The chaplaincy at St Thomas More Language College, Chelsea, organised a one day conference for its students to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life and to explore the call to vocation. Students welcomed sixty-four members of various Religious Orders and Institutes to share their stories and unpack the particular charisms of their founders.
The event held in the College on Wednesday 4 March saw the normal timetable collapsed to allow the whole school community to participate in this special one day event.
The day began with a keynote address delivered by Fr Stephen Langridge, the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark.
The College had invited Religious Orders and Institutes of Consecrated Life to send two delegates to work with students in small groups exploring the theme of vocation. Students heard from delegates their own stories of God’s call to conversion of life and how they as individuals and groups seek to serve the needs of the world today.
Delegates came from across the capital and the country with Priests, Friars, Canons, Sisters and Consecrated persons as well as seminarians from Allen Hall who all shared their personal stories of vocation and the joys and challenges of living the Consecrated Life.
At midday students and guests gathered for a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Vincent and concelebrated by the clergy and Religious who had gathered for the day. The College Liturgical Choir sang the setting Missa De Angelis and the anthem Panis Anglicus and the College’s Gospel Choir sang some beautiful meditational music during the distribution of Holy Communion.
Fr Antony Homer, the College Chaplain and organiser of the event, was overjoyed at the response his invitation to the Religious had generated: “The students actively engaged with each presentation and asked searching questions as they explored what it means to live the consecrated life in the 21st century. It is hoped this event will raise the profile of these men and women who have actively consecrated themselves to the service of the Lord in response to the needs of our world. The consecrated life is such a beautiful, dynamic and wonderful force for good in our world and the witness of these men and women certainly stirred the hearts and minds of our whole community challenging each of us to consider afresh the invitation of Christ made at our Baptism”.
Guests from different Religious Orders and Institutions included the Canons of Pemontre in Chelmsford, the Benedictines of Farnborough Abbey and Quarr Abbey, The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Kingstanding, The Sisters of Reconciliation in Walsingham, The Franciscans of the Renewal, the Comboni Sisters, the Grey Friars, the Dominican Sisters from the New Forest, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Poor Clare’s from Arkley, Sisters from Littlemore near Oxford, Poor Servants of the Mother of God, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Missionary Sisters from Bromley, the Jesuits, Sisters of Christ in Wimbledon, Carmelite Missionaries, Holy Cross Missionaries and students and seminarians from Allen Hall in Chelsea.