Tears of joy as public vows professed in Chch

 Archbishop Paul Martin prays at the Mass.

by MICHAEL LORETZ 

There were tears of joy as the consecrated members of the Beatitudes professed public vows in their chapel at the Sanctuary of Fourvière in Leithfield, North Canterbury, a few months ago.  

This came as part of a fresh chapter in the life of the Beatitudes Community worldwide, which has recently been recognised by the Holy See as the first ever “Ecclesial Family of Consecrated Life”. 

Under the new canonical structure, vows taken by the consecrated members, which until now have been private, have become public vows, with the specific charism and mission entrusted to the community by the Church. This means that the more than 800 consecrated members of the Beatitudes Community — priests, brothers and sisters— will profess their vows anew to be received, not just by the community itself, but by the whole Church. 

Sr Thérèse makes her perpetual public vows, with Archbishop Paul Martin, SM.

During a recent midday Mass, Sr Thérèse and Fr Gregoire pronounced their perpetual public vows into the hands of Archbishop Paul Martin, SM. Sister and Father represented the general superiors of the sisters’ and brothers’ branches of the Beatitudes Community who could not travel to New Zealand because of Covid restrictions. Sr Clare, Sr Marie-Jeanne and Sr Monica then pronounced their public vows to Sr Thérèse. Emotions flowed as each member vowed afresh to follow Jesus and renew their commitments to poverty, chastity and obedience. 

“What is beautiful about this next step is that the Church, in her wisdom, has recognised the unique gifts of the Beatitudes, and we have been commissioned to share these gifts for the good of the whole Church,” said Sr Thérèse, the coordinator of the community in New Zealand. 

In his homily, Archbishop Martin noted, “I am sure that, when the history is written of here, all the people involved, all the events, with their graced moments and challenging moments, it will show God’s hand at work in it all. And today we see this enfleshed by the vows these faithful followers of Christ take”. 

Although the Beatitudes Community was first founded in 1973 and has, for several decades, been recognised and blessed by the Church in many ways, the journey to define their unique identity has been one of much discernment, prayer and, at times, plenty of “hard slog”. Today, the Beatitudes is a Catholic community with more than 800 members around the world, and is present in 20 countries, including a house near the Sanctuary of Fourvière in Leithfield, New Zealand. It brings together, into the same family, consecrated sisters, brothers, priests, and lay members, sharing a fraternal life, prayer life and mission. 

During the ceremony, Archbishop Martin spoke of the “happy coincidence” that the reading of the day was the one in which Peter and John go to the temple to cure the man who could not walk, and the man, having been cured, starts to dance around everywhere in a scene reminiscent of one from Monty Python. “One of the things I have noticed about the Beatitudes”, said the bishop “is a joy that is expressed by its members. It is interesting too that you [the community] are known for your use of dance as a way to praise God. To understand the power of what you have received and experienced in faith . . . is a wonderful gift”. 

A communique from the Beatitudes general house in France stated: “This important recognition is the fruit of a long road that the community has travelled through many joys and sorrows towards a greater ecclesial maturity . . .  Today, she gives thanks for the love and faithfulness of God. More than ever, the Community of the Beatitudes wishes to continue to participate in the mission of the Church, and in the new evangelisation”.  

In New Zealand, the community’s apostolic arm is the Sanctuary of Fourvière, a Marian shrine at Leithfield where people of all backgrounds are welcomed for prayer, retreat, pilgrimage and rest. 

 

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