Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Franciscan Day with Sisters of Life
We held a shortened day of recollection Saturday for Secular Franciscans at St. Leo's in Hilton. Father Anthony Baetzold of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal lead the retreat, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, and conducting a Benediction Holy Hour. And David Valenzuela, who had been with the Friars, but has felt called to serve outside the order (while still working with it when he can), led the music.
But the highlight of the day was the presence of two Sisters of Life.
Sister Mary Loretta Graffeo (above)
and Sister Veronica Sullivan shared the history of the order and their ministry.
They were created in 1991 by Cardinal John O'Connor in New York. They take the three traditional vows that women religious take - Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience - but also take a fourth vow: To protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. As such, they work with women in crisis pregnancies and individuals affected by abortion, run retreats, evangelize and work with the Respect Life in New York.
Sister Veronica said the ministry with pregnant women is not intended to humiliate them, but rather "to restore their God-given dignity."
The order is growing, There are now more than 100 sisters, and many others in formation. The average age of the sisters is 34. Yes, average age. Many older congregations don't even have a single member that young. But the growth of the Sisters of Life is typical of congregations that embrace Church traditions - including the wearing of a habit.
They were delightful, and full of joy. Indeed, as Sister Mary said, "There is no Sister of Life without joy."
Pax et bonum