two holy Dominican Sisters (from the New Forest priory) are going to speak to you at the end of Mass and I'd like you to save your attention for them.
Today is the worldwide day of prayer for vocations.
We tend to think of this as vocations to the priesthood, which is its initial focus, being always on 'Good Shepherd Sunday', the 4th Sunday of Easter.
But the simple point I want to make to you now is that one of the ways that God cares for and shepherds His Church is through vocations to 'Religious Life', to monks, nuns, and religious sisters and brothers.
This has taken a wide variety of forms through the Church's history:
We read of the order of widows that St Paul speaks in his epistles,
We know of hermits like St Anthony in the desert,
And of monks like St Benedict in abbey communities,
And nuns like St Scholastica.
And we know they did a wide variety of different apostolates:
Enclosed contemplatives in prayer like St Clare,
& Active caring for the poor and destitute like Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
As you know, for some decades there was a great crisis in Religious Life in the 1960s onwards, and many left.
But you may be less aware of the fact that there has also been a great renewal and revival, and the sisters speaking to us at the end of Mass today are a part of that:
A new congregation, doing a slightly new apostolate,
But part of an old and eternal thing in the life of the Church: 'Religious Life'
-one of ways Christ still shepherds His Church today.
Here is a photo of Sr Mary Catherine OP, speaking at the end of Mass today:
Here is a photo of Sr Mary Benedicta OP and Sr Mary Catherine OP in the hall after Mass, over tea and coffee, with Fr Dylan:
Fr Dylan showing the two sisters Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, the 'must see' sight for every visitor: