05 May 2009

Congratulations to Catherine Wright, Consecrated Virgin

Congratulations to Catherine Wright on her consecration under Canon 604 to a life of consecrated virginity for women living in the world. Catherine's consecration was held in the Mission St Raphael in San Rafael, CA last Wednesday (Feast/Memorial of St Catherine of Sienna, Catherine's patron). Archbishop Neiderauer of the Archdiocese of San Francisco presided. Judith Stegman, president of the US Association of Consecrated Virgins attended and witnessed the consecration.

Received into full communion as a Catholic just six years ago, Catherine now ministers by assisting in the RCIA program herself and will continue to do that as newly consecrated spouse of Christ. During the ceremony Catherine was given a gold wedding band (above) and a copy of a Book of Hours (Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office, cf below) to indicate both her new state of life and part of the responsibilities she assumes as a result. Undoubtedly prayer is seen as a central aspect of the vocation and during the Archbishop's homily, which was mainly instructive of what Catherine undertakes in accepting this vocation, he provided a litany of the ways Catherine would pray in service of the church from this day forward. At the same time, the consecration under Canon 604 is given to women living in the world, and this is where they carry out their ministry.

Although Consecrated Virgins aren't religious, are not called Sister, and make no vows (they pledge themselves to perpetual virginity but this is not considered a vow), they do give (dedicate) themselves completely to Christ as spouse and assume a special place of service in their dioceses and parishes. The wedding ring is the single outward sign of this dedication and correlative consecration while the Rite is replete with wedding imagery. Ordinarily Consecrated Virgins are also allowed to reserve the Eucharist in a tabernacle in their own homes or apartments, just as hermits and religious houses are allowed to do. (This requires the Bishop's permission, and is not automatic, by the way. Not all Bishops grant permission.) Along with Canon 603 (consecrated or diocesan hermits), Canon 604 (order of consecrated virgins) is one of the renewed but very ancient forms of consecrated life in the Revised Code of Canon Law which came out in October (Advent), 1983.

All good wishes to Catherine as she begins this new (state of) life! It is the start of an awesome adventure.