Bishop Ricken

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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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The gift of consecrated life

By | November 25, 2009

In our own diocese, I know that the consecrated life is a special gift that God has given the church and the whole world. This past year I have had the opportunity to visit the motherhouses of three religious orders of women here in the Diocese of Green Bay.

I have been to St. Francis Convent, Bay Settlement, home of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, OSF. Rooted in the cross, word and Eucharist, they value simplicity, hospitality and prayer. Guided by their vision to further the reign of God, their mission is to compassionately respond to the needs of our times through education, healing and related ministries that uphold human dignity, pursue peace and promote Gospel justice.

At the Holy Family Convent of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, OSF, Manitowoc, I was blessed to learn more about their community. In 1869, five young women, deeply in love with God, desired to share their daily lives together in rural Wisconsin. St. Francis of Assisi’s simple Gospel way of life inspired them. Today, they live whole-heartedly the loving spirit of their foundresses. They strive to live the Gospel in simplicity, built on faith in a loving God; joyful acceptance of poverty; love for the church; and selfless dedication to the service of others primarily through education and health care.

I’ve also had the opportunity to visit with the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in Oshkosh. They are an international community of Catholic women religious who desire to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. They are dedicated to the Franciscan values of peacemaking, hospitality and reverence for all creation. Mary, who stood under the cross of her Son, is their model of faith, contemplation and compassion in ministering to those in need.

During the next year, I will also be re-visiting the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Denmark and the Green Bay community of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, NAU, which was founded by St. John Eudes in 1641 in Caen, France. Both of these groups make significant and unique contributions to the life and holiness of the diocese.

Meeting with, and learning from, these dedicated women has provided me with a renewed appreciation for the gifts they bring our church. It is a great privilege and joy for me to be their bishop. In a public show of appreciation, this past September we had a tremendous jubilee celebration at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. This year alone we celebrated with 40 sisters who celebrated 25, 50, 60 and 70 years of service in the consecrated life. That’s more than 2,115 years in service to our church!

A New Genesis community, Green Bay, a public association of the faithful, also participated in the celebrations with joy and enthusiasm.

I ask each of you to reflect on the beauty and the gifts that these women bring to us as the Church of Green Bay. There is a special witness to the church and to the world which only consecrated women can give. I assure you that it has been touching for me to meet these great sisters and to reflect on their wonderful commitment to our church.

The Manitowoc Franciscans have a phrase that says: “The world needs you. God calls you. We invite you.” I ask each of you to take those words to heart, and to pray for a renewed interest of young women in opening their minds, hearts and lives to the possibility of embracing the gift of consecrated life.

Their gift is our gift!

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