Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. Instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1997, the celebration is in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, commemorating the coming of Christ, the Light of the World, through the symbolic lighting of candles. Similarly, consecrated men and women are called to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ through their unique witness of selfless service, such as caring for the poor, the contemplative work of prayer, or through their professional careers.

Pope Francis was to celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome Feb. 2 to recognize and pray for the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church and to express gratitude for their service to the Church.  Similarly, parishes in the United States also are celebrating consecrated life during the weekend of Feb. 1-2 and recognize the essential role of consecrated persons in the life of the Church. As engaged members of their local communities, consecrated men and women bring the presence of Jesus to all they encounter throughout their day, allowing his Spirit to live and move within them so that the truth of the Gospel can be proclaimed to all.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., marked the occasion by recognizing the immeasurable impact that consecrated persons have had on the Church of Trenton.  He said, “Since its establishment in 1881, the Diocese of Trenton has grown and flourished in countless ways thanks to the presence, prayer and apostolic works of scores of religious women and men who have generously served here in our four counties.  We are profoundly in their debt.  Our Catholic schools and programs of religious education, our hospitals and nursing homes, our works for the poor, the needy and the elderly, our parishes and diocesan offices could not have succeeded in their mission without the contributions of sisters, brothers and priests in consecrated life.  

“Along with the prayers and service of consecrated virgins and widows, women and men religious have given the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Trenton a legacy of love and light that endures to the present day.  They deserve our grateful prayer and support. With God’s grace, may our Diocese be a source of new vocations to consecrated life, of new and dedicated laborers in the vineyard of the Lord.”

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate is commissioned annually by the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations to conduct a survey of the men and women who solemnly professed in the United States in the past year. Among the major findings of this year's report are:

  • The average age of the profession class of 2019 is 39. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 71.
  • Two-thirds of the responding religious (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as white. One in ten (10 percent) identifies as Hispanic, and one in ten (9 percent) identify as Asian.
  • Three in four of responding religious (74 percent) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is the Philippines. 
  • On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so. 

The full survey from CARA can be found at:  http://cms.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/world-day-for-consecrated-life.cfm