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Dedicated to God

 Dedicate a Dio  DCM-002
03 February 2024

In February, as the Church commemorates the Day of Consecrated Life, Women Church World delves into the emergence of new religious communities for women and the motivations behind a woman's decision to establish a congregation, monastery, or church family in contemporary times. This state of life, often colloquially referred to as “nuns” or “sisters,” signifies a remarkable manifestation of female autonomy, encompassing diverse expressions such as active engagement, secular institutes, contemplative lifestyles, hermitages, and consecrated virgins living in the world. These individuals commit to professing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, whether in the public sphere or within the confines of a private calling.

The panorama of consecrated life is experiencing a revitalization, particularly in the Western world. Alongside traditional expressions, new communities are emerging, which draw inspiration from the early Church and that are shedding former distinctions and juridical structures that once defined consecrated life. A notable feature of these emerging communities is their inclusivity—they are mixed institutes where men and women coexist, living and praying together within a single community rather than maintaining separate entities. Father Giancarlo Rocca, a Pauline and a prominent authority in the realm of religious life, elaborates on this trend, highlighting its significance in contemporary religious discourse.

The stories of vocation resonate with a profound commitment beyond mere faith—it's a comprehensive life decision. Responding to the Call encompasses a desire to extend assistance to those facing various challenges, including poverty, personal and political turmoil, persecution, and illness. Sister Paesie, having served as a missionary of Mother Teresa's Charity, felt a divine prompting to reach out to the street children of Haiti. Thus, she established the Kizito Family in Cité Soleil, the most impoverished slum in Port-au-Prince, in obedience to what she perceives as the Lord's call.
Within the walls of monasteries and convents, contemplation and attentive listening have always been valued as active pursuits. The principle of ora et labora, prayer and work, is revitalized, and the deliberate choice of enclosure is embraced as an assertion of personal freedom. Sister Mirella Soro articulates this sentiment, affirming, “Our presence in the monastery extends beyond mere prayer... Our communal existence serves as a profound act of resistance against the conflicts and divisions that scar human history: we strive to embody within our community the ideals we envision for the world.” Despite physical limitations imposed by enclosure, modern technology such as telephones and social networks serves as windows to the outside world, facilitating connection and outreach beyond the monastery walls.

Women Church World also tells the story of a spiritual founder who will be canonized this month, on February 11: the lay consecrated woman Mama Antula, who in the 18th century contributed to changing the political history of her country to such an extent that she was recognized as the Mother of the Nation, becoming the first saint of Argentina.