The First Sunday of Advent in November 2014 marked the beginning of what Pope Francis has proclaimed as the Year of Consecrated Life. As this year unfolds, men and women religious are encouraged to “wake up the world” as witnesses of the full Gospel expression of how Jesus lived among us on this earth. In addition to ongoing events planned locally and

globally throughout the year, three significant aspects of consecrated life — community, service and prayer — are being highlighted at particular times in the coming months.

Feb. 8 has been selected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a “Day with Religious” to offer people time to become more acquainted with vowed men and women’s communal lives of relationship, prayer and ministry. Days of opportunities for collaborative service will be scheduled in the summer, and September 13 has been designated as a “Day of Prayer with Religious.”

In recognition of the local Day with Religious, members of religious communities who serve throughout the Diocese of Syracuse have planned regional “open house” gatherings. Participating sisters, friars and priests will be on hand to welcome the public, share in conversation and stories of vocation and service, join together in prayer and thanksgiving, and enjoy refreshments.

“This is a chance for people to come and get to know us, see where we live, and see who we are today,” explained Sister Mary Ellen Shirtz, CSJ.
Four events are scheduled for the afternoon of Feb. 8:

• Syracuse:  Representatives of communities serving in the greater Syracuse area will gather from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the recently opened Franciscan Villa, the new residence for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. Franciscan sisters will be joined by Sisters of St. Joseph, Jesuits and others at the Villa,  located at 6900 Buckley Rd.

• Syracuse: The Conventual Franciscan Friars are hosting an open house at the St. Francis Friary, 812 North Salina St., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

• Fayetteville: Sisters of St. Francis will welcome guests from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Franciscan Hermitage located at the Spirituality and Nature Center at Alverna Heights, 7770 Green Lakes Rd. (Route 290), Fayetteville.

• Utica/Rome: Religious serving in the Utica/Rome region of the Diocese invite others to join them as they gather from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, 2222 Genesee Street, Utica, for a pot luck meal.  Those attending are invited to bring a dish to share.

Sister Diane Zigo, CSJ, is an instructor in the education department at Le Moyne College. She is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

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