On this week's cover, Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception, a member of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara order, holds David-Immanuel Krause who, along with his family, visited the order's convent in northeast Washington on Sunday, Feb. 8. That day, orders of men and women in consecrated life throughout the Archdiocese of Washington held open houses to mark the Year of Consecrated Life. See story and photos on pages 10-11 of this week's print edition.
On this week's cover, Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception, a member of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara order, holds David-Immanuel Krause who, along with his family, visited the order's convent in northeast Washington on Sunday, Feb. 8. That day, orders of men and women in consecrated life throughout the Archdiocese of Washington held open houses to mark the Year of Consecrated Life. See story and photos on pages 10-11 of this week's print edition.
This week’s cover story of the Catholic Standard by reporter Zoey Di Mauro and photographer Jaclyn Lippelmann on pages 10-11 offers an in-depth look at a special day in the life of four local religious congregations, as they held open houses on Sunday Feb. 8 as part of the Catholic Church’s Year of Consecrated Life.

As the article notes, Cardinal Wuerl in a recent blog said that the women and men in consecrated life are in “the heart of the Church.”

I certainly have experienced the work of their hearts in my own life. Several School Sisters of Notre Dame taught me at St. Joseph School in Kimmswick, Mo., including my favorite teacher, Sister Kathleen, who read “Charlotte’s Web” aloud to me and my fourth grade classmates and instilled a love of reading and creative writing in me that has shaped my life and work. No wonder “Charlotte’s Web” remains my favorite book, and Sister Kathleen remains my favorite teacher, to this day. Sister Mary Annette encouraged us to go for gold stars in our spelling tests, and to write clearly in cursive, and the dictionary at my elbow and my signature today reflect the lessons she taught us.

At St. Pius X High School in Crystal City, Mo., my math skills were sharpened by Sister Clothilde and Sister Mary Andrew, members of the Adorers of the Most Precious Blood from Ruma, Ill., who allowed no monkey business in class, and no slipshod math equations.

No religious orders taught me during my years studying journalism and art at the University of Missouri, however, during those years and as I set out to Washington for my internship and then my first job after graduation, I relied on the prayers of my mother’s dear friends, the Redemptoristine cloistered nuns in Liguori. I think many of the blessings I’ve received in those years and the years since are the results of their steadfast prayers.

Well, what can I say about my encounters over the years with religious in my work as a reporter and then editor for the Catholic Standard? Those in consecrated life in Washington and Maryland continue to be my teachers, showing me how to love and serve Jesus and his people with an open heart.

I’ve been moved to see the grave markers of early Jesuit missionaries from colonial times at Chapel Point and Newtowne in Southern Maryland, who gave their lives planting the faith in our region. The rows of simple crosses in the cemetery of the Visitation nuns behind Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School likewise stand as a quiet memorial to those sisters who taught the faith to generations of  young women in the nation’s capital.

That history is a living one, that I’ve witnessed in the Daughters of Charity serving at Providence Hospital in Washington, as they have since Abraham Lincoln signed their charter in 1864. For several years, I was blessed to work near the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, and witness their spirit of joy, love and faith as they cared for the elderly poor. I witnessed a similar spirit of joy at professions of final vows for the Missionaries of Charity, and at a profession last year of a brother at St. Anselm’s Abbey.

Throughout our community, from the break of dawn until nightfall, religious women and men begin and end their days in prayer, and in between, they serve in an array of ministries, bringing Christ’s love to our community. No wonder Pope Francis declared a Year for Consecrated Life that extends 16 months. Their story unfolds every day in a tapestry of faith and love that reveals God’s presence here and around our world.

mark@catholicstandard.org