Even though Easter was early this year, the Sisters had many participants in their annual Sorrowful Mother Vigil. People were free to come and go throughout the three hours from noon until three; many stayed for a brief time and many stayed for the entire time. The afternoon was spent listening to reflections on the Blessed Virgin Mary, singing songs in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, saying prayers dedicated to her and spending time in quiet reflection.
One of the purposes of the IHM House of Formation is to offer retreats to young women discerning a religious vocation. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were delighted to host in their new facilities twelve young women from Kansas and Oklahoma for a "Come and See" retreat from Friday, February 19 to Sunday, February 21, 2016.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a significant day in the liturgical calendar; it is the day the Catholic Church celebrates the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, free from original sin. Mary was given this great gift in order to prepare her to be the Mother of God.
In the United States and in the Diocese of Wichita, we are under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, making this day even more special. For the year 2015, on this day, Pope Francis opened the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Sisters also had an additional reason to celebrate.
One of the benefits of having their own property is the opportunity of praying in the beautiful outdoors. The Sisters envisioned walking paths on which to pray the Rosary, a grotto of Our Lady, and outdoor Stations of the Cross. Little did they know that their dream would be realized so soon with the help of many friends of IHM.
The second part of their trip was the international workshop for young consecrated men and women religious. This was held at the Vatican and included three days of workshops on the following themes: fraternal life, mission and vocation. There were over 2,600 men and women religious from all around the world. On the second day of the workshop, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, gave those in attendance an hour long General Audience which was one of the highlights of the trip. To end the conference, they attended Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
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