Emily Byers, a consecrated virgin in the Diocese of Lafayette, recently traveled to Rome to attend the closing ceremonies of the Year of Consecrated Life, which concluded with a papal audience and Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2. This celebration of the diverse forms of consecrated life present in the Church included an international gathering of the Ordo Virginum, the ancient “Order of Virgins” that was renewed after the Second Vatican Council. This is only the third such gathering to happen since 1970. Approximately 500 consecrated virgins representing six continents, along with over 30 bishops and priests, attended the international meeting to hear talks by expert theologians and testimonies from women living as consecrated virgins in diverse cultural contexts. There are currently over 4000 consecrated virgins living in the world in at least 78 countries, including 235 in dioceses across the United States.
Emily, who teaches at John Paul the Great Academy, describes summarizes her experience by saying, “Being in Rome with so many other women living as consecrated virgins was a powerful experience of community for me. It deepened my desire to live my vocation with wholehearted joy— as Pope Francis has encouraged us to do!— here in the Diocese of Lafayette.”
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