Bishop Alan opened the celebration with a word of appreciation. “I want to thank all you Religious,” he said, “for the generous offering of your lives and the many gifts at the service of the Church which you have given: lives of dedicated service and prayer and witness.
“So many of you have been involved in teaching, in mission and healthcare, in pastoral care in the parish and in prison. Many of you have worked in very difficult circumstances and in many other parts of the world. Today your generosity and courage are recognised and acknowledged by the Diocese and the Church.
The occasion was the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, or Candlemas. There was a special section of the ceremony for the blessing of candles, representing the light of Christ.
In his homily, Bishop Alan focussed on the theme of obedience which ran through the readings. “Today’s feast reminds us that Jesus came to do not His own will but that of the Father,” he said. “For the Son of God obedience meant first of all a life of humbling Himself.”
The Bishop went on to explore what this meant for his listeners: “We must all set out on the path of obedience in imitation of the Lord. This new and vigorous way of living, radical as it is, is something which you dear Religious brothers and sisters have taken up in one of its most radical forms – poverty, obedience, chastity. It is the way in which you are invited to continue to tread with joy and perseverance as you present Jesus to the world.
“So we join you in thanksgiving for the precious gift of consecrated life. May the Lord renew in you’re a joyful response to His freely given and faithful love.”
Pictured above are the concelebrants at the Mass: from left to right: Fr Keith Tulloch MS, Sr Camilla Oberding COLW, Fr Leszek Rygiewicz SChr, Bishop Alan Hopes, Fr Waldemar Śmiałek MS, Fr Karol Porczak MS, Fr Gregory Pearson OP and Fr Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard OSB.