During his Homily at a Mass to mark the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life in St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley said that the privileged position occupied by Religious in the Church is ‘not the privilege of honour and recognition’, but ‘the privilege of being chosen by Jesus to befriend those who most need to know his love’.
Highlighting the words of the Gospel, ‘I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father’, the Archbishop developed the theme of friendship. He said ‘our Lord offer us an insight into those we should seek out and befriend’, not necessarily ‘those whose friendship might bring us honour or the favourable opinion of others’. He said ‘we need to be aware of where our energies and service are most needed and where they will have the greatest impact on others’.
‘The Church does not exist to benefit its own members but ‘to be of service to the world’ and Religious are an ‘essential component’ in the ‘mission and witness of the Church’.
He acknowledged the ‘vital contribution to the life of the Archdiocese’ played by Religious in their many different communities and variety of works and said that the witness of community life, although not without its ‘particular challenges’, is ‘noticed and valued’ within our parishes.
To conclude, the Archbishop gave a special note of thanks to those who were celebrating their special jubilees of Religious profession in 2014. He thanked them for their ‘commitment and dedication’ and prayed that ‘God and his loving-kindness be ever present to you in the years ahead’.