THERE ARE SOME people who judge members of religious orders by such criteria as dress and occupation. Religious themselves have more serious agendas. Their vocation is frequently inspired by a deep love both for Christ and for his "little ones", the poorest and the weakest.
In former days this would have been manifested by their founding schools for street urchins and hospitals for the destitute. Nowadays religious, men and women, are at the forefront of relief agencies and campaigns on behalf of, as in Sr Monica's example, exploited migrants across the world. Often theirs is the only voice of prophetic protest to be raised in the midst of unjust situations. Motivated by love and supported by the structures of their communities, they are able to take risks in word and deed which may inhibit people with family responsibilities.
Celibacy can be seen clearly to be a freeing condition rather than one which binds. Poverty is a state of life which they share with those among whom they work. Obedience to Christ's invitation to follow him wherever he leads can take them into situations from which "sensible" people would withdraw.
Altogether, today's religious provide an inspiring model of discipleship.