The other evening, I attended the annual seminarian dinner for the Diocese. It is a joyous affair: the Bishop celebrates Mass for the seminarians and their families and friends, there is a social and then a formal dinner. At the end of the evening the Bishop stood up and handed those men a challenge that they will spend their lives meeting.
As he spoke, I could visualize the call: men standing tall and firm, full of faith and intelligence, strength and zeal. Standing forth to uphold the people of God, administering the sacraments, calling down the mighty grace of God, teaching the truth fearlessly in a culture that derides it. It was almost a martial scene.
And then I wondered: where are all the women?
I have been wandering the Diocese, meeting with priests, speaking in parishes, striving to make known the call to religious life. And I have seen need. Schools with no Sisters, and pastors and staff begging for them. Parishes struggling. Pastors, who often have two or three parishes, working alone. Yes, they have dedicated lay staff. But again the question comes:
Where are all the women?
Throughout the history of the Church, religious women have been the mothers of souls - teaching, nursing, caring for the poor, praying, praying, praying for the needs of the Church - the real needs. They have been the ones "on the ground" when the priests often have to move from place to place to administer the sacraments that keep the life of God alive in human hearts. The religious women prepared the ground, assisted the priests, and then tended the souls when he went on to his next task.
And now, they are nearly gone.
We must speak frankly to God on this matter. May he flood our nation with grace, with vocations to women's religious life.
The harvest is immense and laborers are all too scarce. Pray...