The prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life spoke to the superiors at their annual assembly, held last Friday through Monday.
During the assembly, the organization's new president, Redemptorist Father Thomas Picton, began his term. A native of Rockport, Texas, Father Picton was ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Dominican Father Dominic Izzo, who completed his two-year term as president.
In his address, Cardinal Rode summarized the history of religious life in the Church as the response of those who sensed the need "to more radically conform their lives to the teachings of the Gospel, to live a life of radical poverty, chastity and obedience in imitation of the Jesus whom they had come to know personally."
Referring to today's needs, the cardinal said that, as religious leaders, "we must ask ourselves what are the challenges which consecrated persons must respond to today in 'creative fidelity' to the mission entrusted to them for the growth of the Kingdom?"
"Consecrated persons must realize that no matter what their apostolic commitments might entail, their primary mission is that of witnessing to the values of the Kingdom," he said. "Their lives and actions must clearly show that the message of Jesus is the only message which offers the way to eternal life."
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men represents 19,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States.