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Jenkins, Thesing and DeLee reflect on religious life, vows

| Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Last night at Legends of Notre Dame, University President Fr. John Jenkins sat on a panel with Mendoza College of Business Director of Finance and Administration Fr. Mark Thesing and Sister Lois DeLee, held in celebration of the “Year of the Consecrated Life.”

Thesing, Jenkins and DeLee talked about their different experiences in adopting the consecrated life, the challenges in realizing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, what inspired them to take those vows and what they found most rewarding in leading a consecrated life.

Jenkins said realizing this common goal of leading a meaningful life is an important, rewarding and emotional undertaking — particularly in light of a recent campus tragedy.

“One of the things that’s clear to me now is that this desire to live a meaningful life has been fulfilled in abundance,” Jenkins said. “Last night — just an example, we had a memorial mass for Lisa Yang, who took her own life, and her family was there. We gave the family a diploma posthumously for Lisa. It was just a … I don’t need to say how much of an emotional time it was for them to try to come to terms to that. But to be a part of that and to try to help them to make sense of that is a great privilege, an undeserved privilege, to be part of such a meaningful time.”

Thesing said while he started pursuing priesthood when he first visited Notre Dame, he did not begin to fully appreciate religious life until the middle of his formation.

“Although I knew I wanted to be a priest, and I knew I wanted to pursue that, I wasn’t quite sure where and how that was going to be lived out,” Thesing said. “Now some 38 years after entering the seminary, I can’t imagine my life without it. I can’t imagine being a priest without having the support or the camaraderie and the community that community life offered.

“Here I’m wearing my collar, and I’m representing something, so I’ve got to be careful about that. It’s a public life that we live and we have to be conscious about that. … I feel a little wiser now … but I also realize that I’m living here with a bunch of students or young men, and it’s about calling them to a higher life.”

DeLee said she was not fully convinced she would accept the challenges of religious life, but after starting formation and eventually completing her time as a novitiate, she said she found joy in spreading [God’s] teaching to her students and embracing God’s will.

“One of my greatest joys is being able to see how my life somehow touched their lives and brought them success or brought them love from God to make their life worthwhile,” DeLee said. “We all have relationships with the Lord. We are His servants. Let Him use us where He wants to take us and then know fear is useless. You just need trust and let God do His Work”

Jenkins also said the greatest joy of the consecrated life is how he has been able to impact people’s lives.

“The wonderful thing about this calling, and Sister [DeLee] spoke about this too with her, is that you’re invited into people’s life in a profound way,” he said. “You have the opportunity to do what you can. You always have this sense of not doing well enough, or you’re not doing as you should, but still you have that opportunity to comfort them in their sorrows, rejoice with them in their joys and help them find the Lord in an important way.”

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