By Bishop James Conley
This past Sunday, the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Diocese of Lincoln celebrated the establishment of our own School Sisters of Christ the King as a Religious Institute of Diocesan Right.
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Founded in 1976 by my predecessor, the Most Reverend Glennon P. Flavin, the Seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln, the School Sisters of Christ the King have educated thousands of children in our Catholic schools and in CCD programs throughout the diocese and beyond.
In 1996, my immediate predecessor, the Most Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz, the Eighth Bishop of Lincoln, recognized the School Sisters of Christ the King as a Public Association of the Faithful.
Establishing the School Sisters of Christ the King as a religious institute is a recognition of God’s guiding hand on their lives, their charism, and their community over these past 40 years. It is a recognition that they live the life of consecration to which they have been called, as a public, vital and enduring part of the Church’s own life.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that consecrated life is “one way of experiencing a ‘more intimate’ consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.”
In consecrated life, our religious sisters give themselves entirely and freely to Christ our King; they seek to follow him perfectly, in the light of the Holy Spirit, they seek to serve his Kingdom, and to be signs of Christ’s eternal glory.
The Second Vatican Council reminds us that consecrated religious are witnesses to the power and potential of our baptism, and to the reality of the universal call to holiness. Because of their singular commitment to Christ, consecrated religious remind us that union with Christ is the final aim of each of our lives, and the only thing that really gives it meaning.
Consecrated religious are called, above all else, to pursue holiness with zeal, and singularity of purpose. To pursue intimacy with Christ, and to witness to that pursuit. For that reason, an institute of consecrated life is not only defined by what it does — by its apostolate — but by the way in which it places the pursuit of holiness above all else.
At the fundamental core of religious life, therefore, is prayer. To serve Christ, as a School Sister of Christ the King, is to know Christ. To bear fruit in apostolic life requires fruitful interior lives. The heart of consecrated life is not the classroom, or the office, or any apostolic work. The heart of consecrated life is prayer, union with the heart of Jesus Christ, especially in the Sacred Liturgy and in the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass.
The School Sisters of Christ the King remind all of us of the permanent things, the signs of the Kingdom. By their consecration, all of us remember that we were made for more than this world. They point us to heaven! The School Sisters are a reminder, for each one of us, of what it means to make Christ the King of our hearts.
Let us give thanks to the Lord for their witness, and pray that we all might follow Jesus Christ, in worship, in holiness, and in charity.