SPARTANBURG—They came wearing the brown robes of Franciscan friars, the black cassocks of the Adorno Fathers, the brown, white and blue habits and symbolic crosses of different orders of women religious. The attire was different but the faces all held wide smiles of recognition and love for one another and for a life serving God.
They were the 30 or so priests, brothers and women religious from the Piedmont Deanery who came together out of a rainy night on March 19 at Jesus, Our Risen Savior Church. The group prayed, renewed their vows and shared a meal. The event was organized by the parish’s Adorno Fathers as a celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, which lasts until February 2016.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone led evening prayer and eucharistic benediction, and gave a homily that reflected on the day’s celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph.
He said the saint’s life of holiness, humility and unfailing trust in God was a mirror of the consecrated life.
“He had a quality of trusting somehow that God would always work it out, and that’s a tremendous model for those in religious life,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “Like St. Joseph, you all are inspirations. You are a model of what it means to say yes to God, and being open to the possibilities He brings.”
After the prayer service, the men and women moved to the church hall for a multi-course Italian dinner. During the meal, members of each community stood to talk about their charism and the work they do in the diocese. The orders represented included three groups of Franciscan sisters, the Poor Clares, Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, Franciscan Friars, Daughters of Wisdom, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Adorno Fathers and the Crusaders of the Holy Spirit.
Adorno Fathers Ted Kalaw and Melvin Avilla sang a hymn together. The rest of the evening became a flood of laughter, smiles and ardent conversation as people met each other, learned about their work and talked about the challenges and joys of consecrated life.
Some in the crowd had first taken vows 30, 40 or even 50 years before, while others were new to their vocation.
“It’s really inspiring to see the people from different orders all together and see the different ministries they are doing,” said Poor Clare Sister Mary Connor of Travelers Rest. “It’s really an affirmation of the work we are doing in the diocese.”
“This evening just shows a wonderful example of the Gospel of joy that we all live,” said Franciscan Father Robert J. Menard, campus chaplain at Clemson University. “Coming together like this is good for us. It’s good for the soul and good for the diocese. I hope it becomes an annual tradition.”