Today, there are more than 215 consecrated virgins living in the United States and some 3,000 living worldwide, according to the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins. The women profess their love for Christ and vow perpetual virginity, dedicating themselves to serving the Church in the world.
Four women who live as consecrated virgins in the Denver Archdiocese spoke to the Denver Catholic Register about their vocation as a bride of Christ in the world.
Anne Inkret wears a ring on her finger, but she doesn’t have a husband. She’s often asked about this outward sign of the sacramental she received as a consecrated virgin living the world. “What if you meet Mr. Right?” some will ask.
“I say, ‘Well, I have,’” said 53-year-old Inkret.
Like nuns, she’s a bride of Christ and commits to a life of service to him and his Church. But Inkret and other consecrated virgins are free to choose how to serve without restrictions to a particular apostolate.
Retired speech pathologist Celeste Thomas always thought she would marry one day. She did, but never imagined her spouse would be Jesus and her mother-in-law, Mary.
She first learned about consecrated virgins living in the world while visiting Rome but later met a man and nearly married.
“I had a real come-to-Jesus moment about my faith and what marital love means and a whole reawakening of my faith life,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t called to get married to this person, and actually I wasn’t called to get married at all.”
After several promptings, Thomas discerned and prepared for consecration. In 2003, she and Inkret became consecrated virgins living in the world.
Theresita Polzin, the oldest consecrated virgin in the archdiocese, was consecrated in a ceremony Feb. 11, 1999, at Presentation of Our Lady Parish in Denver.
“I was 83 when I heard about it,” she said.
Polzin said her vocation is aimed at helping the growth of the Church on earth.
“You can keep doing what you’re doing in world provided you’re acting like spouse of Christ when do it,” Polzin said.
Betsy Lillis said she’d choose to be a consecrated virgin living in the world again if given a choice.
“I’d do it all over again,” said the 74-year-old who works for Christian Living Communities, a retirement home community.
“Having Jesus as your spouse and friend is so freeing,” she said. “You sit and meditate and he becomes so much closer.”
Lillis is celebrating the eighth anniversary of her consecration his year.
Read more about the Denver Archdiocese’s consecrated virgins in next week’s issue of the Denver Catholic Register.