On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2015, Jessica Hayes was consecrated to a life of virginity at a rite celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many friends, priests and well-wishers joined the 38-year old high school teacher as she declared her resolution to persevere in holy virginity as a bride of Christ.
Dressed in a wedding gown, Jessica was accompanied by two attendants. As part of the ceremony, she said to the bishop: “Father, receive my resolution to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity which, with God’s help, I here profess before you and God’s holy people.” To signify the spousal relationship between Jessica and the Lord, the Bishop gave the newly consecrated virgin a veil (“Receive this veil, by which you are to show that you have been chosen from other women to be dedicated to the service of Christ and of His Body, which is the Church.”) and a ring (“Receive the ring that marks you as a bride of Christ. Keep unstained your fidelity to your Bridegroom, that you may one day be admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy.”) She also received a Liturgy of the Hours, showing that she is praying the Church’s official prayers along with other consecrated individuals.
Jessica told the diocese’s Catholic newspaper that she felt a “deep gratitude for the Church and for being Catholic, knowing whatever desire is placed upon our hearts by God, the Church has a place for us. And this is my place.”
The model and mirror for a life of virginity is the Blessed Mother of Jesus. As the bishop said in his homily, “It is God who gives the grace of virginity. He gave this grace to the young woman of Nazareth, to Mary, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to choose the life of virginity. Mary made a personal decision in faith to remain a virgin, to offer her heart to the Lord. She wanted to be His faithful bride.”
“Thus, Mary became the model for all those who have chosen to serve the Lord with an undivided heart in virginity.It seems most appropriate that Jessica gives herself totally to Jesus, is consecrated to a life of virginity, on a feast of Our Lady, who gave herself totally to God as the virgin handmaid of the Lord.”
Jessica is the only consecrated virgin in the diocese and will continue her work as a high school theology teacher at a local high school.
To read a reflection by Jessica and the bishop’s homily and to see all the beautiful pictures, click here!