Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Consecrated virgin: A less familiar vocation

Nov. 9, 2022

By Darcy Fargo

While the vocation has ancient roots, the Diocese of Ogdensburg may have never had a consecrated virgin serving here before.

That will change, God willing, as Bishop Terry R. LaValley is scheduled to celebrate the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity on April 16 of next year, Divine Mercy Sunday, consecrating Mary Beth Bracy, a parishioner of Holy Cross Parish in Plattsburgh and North Country Catholic contributing writer, formally into that vocation.

“The Order of Virgins is a special expression of consecrated life that blossomed anew in the Church after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI said in 2008. “Its roots, however, are ancient; they date back to the dawn of apostolic times when, with unheard of daring, certain women began to open their hearts to the desire for consecrated virginity, in other words, to the desire to give the whole of their being to God, which had had its first extraordinary fulfillment in the Virgin of Nazareth and her ‘yes.’”

“A vocation is a call by virtue of our baptism that is given to each person to carry forward a special mission in life to serve the Kingdom of God,” said Sister Mary Eamon Lyng, a Sister of St. Joseph and diocesan Vocations coordinator. “Vocation is a way of life lived out by the grace of God to do the spiritual works and corporal works of mercy faithfully that leads us to holiness. There may be women who are not called to religious life but desire to consecrate their life to God as a perpetual virgin. This is a special calling. There is a long period of discernment, spiritual direction and formation that guide women to this special way of life. This way of life would be a blessing to the life of the Church in the Diocese of Ogdensburg.”

The vocation is different from a vocation to consecrated religious life.

“Religious life is a way of life that can be priests, brothers or sisters living in community, embracing the spirituality, charism and teachings of the community’s founder; members follow Jesus taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, growing in holiness through their gift of themselves to God and His people,” Sister Eamon said. “The Diocese of Ogdensburg has both religious women and men who serve in parishes, schools and diocesan offices.”

By contrast, a consecrated virgin is consecrated to God by a diocesan bishop and serves under the direction of the bishop. A consecrated virgin is “betrothed mystically to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church,” Sister Eamon said, summarizing Canon Law. “No particular service or spirituality is imposed; the consecrated virgin’s time is spent in works of penance and of mercy, in apostolic activity, and in prayer, in accord with her state of life and spiritual gifts.”

A consecrated virgin lives in “the midst of the world,” according to the publication, The Companion Discernment Guide to Consecrated Virgins in Today's Church.

“She does not wear a habit or veil, nor does she use the title ‘Sister,’” the publication states. “While she may associate with other consecrated virgins for friendship and mutual encouragement, she lives her vocation individually. She provides completely for her own material needs, including medical care and retirement resources, through employment, pension, or other means. At no time is her diocese financially responsible for her.”

A consecrated virgin is not restricted to a particular ministry.

“She is free to choose her own way of serving the church according to her natural and spiritual gifts, The Companion Discernment Guide states. “Consecrated virgins usually offer their free time, as they are able, to their parish, diocese, or Church-sponsored association. Some volunteer their time also in civic responsibilities.”

“The day is ordered for the love of our Bridegroom Jesus, and we bring His Love to our occupations,” said Bracy.

“A consecrated virgin's day should include Mass and the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours. Many consecrated virgins spend time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration daily, as well as pray the Rosary or other Marian devotions, especially since the Blessed Mother was the first consecrated virgin and is our model. If you think about how much time the average person spends using technology, watching television, etc., it's all about choosing what is most important to you. From the foundation of a consecrated virgin's life of prayer naturally flows her life of service to the community and diocesan Church; likewise, the outpouring of grace from our time with the Lord overflows into our occupations. Some consecrated virgins are healthcare providers or teachers, others work in various Church positions; still, some are firefighters or city planners and so on. In the early centuries of the Church, St. Macrina the Younger (the elder sister of Saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebastea) was a consecrated virgin. She ran her family's estate and encouraged her brothers in their faith formation and ultimately their vocations. Many consecrated virgins assist in catechesis, whether through writing, speaking, or teaching.”

Bracy plans to continue in her current occupation as a copy writer for a Catholic publishing company, as well. She also notes that she will still have time with friends and family and participating in hobbies and recreation.
“One of the wonderful things about living in the North Country is that there are so many beautiful places to hike,” she said.

As she continues on her path to consecration, Bracy will continue to work with the diocesan Vocations Office and Bishop LaValley.

Sister Eamon noted that preparation for consecration is dependent upon the life experience, charism and gifts of the woman. It can include specific materials for study; developing a rule of life that includes a consistent pattern of prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, meditation on sacred Scripture, devotion to Mary and fasting and penance as appropriate; creating a plan for daily, monthly and yearly prayer, retreat participation, spiritual direction, and meetings with the vocations office and the bishop; and continuing faith formation.

To learn more about the vocation, visit consecratedvirgins.org.

To read Mary Beth's vocation story, click here.

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.