Religious women and men honored at Consecrated Life Day Mass, reception
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
WRIGHT – Despite the 21-degree high predicted for the day, the warmth created inside St. Andrew Church was a direct reflection of the familial joy of so many gathered in one place to celebrate their “Consecrated” devotion to a loving Lord.
This Mass and reception celebrating the 22nd World Day for Consecrated Life, Feb. 10, celebrated more than a decision that each person made one day to devote their lives to Christ, but the journey that each has taken thus far. For some, the journey has brought them to the jungles of Africa, for others, the shores of China, and for still others, a strange and mysterious place called Southwest Kansas.
At the Mass prior to the luncheon reception, Father Robert Schremmer, pastor of St. Andrew Parish, welcomed all those gathered.
“We also welcome Religious priests Father Aneesh [Parappanattu, MSFS], Father Prakash Kola [MSFS], And Father Maurice Cummings [O. Carm],” he said, noting the priests seated behind the altar.
“And then there’s Father Ted [Stoecklein] and myself, who are not Religious,” Father Schremmer added to laughter.*
In his homily, Father Aneesh, a Missionary of St. Francis de Sales, used India’s national flower as a metaphor for a person “Consecrated to the Lord.”
“The Lotus flower inherits and exhibits a lot of meaning and symbolism and has a number of unique properties,” he said.
“It grows in muddy, dirty water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. At night, the flower closes and sinks underwater, while at dawn, it rises and opens again. It has a quality of self-cleaning and always remains free from dirty particles. Its leaves are such that they remain always dry.
“Untouched by impurity, the Lotus symbolizes purity of heart and mind.”
The flower, he said, “represents beautifully this consecration and offering to the Lord:
“We may grow in the muddy waters of evil, scandals, violence, corruption, yet, can we rise above all this and bloom in beauty, with God’s strength?
“In the night of our life, we may sink and feel dejected, broken, sad, depressed, worried, etc…. Yet, can we open up again, and blossom in loveliness, with God’s graces?
“In our worldly interactions, we may get spoiled with dirty particles of sin, evil, bad habits, etc… Yet, can we free ourselves from all these, by the redeeming power of God’s love?
“Let us hold the hands of Mother Mary, and renew our consecration to the Lord. In the Lord we find strength for our Consecration; we find joy for our Consecration. Yes, we belong to the Lord.”
Following Mass, participants walked amid the Kansas deep freeze to the parish center, where Knights of Columbus waited with drinks and appetizers. Inside the social hall, the Knights and the women of the Altar Society provided a delicious meal served with the help of members of the Vocation Commission.
As participants ate dessert, Father Schremmer suggested to those gathered that they discuss how we might better bring the joy of the Gospel to everyone, including those “on the peripheries.”
Several participants who had attended the Convocation for Catholic Leaders in Orlando, where they addressed this same question, offered their comments. Mike Stein shared an impassioned plea that “we must reach out more effectively to immigrants in a world that is increasingly hostile to them.”
The Catholic Diocese of Dodge City is currently home to 10 different religious orders: four orders of men religious, and six orders of women religious.
* Fathers Schremmer and Stoecklein are “diocesan” priests, and do not belong to a “Religious” order. Therefore they are not considered a Religious. See the Jan. 21 issue for an in-depth article on the subject.