REDISCOVERING THE BEAUTY OF A LIFE PROMISED TO GOD
On Saturday, 4th July, the Monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena, Drogheda opened its doors to the Rise of the Roses Tour 2015 which seeks to celebrate and rediscover the beauty of the calling to consecrated life and the gift that it is to all.
Our Dominican sisters showed great hospitality to all who arrived: the ‘Roses’ and their friends, Dominican friars, sisters and laity, religious of other congregations, local people and a bus-load that travelled from Northern Ireland! The sisters of the Siena community, along with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, chatted, prayed, laughed, drank tea, sang and shared a little of their lives, their charism, and their vocation stories with the large attendance.
One of the founders, Méabh Carlin, welcomed everyone, introduced ‘Team Drogheda’ and led us in singing the hymn ‘Rise, Rise, Roses’ while various members of the Team took it in turn to lead parts of the introductory session. They played a video explaining what Rise of the Roses is about which is worth watching. It can be viewed at: http://rise1.artisteer.net/
In the Chapel, following a short period of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, sisters from both congregations shared something of their respective charisms and of their vocation stories. Srs Niamh OP and Teresa OP spoke very engagingly as did the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, Srs Veronica and Kelly Franics, part of the community of four sisters in Drogheda.
Rise of the Roses is the initiative of a group of young women who became friends through the Michaela Foundation. These young women write that they “discovered a tremendous thirst for God amongst the young girls of Ireland. There is an eagerness to know God and a huge amount of energy and joy that is palpable when young people embrace their faith.”
Their own desire to spread the joy of their faith led them to devise ‘Rise of the Roses’ with the aim of “connecting young people of Ireland (and the world) to God and to the women in the convents” visited. They see this as a time when young people “have a tremendous opportunity … to do something amazing for God – to ‘rise and shine’, spreading the joy and hope that comes from being a follower of Christ.”
This summer, for 10 consecutive Saturdays, between mid June and the 15th of August, the Roses Tour 2015 will visit communities of consecrated women around Ireland. Song, prayer, friendship and tea are central elements of each visit of this pilgrimage.
The tour began in Faughart, the birthplace of St Brigid, in the Monastery of the Poor Clares, It will end on the 15th August with a daylong event in Knock Shrine, including Mass said by Archbishop Eamon Martin and, of course, ‘tea-parties!’
The Rise of the Roses mission statement, which identifies prayer at its heart, is ambitious and impressive in its aims:
– We hope that, through Rise of the Roses, people will come rediscover the beauty of Consecrated Life and the gift that it is to us all.
– We pray that Rise of the Roses will help create a culture of saying ‘YES’ to God.
– We hope to share the beauty, vibrancy and joy of saying ‘YES!’ and promising your life to Jesus however He calls.
– We aim to inspire and support young women who are discerning a call to Consecrated Religious Life.
These young women certainly aim high! Yet, their format is refreshingly simple: “to invite young people to join us as we meet the sisters, learn about their way of life and their love for God, sing, have a ‘wee tea party,’ hold an hour of Eucharistic Adoration and plant a rose. We will carry the Cross of Christ to each convent and will be supported by a promise of prayers from people all around the world.”
Each week of the pilgrimage, the cross undergoes a further transformation, with an accompanying scripture-based reflection on life and faith posted on their Facebook page. The rose reflects a promise to pray for each other. The Roses team want to promote the power of the Rosary and write that “ten roses planted around Ireland will symbolise a decade of the rosary offered for the young people of our country.”
Pope Francis writes the “joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” and he calls on “the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 1).
The members of the Roses Team have responded to this call in an inspired and inspiring manner. On paper, perhaps, the concept may seem a little idealistic, gimmicky and/or pious, but not so in reality. It is both unpretentious and brilliantly and intelligently effected. These women make concrete the aims of their mission statement in a way that is joyful, attractive, genuine and sincere. Their witness and way of being is a joy to behold because they remain true to themselves and unafraid to express their faith.
Having seen them in action, I was really impressed by this group of young women, by what are doing, by their faith, by their joyful and courageous witness to that faith, and by how they are putting a spotlight on the beauty of Catholic faith and of the lives of consecrated women!
Thank you to our Dominican sisters, the Siena nuns, for hosting the Rise of the Roses Tour with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal and for inviting Edel and I to the day. Thanks especially to the Roses Team … wonderful young women with an obvious love of God and a passion for “rediscovering the beauty of a life promised to God” … it was great to be part of this day! I came back full of excitement and possibilities and hope and wishing that more of our sisters could have experienced all that these few hours taught.
On their website, the Roses include that great quote attributed to St Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire”
Let us keep these young women in our prayers – that each of them continues to live the joy of their faith in God – and let us pray that the Rise of the Roses Tour continues to go from strength to strength. They will set Ireland, and perhaps even the world, on fire!
Sr Eileen O’Connell