Consecrated virgins living in the world

First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
Previous Next

The Rite of Consecrated Virginity is the newest rite in the Arlington Diocese, but it is by no means new to the Catholic Church. It is the church's most ancient rite for women, one chosen by St. Agnes, and St. Lucy, among others. They offered up their virginity and ultimately their lives for the service of God, their Divine Spouse.

The rise of religious orders caused the ancient practice to drift out of view until the Second Vatican Council. On May 31,1970, the Congregation of Divine Worship recognized the value of consecrated virginity to the church and published the Rite of Consecration of Virgins Living in the World. It was recognized formally by the council and is explained in Canon 604 of the 1982 Code of Canon Law. The ultimate decision to adopt the rite was left up to each diocese's bishop who is the virgin's sole superior in the church.

Because consecrated virgins do not wear habits, many in the diocese are not aware of these women ministering in their communities. Marielisa Puigbó and Carmen Briceño are two such women living out this vocation in the diocese. Originally from Venezuela, both separately discerned the religious life, but could not find the right fit.

"I totally wanted to give everything to God," said Puigbó. "I fell in love with the way (the consecrated virgins) give their freedom to God." After Puigbó was consecrated by her bishop in Venezuela, she left her country and joined her brother, Father Juan A. Puigbó, in the United States.

Like any vocation, the life of a consecrated virgin presents its own challenges. Since they are not a religious order and do not take vows the women are not entitled to financial support by the church. Many consecrated virgins have regular jobs, such as Briceño who works in the youth ministry office of All Saints Church in Manassas. Puigbó, however, made the decision a few years ago to quit her parish position and give half her day completely to God in prayer. This required her to find another source of income.

"God had given me a lot of gifts with my hands," said Puigbó. "I make cakes, rosaries and recycle candles so I can fundraise for my daily expenses. As part of her ministry Puigbó helps the immigrant community in the diocese by leading marriage prep class and family counseling sessions through the Vocare Foundation in Manassas.

In 2014, Bishop Paul S. Loverde ask Father Joel D. Jaffe, director of vocations, to look into the rite of consecrated virgins after a number of women expressed interest in the vocation. After a year of research, preparation and ultimately prayer, Bishop Loverde formally adopted the rite last February, just in time for the Year of Consecrated Life.

While women in the diocese now have the opportunity to enter into this vocation, Father Jaffe, Puigbó and Briceño encourage women to first look into a variety of religious orders. Unlike a religious vow that can be dispensed, one cannot "undo" this form of consecration because it is modeled upon the bond Christ has with His church, according to a vocations office information packet.

According to Father Jaffe, the church does not actively promote consecrated virginity but welcomes and assists those who feel called to this way of life. Those like Briceño, who have taken that final step in this vocation, feel very fulfilled in the path they have chosen.

"It's exciting to be open to the Holy Spirit and living this real relationship with Christ with its highs and its lows but with permanent fidelity and promise that one day what I'm living now I will actually live to the fullest face to face (in heaven)," said Briceño.

For more information on consecrated virgins please contact the Office of Vocations.

Buyers can be reached at abuyers@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015