Consecrated Life honored in diocese
As they came together to celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Life Feb. 1, various members of several religious communities later told The Catholic Virginian what had led to their entering the religious life.
Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, who presided at the liturgy held in the chapel of the Diocesan Pastoral Center, thanked those who had come for their witness to the world. The event was sponsored by the diocese’s Office of Vicar for Clergy.
A few of the women religious had a professional career before they answered the call to religious life.
Among them was Bon Secours Sister Vicky Segura, a native of the Philippines who had been a physician and practicing pathologist in Long Island, N.Y., for seven years “when I felt there was more to life than being a physician.”
Sister Vicky, who is on the staff of Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, felt attracted to the ministry of Bon Secours, a French-based community whose translation means “Good Help.”
“I was attracted to a life of service to the sick and dying and changed my specialty to palliative medicine through Bon Secours,” she said.
Sister Saturnina Pascual of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, who is at St. Matthew Parish in Virginia Beach, said she wanted “to give more and felt that I could do this through the religious life.”
Sister Regis Mellon, a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Richmond, is from Boston. She entered her community in 1947 and made first vows in 1949.
While in college, she said she even cut classes to go the Little Sisters’ home in Somerville, Mass., to help the sisters with the residents.
“There was a young lady and she invited me to go with her,” Sister Regis recalled. “She was planning to enter, but didn’t tell me. I continued to go and then the following year I entered.
“I think it was the love of the sisters,” she said when asked what inspired her. “The Little Sisters were so welcoming.”
When asked what has been her greatest joy in the religious life, Sister Regis bubbled over with enthusiasm.
“First of all, it is the love of God and realizing we have a wonderful apostolate,” she said. “There’s not another like it in the world. It’s marvelous when you think about it.”
One sister admitted that she had difficulty in entering the Little Sisters of the Poor because of the reluctance of her mother who refused to sign a release form allowing her to enter.
“I wanted to enter at 16,” said Sister Marie, a native of Scotland who recently came to St. Joseph’s Home in Richmond from her previous assignment in England.
During the liturgy all were invited to make a renewal of vows:
“Eternal triune God,
Trusting in your faithful love, I, __________________, renew my vows to live my life following Christ in chastity, poverty and obedience.
“I commit myself anew to serve the Church in my ministry entrusted to my institute.
“Grant me the grace, Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady and the prayers and support of my institute, to live these vows faithfully. Amen.”
Her twin brother had joined the Marist order at age 16, and she felt she wanted to join the Little Sisters. After her mother refused to sign the papers, she came back the following year and got the same response. Her mother told her that she would be free to do whatever she wanted when she turned 21.
In the meantime, Sister Marie became a nurse and worked in that profession, finally entering the Little Sisters at age 23. She has never regretted that decision.
Brother Cosmas Rubencamp, an Xaverian brother who retired as director of the diocesan Office of Campus and Young Adult Ministry, was honored for 60 years of religious profession.
Other men’s religious communities represented at the liturgy and lunch which followed were the Benedictines of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey, the Dominican Friars of St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlottesville and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
Among them is Father Neal Nichols, chaplain of St. Benedict Chapel in Chesapeake, who graduated from Benedictine High School in 1979 and Hampden-Sydney College in 1984. St. Benedict Chapel is home of daily Mass and the sacraments according to the Liturgical Books of 1962 Latin Mass in the Tidewater area.
“I call it a hybrid,” Father Neal said of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. “We’re like religious in that we have a superior, our own constitution and our own rule which we call a customal.
“But the work we do is parish work and we’re invited into a diocese by the Bishop.”
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