Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
Laughing after presenting the gifts to Archbishop Alexander Sample at the closing Mass for the Year of Consecrated Life are Sister Kim Chi Bui of the Adorers of the Holy Cross, Sister Bernadette George of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and Loretta Matulich, a consecrated Virgin.
Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
Laughing after presenting the gifts to Archbishop Alexander Sample at the closing Mass for the Year of Consecrated Life are Sister Kim Chi Bui of the Adorers of the Holy Cross, Sister Bernadette George of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and Loretta Matulich, a consecrated Virgin.

Local observance of the Year for Consecrated life closed Jan. 31 with a Mass at St. Mary Cathedral. In the crowd with regular Sunday night worshipers were pods of religious sisters, brothers and priests, plus monks and several consecrated virgins.  

Archbishop Alexander Sample told the crowd it’s proper that the Year of Consecrated Life concluded during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. “In a sense, consecrated women and men are the heart of mercy of the church, especially toward those most in need among us,” the archbishop said.

He cited St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th century French Carmelite who discerned that her vocation was to be love.  

“Isn’t that what your life is all about in the Church?” the archbishop asked. “You show forth the love of God in the world in a very powerful way.”

The archbishop thanked religious for their schools, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other ministries, which he said “witness to the love of Jesus.”  

Those in consecrated life profess solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in one of the many kinds of groups in the Catholic Church — including religious orders, religious congregations, private associations of the faithful and secular institutes. Official hermits and consecrated virgins, women who live in the world but take the vows, are also part of consecrated life.  

This kind of life has been part of the church from the very beginning, as is evident in the writings of St. Paul and stories of hermits in the Middle Eastern desert.

At the cathedral on Jan. 31, consecrated women and men stood and received a round of applause from the congregation and then renewed their vows.

The year has been “a way to count blessings,” Benedictine Brother Cyril Drnjevic of Mount Angel Abbey said on his way into the Mass. “We couldn’t do it alone, we depend on God’s grace, we depend on the prayers and support of many people. It is part of being God’s community.”

Sister Maria Gabriel Standfield, a member of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, called the year a “reawakening and a reinforcement.” She promotes vocations in her Beaverton-based community and the special year offered more opportunities for her to speak at schools and parishes. To listeners, she recommends prayer, stillness and trust.

“God will lead you on the path he has for you if you are willing to go on the trip,” she says.  

Events came through the year in western Oregon. The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon hosted a prayer seminar in September. Nine consecrated virgins from the U.S. gathered in Portland for a retreat.  

The Archdiocese of Portland is home to three consecrated hermits. “Hermits do not do it for themselves. They do it for God and for the church,” Sister Mariam Sharbel Vianney told the Sentinel last year.