NORTH PROVIDENCE — At 103, Sister Savina D’Agostino, FMM, could have spent the chilly Sunday afternoon relaxing in her res-idence next door, but made the trek over to the beautiful chapel at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary complex on Fruit Hill because she didn’t want to miss the opportunity to gather in celebration with fellow religious from across the diocese on the special day creat-ed by Pope Saint John Paul II for that purpose.
The pope established World Day of Consecrated Life in 1997 as a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This cele-bration is normally attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2, known as Candlemas Day — the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world — but was celebrated in local churches on February 5. Like candles, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
“I think it was a privilege to come here and enjoy this,” said Sister Savina, who spent 26 years of her ministry on a Navajo Reserva-tion running a residence for young women before returning to her native Federal Hill.
Sister Savina joined approximately 75 fellow religious Sisters, Brothers and order priests in a prayer service and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament led by Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans.
Bishop Evans noted that in declaring a Marian Year in the Diocese of Providence in 2017 Bishop Tobin wishes that everyone will strive anew to imitate the Blessed Mother’s virtues and seek her protection and grace in their lives, just as those consecrated as reli-gious do.
“As servants of God called to a discipleship made incarnate by being consecrated to vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as children of a religious institute or family established by a founder inspired by the Holy Spirit to reflect the charismatic dimension of the Church, you are sign to others that we Christians, while in this world, are not of this world,” Bishop Evans said.
“But you do this to a degree and with a supernatural assistance available specifically to you because of the grace of your vocation, for this you were created, for this you were born, for this you were formed. Just as there was not a single day that Mary did not ponder in her heart the wondrous deeds that God brought in her and through her so may you with hearts undivided by worldly airs or dis-tracted by temporal considerations continue to bear witness each and every day of your lives to the wonders God continues to per-form among his holy people.”
Before the prayer service, the religious gathered together in the Missionaries’ hall where they enjoyed a presentation by Father Ambrose Little, O.P. “Mary the Tower of Ivory,” whose title derives from the Litany of Loretto.
“It highlights the virtue of Mary’s purity, and purity, as we hear from the Beatitudes, ‘Blessed are the Pure of Heart for they see God.’ This is a central part to any religious vocation. A desire to see God with pure hearts,” Father Little said.
The religious then gathered in the dining room to enjoy a meal together.
Sister Rose Marie Higgins, FMM, communications director of the province and coordinator of the event, said the religious look forward to this event each year as they get to interact with their peers from different communities.
“It’s an opportunity to meet Sisters and Brothers from different communities and renew friendships amongst them,” she said. “It’s meeting new people as well as old friends.”
Sister Anne Dundin, FMM, said that while she enjoyed the day of celebration there was also an undercurrent of sadness to the oc-casion.
“The group is smaller and older every year, but we’re glad to be able to pray together here in this beautiful chapel.”