consecrated women and present to the bishop these gifts of bread and wine which would become the Body and Blood of Christ! I reflected on what gifts God is calling me to present to Him, little though they are, so that He can transform them and use them to bring others closer to Himself.
After communion, Bishop Loverde expressed words of gratitude. He spoke of being grateful to the consecrated men and women in the diocese and those who have gone before. He asked the Lord for many new members to these communities and encouraged the laity to be open to this vocation. He quoted Pope Francis in saying that this Year of Consecrated Life is to look to the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope. To cap off the night, there was a reception following the Mass. The bishop was kind enough to take a picture with the four of us which was a great blessing! How wonderful it is to be part of the Catholic Church and to be consecrated to the Lord in Youth Apostles!