Diocesan News

Anticipatory Hope Marks Diocese’s World Day For Consecrated Life Event

Bishop Robert Brennan delivers his homily during Mass at the Diocese of Brooklyn’s World Day for Consecrated Life. (Photo by Michael Rizzo)

By Michael Rizzo

JAMAICA — An afternoon of reflection, camaraderie, and discussion of anticipatory hope marked the Diocese of Brooklyn’s World Day for Consecrated Life, celebrated at St. John’s University on Feb. 4 for more than 100 members of religious communities.

It was the first time in three years the gathering of priests, brothers, and nuns in religious life who live, work, and study in Brooklyn and Queens was held in person because of the pandemic. 

Sister Mercedes McCann of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas was the keynote speaker at the event, held inside St. Thomas More Church on the school’s Jamaica campus. Sister Mercedes also presented at last year’s online session, but this year was able to make the trip from Pennsylvania, where she works at the Saint John Vianney Center. 

“Anticipatory hope is that God will never abandon us,” she explained to the congregation made up of many religious orders, including her fellow Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ), the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, Sisters of Charity-Halifax and members of the host Vincentian community. 

“Hope is a theological virtue connected to faith and charity. Nurturing our faith will support our hope,” she added. 

Sister Maryann Seton Lopiccolo, a Sister of Charity-Halifax and the Delegate for Religious in the Diocese of Brooklyn, organized the day’s gathering.

“Today shows the multicultural nature of the religious in the diocese,” she said, “especially with sisters coming from Africa and Asia to serve here. It shows how everyone is committed to the people of our diocese.” 

Sister Mercedes’ presentation explored how easy it is to feel anxiety in today’s world. But she also exhorted attendees to embrace hope even through the challenges that many religious orders face, including members growing older, their diminished public visibility, and even the possibility of completion, the canonical term for the end of a religious order’s existence. 

Her guidance quoted poets, psychologists, and Pope Benedict XVI on the ways to nurture anticipatory hope, including prayer, mindfulness, embracing a mission in life, and recognizing and connecting with hope providers in their own communities.

When Sister Mercedes asked the congregants for their thoughts on how they practiced a hopeful mindset, one spoke of following the way of St. Francis to serve the person before you. Mercy Sister Eileen Corrigan, who lives at the order’s convent in Whitestone, Queens, offered something different.

“I write in a journal every night,” she said, “and I focus on the positive and what I’m grateful for. You go to bed and wake up more attuned to God.”

Sister Mercedes’ last session began by playing the hymn “Waiting in Silence.” She explained that waiting is an essential part of anticipatory hope.

“Waiting is not passive,” she said. “With prayer, it puts you in God’s presence, knowing God is accompanying us into the unknown.” 

At the conclusion of her presentation, Sister Mercedes began to replay the hymn she started the session with. At that moment, one attendee said the words to the song could be found in the hymnals in the church’s pews. As the hymn was played, the voices of the religious filled the space as they repeated the refrain, Maranatha, Aramaic for “Our Lord, come.”

The capstone moment of the day was Bishop Robert Brennan celebrating a vigil Mass for the congregation. Before leading them in renewing their vows, his homily referenced Sunday’s Gospel reading of Jesus telling his followers they were the salt of the earth and light of the world. 

“Salt makes other things taste better, and light makes other things visible,” Bishop Brennan said. Then looking around the church he added, “You are salt and light, and through you, others will encounter Jesus Christ.”