Rome (Italy). From 1 February to 4 February 2024, about 300 representatives of the various forms of Consecrated Life from over 60 countries met in Rome for a meeting in preparation for Jubilee 2025 organized by the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (DIVCSVA): a religious man, a religious woman, a member of a Secular Institute, and a consecrated member belonging to the Ordo Virginum for each nation.

Five Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, representing female religious life of their nation, also participated in this Conference: Sister Paula Cristina Langa, from Mozambique; Sister Michiko Miyawaki, from Japan; Sister Natalia Miguel, from Angola; Sister Lioutsia Baltsevitch, from Belarus; Sister Adriana Silva Castillo, from Uruguay; and Sister Maria Eugenia Arenas Gómez, from DIVCSVA.

In an atmosphere of joy and communion, the participants shared the beauty of the gift of consecration and renewed their commitment to be “Pilgrims of hope on the path to peace”.

To facilitate this synodal journey, during the first day, on the theme “Believe in Hope”, they let themselves be enlightened by the contribution of Father Giacomo Costa (SJ), Consultant of the Synod Secretariat, that guided them to deepen and better understand the dynamics of dialogue. Sister Carmen Ros Nortes (NSC), Undersecretary of the Dicastery, presented them with the path that led them to organize this intercontinental meeting.

In the afternoon of 1 February, Sister Alessandra Smerilli, FMA, Secretary of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, together with Fr. Paulín Kubuya (SX), Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, helped to become aware of the concrete implications of “Believing in Hope”.

February 2, which had as its motto “Believe in Charity“, was a day of synodal listening. Arranged in round tables by linguistic groups, each participant represented a specific style of consecration and, through the methodology of ‘conversation in the Spirit’ used during the recent Synod, they deepened the joys and sorrows of Consecrated Life today on three levels: personal, ecclesial, and socio-political. Supported by multimedia tools, they also listened to the voice of other groups.

At the end of the day, the joys and efforts that emerged were presented to the Lord in the Eucharistic Celebration of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Day of Consecrated Life in the presence of Pope Francis, in St Peter’s Basilica. Emphasizing the importance of waiting, inspired by Simeon and Anna, in his homily the Holy Father said: “Their heart remained awake, like a torch always lit. They are ahead in age, but they have the youth of the heart; they do not let themselves be consumed by the days, because their eyes remain turned to God in expectation… they have not ‘retired’ hope.” He then pointed out the obstacles such as waiting for the Lord, neglect of the interior life, and adaptation to the style of the world. He concluded by inviting consecrated men and women and all Christians to cultivate the expectation of the Lord because “welcoming the Lord, the past opens to the future, the old that is in us opens to the new that He arouses”. (homily)

Sister Paula Langa, FMA of Mozambique proclaimed the Word of God from the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 2:14-18) and Sister Michiko, FMA of Japan, entered in procession carrying a candle to the altar, representing all the FMA in their desire and commitment to keep alive the flame of the Word of God in children and young people entrusted to them by the Lord. The day ended with a visit to the Vatican Museums.

The third day had as its motto “Walk with the power of faith”. It was a day of pilgrimage through some places marked by witness, especially of the martyrs, and by the Lord’s dedication to the Salvation of humanity through the Cross.

In the morning, the group gathered at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of the Salesians of Don Bosco for the celebration of the Eucharist presided over by Card. João Braz de Aviz, Prefect DIVCSVA. From there, the participants followed along three stages: the Basilica of Saint Mary Major and Saint Prassede, the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs, the catacombs of St. Sebastian, and the church of “Domine quo vadis”.

Each stage ended with the witness of a consecrated person to the joy of the gift of life to the Lord, to the suffering of the Cross lived as a cause for hope, and to perseverance in the faith on every occasion and service. The intense day ended with prayer for peace in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The last day opened with the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Card. João Braz de Aviz at the altar of the Cathedral of Peter, as a sign of fidelity to the Magisterium of Pope Francis. Subsequently, in the Synod Hall, the fruits of these days of encounter with the collaboration of different artistic forms were gathered.

Sister Simona Brambilla (MC), DIVCSVA Secretary, in her presentation took up the three verbs that characterized the three days – believe, grow, walk – involving body, mind, innards, the whole person. “One can believe when one adheres and loves. It becomes possible to grow by embracing some choices and leaving aside others. We can walk because we know how to move ourselves and convert ourselves. Strengthened by God’s loving embrace and personal conversion, we can face the path of witness.” She then motivated all the consecrated on how to continue the journey begun in this encounter, thus preparing to receive the mandate to prepare for the Jubilee.

In the prayer of the mandate, everyone undertook to be witnesses of hope on the paths of peace once they returned to their countries. Each also received a calendar indicating 2 February 2025 as the day of the national celebration of the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, and from 8 to 12 October, the national celebration of the Jubilee of Consecrated Life. The meeting ended in St Peter’s Square to participate in the Sunday Angelus of Pope Francis.

“We are pleased to have been able to participate in the event as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, to share the gifts of our common vocation to holiness and to be a sign of the joy proper to those consecrated to God”, commented Sister Adriana Silva Castillo, FMA from Uruguay”.


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