Franciscan Sisters Attend Institute for Religious Life National Meeting

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

June 03, 2023

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mariella Erdmann shares her experience of the Institute on Religious Life National Meeting at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois.

Sister Natalie Binversie and Sister Mariella Erdmann attended the Institute on Religious Life National Meeting at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, IL, April 14-16, 2023.The meeting was exceptional, inspirational and faith-filled. This article can only touch on the talks which were very much in depth. April 14th was a Day for Religious, Priests and Consecrated Persons. The speakers were Father Boniface Hicks, OSB and Sister Elizabeth Beussink, TOR., who spoke on the theme of “Spousal Intimacy with Christ Through the Eucharist.”

Father Boniface explained that Vatican Council II stressed full and active participation by the people in the Eucharist at the Mass. This led to the question, how can we offer Christ’s offering of Himself, Body and Blood to the Father at Mass? We do this by allowing ourselves to be drawn to Christ and then bringing ourselves and all our intentions to the Father, within Christ, at Mass. A little water is mixed with the wine symbolizing the pouring of our humanity into the Divinity of Christ. We unite ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice to the Father and conclude with the AMEN—our total YES.

Sister Elizabeth Beussinik shared some of her life experiences as a novice and how she had to grow into intimacy with Christ through the Eucharist. These personal examples of transformation were examples of our own individual journey toward intimacy with Christ through the Eucharist.

The afternoon sessions by these two speakers focused on being with our Lord in silence. It is a movement of the Holy Spirit for Eucharistic Adoration. We lower ourselves in Adoration and Christ raises us up after we bow down before Him. By exposing ourselves in our sinfulness we have our sins released and our guilt removed. We bring our entire lives into relationship with Christ. We come before Christ faithful, free, total and fruitful.

The first speaker for Saturday’s meeting was Father James Mc Curry, OFM Conv., who talked about five Catholic Priests who were “Prisoners of Conscience.” By this he meant they held the Eucharist in such high esteem that they refused to stop being loyal to their Catholic beliefs especially the Eucharist knowing they would be arrested, imprisoned and tortured. The examples were very moving.

Kathleen Beckman was the second speaker. She started by saying, “Humanity is longing for love. Jesus in the Eucharist is there to love us. Just let go and surrender to Him.” We should be transformed every time we receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist is Trinitarian. The speaker talked about the life of Blessed Conchita, 1862-1937, and her spirituality. Conchita declared that our desires are infinite and can only be filled in the Eucharist—Father Son and Spirit. We need a revolution of love to save the world today; love that sees the evils around us, but chooses to see good in people caught in addiction, abuse and many other situations.

Another presenter, Sister Alicia Torres, FE, shared on the Eucharist having three aspects: sacrifice, presence, and communion. A Eucharistic life is patterned after the life of Jesus. We are made in the image and likeness of God. The three Divine Persons are always present in each other. Our lives must be sacrifice, presence and communion to others.

Msgr. Swetland, S.T.D. mentioned Karl Rahner saying that, “Christians in the future would either be mystics or nothing.” In other words, we need to see things as God sees them. Each and every one of us is beloved of God; we are chosen and loved at baptism. Young people are looking for unity, love and belonging. We need to help them see that in Christ we are brought back to harmony with God and can be in harmony with one another, if we truly want to be healed. We are asked to take up our cross and follow Jesus in our broken world in order to be grace for others. We are asked to pour out our lives as Christ did for others as God wills.

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