When I first heard of this remarkable vocational program, it was from my dearest and most eloquent pro-life compadre, Cardinal John J. O'Connor. He had just instituted the vocational effort and had discovered Mother Mary Agnes, who is the superior of the order and one of the most dynamic Catholic nuns I have ever met since my unforgettable eighth-grade teacher, Sister Laurentine.
Mother Mary Agnes exudes Christ's love from every pore of her wonderfully holy being; her smile lights up a room and her words teach an entire Biblical message. Of course, her presence reminds me of the Lord Himself, though I am a bit prejudiced since Cardinal O'Connor told me of his "find" in Mother Mary Agnes long before the world knew of her mission in life.
"What is the mission of the Sisters of Life?" you might ask. Well, it is simply this:
The Sisters of Life is a contemplative/active religious community of women founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O'Connor for the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life. Like all religious communities, we take the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. We also are consecrated under a special, fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. Reverence and gratitude for the unique and unrepeatable gift of each human life made in the image and likeness of God fuels the prayer of each Sister, our first mission in building the Kingdom of God and the "Culture of Life." It also provides the starting point for our interactions with others and especially relationships in community between our 60 Sisters (who come from across the United States, Canada and Great Britain) and in our apostolates. Inspired by the love of Christ our Spouse, the author of Life, we desire to pour out all our gifts of nature and grace in the apostolate, that nothing of the gift of life and no one to whom it has been given, should be lost. Our missions are carried out with the heart of the Church and with the hope of revealing to those we serve the inherent goodness and beauty of their own lives, so that each person may see and experience the truth that they are an unrepeatable creation of the Master. We welcome pregnant guests to live with us in the Holy Respite of one of our convents, assist pregnant women in need of practical assistance through our Visitation mission, invite those who have suffered abortion to hope and healing through day and weekend Entering Canaan retreats, operate the Dr. Joseph Stanton Human Life Issues Library, direct the New York Archdiocesan Family Life/ Respect Life Office and host retreats at Villa Maria Guadalupe Retreat Center.
We at American Life League have a special interest in the work behind the goals established for the Dr. Joseph Stanton Human Life Issues Library and are working on a long-range plan for archiving the history of the pro-life movement and, in particular, the history of American Life League. We have shared our materials, our goals and our love of Christ with these sisters and never been less than totally inspired by each of them and all of them as a collective powerhouse of God's prayerful presence in our world.
If you think I am prejudiced toward their work, you are absolutely correct! From the very beginning of this order of nuns, we at American Life League have been totally on board with Cardinal O'Connor's vision and, if you don't mind, I have to say that Mother Mary Agnes has been on point as well and if the cardinal were here with us today, he would be the first to agree!
As a matter of fact, among the many profound writings and speeches His Eminence gave to the world, there are these unforgettable words, said in praise of his Sisters of Life and vocations to the loving service of God http://sistersoflife.org/history.htm: "The process of formation and development in the religious life has to be the process of the clay in the hands of the potter, the Divine Potter, Who shapes us uniquely to be filled with His Son and yet each of us in a different way… If God wanted every religious to be exactly alike, then God would have created every human being exactly alike."
John Cardinal O'Connor was a living saint, one of my most incredible friends and, in case you have not guessed, a man of great vision and love. If not for those gifts, he never would have conceived of the idea behind the Sisters of Life!
Please join me in a prayer of thanks to God for this unbelievable man, a genuine prince of the Catholic Church, John Cardinal O'Connor, his vision and the legacy he has given the world in the Sisters of Life.