by Fr Tien Cao, Vocations Director
Some time ago, I had the privilege of assisting with a vocations retreat in Palmerston North. To my surprise, among the seventeen young men and women in attendance, several women approached me seeking more information about the vocation of a Consecrated Virgin. These women were drawn to this way of life because it offers both independence and the opportunity to consecrate themselves to God.
Upon returning to the Diocese of Christchurch, I felt a strong calling in my heart to do something about this growing interest. Following the diocesan rite of the consecration of Tema Colati, I decided to reach out to all the Consecrated Virgins within our diocese. Through conversations with these remarkable individuals, I came to understand that they find deep contentment in their way of life and take great pride in their vocations.
Living as a Consecrated Virgin requires financial self-sufficiency, while dedicating one’s life to prayer and holiness in a secular world. To meet these demands, these daughters of the Church engage in various forms of work, using their work environments as opportunities to bear witness to their vocation.
During my discussions with them, I also became aware of their concern that the vocation of Consecrated Virgin remains relatively unknown to the public. Few people realise that it was one of the earliest forms of Consecrated Life, preceding the establishment of religious institutes and orders. The Edict of Milan in 313 AD granted religious tolerance to Christians and allowed them to freely practise their faith within the Roman Empire. This edict is a crucial milestone in the history of Christianity and religious freedom. While Christians were no longer persecuted by an empire, requiring them to be martyred for the faith, many individuals continued to consecrate themselves to God as Virgins, bearing witness to their renunciation of worldly pleasures in favour of eternal joy.
For our Consecrated Virgins, God has chosen them, both for themselves and for the greater good of the Church. Through prayer and discernment, these women have come to understand God’s will for them. As with other forms of consecrated life, God calls us to live a life of grace in Christ, one that complements, rather than contradicts our human nature. For those who embrace the life of consecration, God becomes their top priority.
Women and girls of deep faith who wish to explore the life of a Consecrated Virgin are invited to seek out one of these consecrated virgins within our diocese. These dedicated individuals are more than willing to share insights into their way of life and provide guidance.