Retired Sisters special collection Nov. 18-19: Walking Together

Last spring, in his welcoming remarks to a group of Dorothean Sisters on the occasion of their General Congregation, Pope Francis noted that religious life "is a concrete way of implementing synodality: a strong time of fraternity, of listening, of dialogue, of discernment, all in the light and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit."

With the General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality in Rome last month, I have been reflecting on the Holy Father's remarks and his emphasis on how institutes of religious life continue the tradition of synodality. Hundreds of women religious contributed to the synthesis of voices that were shared at the synod. Walking together with Christ and in the Spirit, our sisters' lives are marked by communion and mission, and we have all been beneficiaries of their dedication.

When I think about the impact that religious sisters have had and continue to have on our church (and specifically on our archdiocese), I am deeply humbled. I have been blessed to know many strong, courageous, and holy women who have followed God's call and transformed their initial vocation into a lifelong ministry of love. My own dear aunt is a Dominican Sister of Peace, Sister Jean Delaney, O.P. She is retired now and living in Kentucky. Her prayers and her example have meant so much to me throughout my life. Religious vows are not only a surrender and sacrifice but represent a full acceptance of a life dedicated to God. Consecrated life offers a special grace of intimacy with Christ, and by their authentic witness to the Gospel, they invite us all into a special relationship with Christ.

Religious sisters have been influential in so many areas. Certainly, we know of their impact in Catholic education and health care services. We also often see them working and advocating at the forefront of challenging societal issues, such as homelessness, immigration, environmental responsibility, and social justice. Catholic sisters and nuns have a variety of callings, lifestyles, and ministries and every community is distinct. What they all share, however, is a beautiful commitment to prayer, community, and ministry -- and a humble obedience to the Holy Spirit.

On Nov. 18-19, parishes across the archdiocese will hold their annual special collection for the retired sisters. Please let your hearts be guided to generously support them for their many years of service to Christ, to our communities, and to the greater church. This collection helps to provide for their needs, including health care and retirement expenses that are not covered by social security benefits. Every gift impacts the lives of these wonderful women and allows them to journey forward knowing they are blessed with the support and care that they need.

It comes as no surprise that many familiar and favorite saints were once nuns. St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Edith Stein, St. Josephine Bakhita, and St. Mother Teresa are just a few of the influential sisters whose abundant trust in the Lord earned them saintly recognition. Their prayerful devotion and humble commitment to Christ set them on a holy path.

Today's women religious walk together along the same path of holiness, offering hope and sacred space to those who seek it. Thank you for lifting them in prayer and generously caring for them as they have done so lovingly for you, for me, for us.