During a Jan. 31 Mass recognizing the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, Sr. Zilda Carvalho says a prayer for the many youth she spoke to about religious life during the Year of Consecrated Life Photo by Evan Boudreau

Youth open to Year of Consecrated Life

  • February 6, 2016

TORONTO - For Sr. Zilda Carvalho, the Year of Consecrated Life served not only as a call for celebration amongst her fellow religious but as a catalyst for conversations with youth about vocations and faith.

“Most of them were asking how we live, why did we decide to live like this, what is important to you,” said Carvalho, a member for the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of the Incarnate Word. “We talked to them to let them know that what is important in life above everything is to have your faith and to live your faith. And when you talk to them and explain what it is to be religious many of them begin to think about that for themselves.”

During Carvalho’s many conversations, she learned something about the youth she ministers to in Woodbridge, Ont.

“Many of the young people, they are confused” about their own faith, she said. “They feel that they could do something with it but they are lost because society gives them so many ways that they don’t really know what to do.”

And those conversations, Carvalho said, are needed more now than she has ever experienced in her 40 years as a sister. That’s because despite the interest she felt during the Year of Consecrated Life, the number of new members to religious orders is historically low.

“Vocations is the one big issue that we are facing today,” she said. “Now with religious life vocations are getting so down, we don’t have too many of them. People are more interested in something else, like money.”

Sr. John Mary de Souza said she too experienced an increased interest in her order, the Sisters of Life in New York, and religious life during the just completed Year of Consecrated Life.

“It was beautiful to see the lay faithful respond to the Year of Consecrated Life by praying for us and wanting to learn more about the gift of our vocation,” she said, adding that her order embraced the curiosity. “We have a gift of waking up the world to the Gospel and we kind of took that as a call to really live the Gospel deeply.”

To mark the end of the Year of Consecrated Life, de Souza attended the Mass to mark the end of the Year of Consecrated Life at St. Paul’s Basilica Jan. 31.

During the Mass Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick spoke about the important role of religious men and women.

“Consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church,” he said. “We are all called to proclaim God’s word and we are all called to be witnesses of God with our very own eyes. Jesus made it clear that His message was for all, no one was exempt from His call.”

He went on to say that the kind of conversations which de Souza and Carvalho have been having with youth will help to “restore dignity to all from whom it has been robbed.”

At the moment there may only be anecdotal evidence that the Year of Consecrated Life led to increased interest in religious vocations among youth, but that’s enough to give Carvalho hope for the future.

“For the future we will still need hope a lot, hope that God will continue to call people,” she said.

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