Monday, August 17, 2015
Although this is rare today, consecrated virgins date back to apostolic times, hundreds of years before there were consecrated sisters and nuns. About 200 consecrated virgins live in the United States.
Fort Wayne’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception today will host a ceremony not seen in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 25 years – the dedication of a woman as a consecrated virgin.
Jessica Hayes, 38, a theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, will be dedicated to what church officials call “a spousal union with Christ lived in the midst of the world.”
That means she is not becoming a nun or a religious sister but begins a different vocation that enables her to keep her job and continue living in her own home, said Stephanie Patka, diocesan spokeswoman. Hayes will not change her name, as religious sisters and nuns often do, and will continue to dress in street clothes.
But the consecration rules out marriage in the future, and Hayes will live a life of prayer and service to church. She will continue discerning the specifics with diocesan Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as her superior.
During the 10 a.m. Mass, Hayes will be dressed in a wedding dress and prostrate herself at the altar in a manner similar to that of candidates for ordination to the priesthood.
Hayes will become the only consecrated virgin in the diocese. The most recent consecrated virgin was the late Mary Jane Carew, who died in 2012. She was a religious sister who transferred her consecrated life to the Ecclesial Order of Virgins for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 1990.