Consecrated Life Without Borders

by

Brother Iñigo Riola, F.S.C.

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
[1]

The Catholic Church is celebrating the 25th World Day for Consecrated Life today, February 2, 2021. It is a special day to hold in prayer people who have dedicated their lives to the service of God and the Church expressed through living out of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience in a specific religious institute [2]. The De La Salle Christian Brothers, the order of which I am a member, is such an institute, one founded to reach beyond the borders of traditional education in order to teach abandoned youth.

Br. Iñigo, representing his Provincial Superior, with other major religious superiors in the Philippines. Association of Major Religious Superiors National Convention 2019, Jaro Cathedral, Iloilo, Philippines. (photo credit: AMRSP)

Today is special in many ways. It is special because it is the day when the Church gives recognition to the people who have consecrated their lives to God and service of God’s people. It is also special because it marks the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II declaring the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, also celebrated today, as World Day for Consecrated Life. Lastly, it is special because we are celebrating it during a very challenging time for many due to the pandemic. It is the third reason that I would like to focus my reflection today. What does it mean to be a consecrated person during this time of COVID19?

“Without borders” is a common theme in the Lasallian world. There are many variations to this: Brothers without Borders, Beyond Borders Initiative, Lasallian without Borders, and other related initiatives. I believe that being “without borders” is one of the possible responses to the question I posted above.

Br. Iñigo together with his Provincial Br. Armin Luistro FSC during a relief distribution in a slum area in Manila, May 2020.  

I am from the Philippines and I just arrived in the United States a few months ago to begin my doctoral studies. Before coming to California, I was in school administration and was also involved in several projects for poor people affected by the pandemic. I was busy yet felt fulfilled because I was able to share myself with others. When I arrived in the United States, there were a lot of things going on: the pandemic, California wildfires, and the political tensions. Apart from those, I had to go on a fourteen-day quarantine upon arrival. During my days of quarantine, I asked myself a few times: why am I here? There were doubts and confusion, partly brought by all the things happening around me, yet during moments of prayer, a line in the Brothers’ vow of consecration would always come to mind: “to go wherever I may be sent.”

Mont La Salle, Napa, during the Glass Fire & Brother Iñigo’s quarantine, September 2020.

This time of pandemic is a reminder for consecrated persons, and for everyone, that our mission and call is without borders, even during the time of the pandemic. Our mission as Brothers is not confined inside the four walls of the classroom. The work of consecrated persons is not limited to the traditional institutions that we have conducted for centuries, just as the life of a Christian is more than the Sunday services we go to or the parish activities that we participate in. 

The pandemic has taught us, difficult as it may seem, that our mission is in many ways limitless. All of us, consecrated persons, Christians living in the world, and all people from different walks of life, are called to explore new ways of serving and being with others: whether through online learning or teaching, through new forms of ministries in our communities, or new ways of relating or reaching out to colleagues, friends, and family. Let us look at this pandemic through the eyes of faith and hopefully we can see a world full of hope and of limitless possibilities.

_________________________

[1] Dan Schutte (1981)

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 915

_________________________

Photo credits: AMRSP & Brother Iñigo Riola, F.S.C.

3 thoughts on “Consecrated Life Without Borders

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