East Anglia celebrates 28th annual ‘Day of Religious Life’

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East Anglia celebrates 28th annual ‘Day of Religious Life’

Over 50 religious members gathered at St John the Baptist Cathedral to mark the 28th annual ‘Day of the Religious Life’, observing the Presentation of the Lord. Fr Karol Porczak MS reports.

It is a tradition for the Bishop of East Anglia to extend an invitation to all the religious of the Diocese to celebrate the universal Day of the Religious Life, this year taking place on February 2, which commemorates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This year it was the XXVIII (28th) day of that event introduced by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1997.

The liturgy in St John the Baptist Cathedral gathered over 50 female and male religious presently living in the Diocese of East Anglia. Due to the absence of Bishop Peter caused by the flu, the Eucharist was presided over by Fr Karol Porczak MS, the Episcopal Vicar for the Religious.

Fr Robert Verrill OP, the prior of the Blackfriars Convent in Cambridge, delivered the homily. At the beginning, he reminded those present of the motive of that Day, quoting St John Paul II: “The Presentation of Jesus in the temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one’s life for all those who are called to show forth in the Church and in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels, the characteristic features of Jesus the chaste, poor and obedient one.” He described the consecrated life as an example of faith, hope and charity; in particular, the consecrated life brings hope and a longing to be united with Christ: qualities highly needed in contemporary society.

After the homily, all the religious had a chance to renew their vows of chastity, poverty and obedience as well as “other obligations specific to their own Communities”.

At the end of the Eucharist, Fr Alan Hodgson, the dean of the cathedral, expressed his warm welcome on behalf of Bishop Peter, who was unable to attend the venue and make his address as the host of the celebration.

During the lunch served in the Narthex, Fr Karol delivered a short address to all the sisters and brothers present, underlining the contribution of religious life to the pastoral care of the parishes around the diocese. There is no need to hide the reality of the lack of vocation, but life goes on in the trust that God will provide the solution for all the needs of the Church. We experience the tremendous change of times with the challenges calling for immediate action. In ageing communities, the religious still hold to community life, prayer and sacrifice in respect to their growing limitations.

After the lunch, Fr Karol presided over the solemn Vespers of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the cathedral, which concluded the Day of Religious Life in the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia in 2024.

Annual Day of Religious Life, St John's Cathedral, Feb 24