Rise of the Roses – Rediscovering the beauty of a life promised to God
Earlier this year Pope Francis asked Religious Congregations to ‘wake up the world’ as he marked a special year (Nov 2014- Nov 2015) as the ‘Year for Consecrated Life’. One Irish initiative known as Rise of the Roses was created to respond to our Holy Fathers special request.
Rise of the Roses is the initiative of a small group of beautiful young Irish women from across the country who became friends primarily through the Michaela Foundation. At the official launch earlier this year in St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh, founder Ms Lisa O Hare, described Rise of the Roses as ‘’young people ministering to young people from the bottom up…we want young people to be aware that there is a Catholic Culture in this country!’’.
The idea of the Rise of the Roses project was to visit 10 convents during a Summer Tour around Ireland over 10 consecutive Saturdays. Song, prayer, friendship and tea were the central elements of each visit of this tour. The summer tour began in Faughart (Co Louth) at the birthplace of St Brigid on June 8th and concluded at Knock Shrine in honour of our Lady, Our Golden Rose – on the feast of the Assumption.
The Rise of the Roses mission statement, which identifies prayer at its heart, was ambitious, yet has proved completely achievable because it is joyful, attractive, genuine and sincere. It was hoped that through Rise of the Roses, we would lead people to rediscover the beauty of Consecrated Life and the gift that it is to us all. We prayed that Rise of the Roses would help create a culture of saying ‘YES’ to God. We hoped to share the beauty, vibrancy and joy of saying ‘YES!’ and promising your life to Jesus however He calls. We aimed to inspire and support young women who are discerning a call to Consecrated Religious Life.
At each convent along the tour, the young people that came along were invited to meet the various different groups of sisters, learn about their way of life and their love for God, sing, have a ‘wee tea party’, hold an hour of Eucharistic adoration, pray the rosary and plant a rose. The rose reflects a promise to pray for each other. A special Cross of Christ was also carried to each convent. Meabh Carlin, one the coordinating roses shared with all those gathered on 8th August with the sisters of the Poor Clare’s in Galway that “We began our tour with a humble wooden cross. Just as Jesus transformed His cross, a symbol of torture and death into a sign hope, life and love we are intent on transforming this simple structure into a beautiful work of art full of light and life. The ongoing work on our cross also helps us reflect on each of our own lives and our own need for continual spiritual transformation and renewal to become closer to Jesus”.
This tour has meant so much to so many of our religious throughout this country. In the words of Sr. Eileen O’Connell, a Dominican sister from Cabra, she shared that “Having seen them in action, I was really impressed by this group of young women, by what they are doing, by their faith, by their joyful and courageous witness to that faith, and by how they are putting a spotlight on the beauty of Catholic faith and of the lives of consecrated women. Thanks especially to the Roses Team … wonderful young women with an obvious love of God and a passion for rediscovering the beauty of a life promised to God … it was great to be part of this day! I came back full of excitement and possibilities and hope and wishing that more of our sisters could have experienced all that these few hours taught”.
From my own experience of joining the roses in the preparations for this tour alongside my colleague Ms. Maura Garrihy from the neighbouring Diocese of Galway, I believe that there is so much to learn about the different orders of religious life in Ireland. The Rise of the Roses tour allowed for the various sisters from the ten different orders to show us around their home, share with us the story of their founders, the saints that inspired them and their unique charism. We had the opportunity to listen to their personal testimonies and learn how they spend their time. I think we achieved what we set out to do, which was to wake Ireland up to the fact that there are so many different personalities, gifts and talents amongst the consecrated women of Ireland that are worth recognising and celebrating. It is my hope especially that through the rise of the roses tour, that our own sisters here in this diocese have experienced a sense of love and gratitude for what they are doing with their lives, and that they as sisters of today have been reinvigorated in the knowledge that they are an inspiration for the young girls of tomorrow.
Check out www.riseoftheroses.org for more info
Siobhán Bradley – Youth Ministry Director – Archdiocese of Tuam