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Tuesday, 21 April 2015 09:23

Consecrated life as a Josephite Associate

Bernadette CarrWhen asked to write my reflection on consecrated life, I responded with a yes while deep inside I felt most uncomfortable. So my question to myself over the following weeks was, why am I so uncomfortable writing on consecrated life?

I guess I felt confused. There is a part of me that believes that we are all sacred people by the very nature of our Creator; we are created in God’s image, therefore the sacredness of our life cannot be questioned. Then I look at people like my grandmother and mum and dad, and although not dedicated formally to a religious life, they were dedicated through their baptism. They certainly committed themselves to God in and through their Catholic tradition and holding the Gospels as sacred, as they endeavoured to live the Gospel values in their everyday life.

I also reflected on the Life of Fr Frank Lombard (a very close family friend) whose gentleness and warmth drew me close to the sacraments as a child. As he celebrated Eucharist, I would stand at his side as he sat to celebrate Eucharist and serve as the altar girl (back when there were no altar girls). Father had had a stroke and he would say Mass in the Parish House at an altar make to enable him to say Mass. These moments of standing beside Father had a profound influence on me. It was as though I was in this Eucharistic sacred moment with him.

I knew (without being able to name it at the time) this consecrated man had drawn me into this sacred place and space of thanksgiving as an expression of God’s love for me. I was 10yrs old when Father died and still I remember those sacred moments as gift. I recognise the gift of Father's love and the sacredness of the moments of standing with him at the altar, more today than ever.

And, today? Well, I find myself seeking association to the Sisters of St Joseph through private vows. Do we need to do this to live a sacred committed life to Jesus and the Gospels? No, we don’t. Mum and dad remained very faithful to the Gospels and their Catholic tradition. However, in my living out the gospels and in my relationship with God, I have found myself being drawn to something other than the life I had been living. This is not better than or greater than how mum and dad lived their lives, but, it is for me, listening to what and where God is calling me; it is answering God’s call for me; it is about responding as the disciples did.

Above all it is about entering into the life and love of God in and through the Sisters of St Joseph, which for me has been a ‘home coming’ a ‘belonging’, a celebration of living and being in a way that I now know is right for me. This association has brought great joy and freedom in my life and when I become a privately vowed member of the Sisters of St Joseph, a consecrated woman, I know this pathway will enable me to enter more deeply into an intimate relationship with Jesus, an intimacy I desire with all my heart.

Bernadette Carr is a mother of four and a grandmother of two beautiful little girls and one very cute little boy. She works as a Pastoral Associate at St Brigid's Mordialloc and St Louis' Aspendale. It was while studying Siloam (Spiritual Direction) at Heart of Life Spirituality Centre several years ago that she discerned a call from God. "For over two years now I have been on the 'Pathways' with the Josephites, never have I felt as at home, as I do now," said Bernadette.

This article was first published in the 8 April 2015 issue of the monthly Mary MacKillop E-News, a publication of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.