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Sarah Daszczuk will enter a new way of life this November, and she says her experience of community, faith and scholarship — and the Eucharist — at Benedictine College in Atchison Kansas, led her there.
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki will receive Sarah Daszczuk Nov. 26 as a consecrated virgin, a way of life that is a perhaps unusual but growing vocation.
“Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the way Jesus pursued me and led me to this vocation,” she said. “My time at Benedictine is a huge part of that story. After all, it was in my freshmen church history class that I first learned about consecrated virgins.”
A consecrated virgin shares similarities with typical religious life, such as a spousal relationship with Christ. But, there are some important differences too. In Sarah’s case the Archbishop rather than a religious superior will be responsible for her spiritual welfare. Additionally, the Rite of Consecration looks rather different than religious profession.
“One of the beautiful parts of this vocation is the Rite itself,” said Sarah. “Similar to the diocesan priesthood, consecrated virgins don’t take vows. Instead we are consecrated by the bishop through a laying on of hands. Which means our vocation lasts beyond death, though vows end at death, making it one of the most permanent vocations in the Church. I get to begin living now, what we’ll all be living in heaven!”
The United States Association of Consecrated Virgins website explains: “The consecrated virgin does not wear habit or veil, nor use the title ‘Sister,’ nor write ‘OCV’ after her name. She witnesses subtly, but publicly and powerfully, by her virginal life given exclusively to Jesus Christ. Consecrated virgins today wear their ring, but their comportment, modesty in dress, simplicity in lifestyle all betoken their living of” poverty, obedience and chastity.
The website shows hundreds of consecrated virgins worldwide, including 254 in America and, surprisingly, more than 600 in both Italy and France. St. Kateri Tekakwitha is listed on the site as a patron.
Sarah says she developed her prayer life and habits of service in receiving spiritual direction at Benedictine College’s college ministry, and this “lit a fire for serving the Church.”
“A consecrated virgin is free to have any job she desires, though most work in the local church,” she said. “I have worked in my diocese for the past 11 years and intend to continue with that work. As part of my rule of life I am also committed to works of mercy, praying for the Church, and supporting priests.
Sarah has high hopes for Benedictine College’s focus on Eucharistic adoration. Perpetual Adoration on campus helped encourage her vocation. “I remember fondly the many hours spent in the St. Ben’s adoration chapel grappling with this call and learning surrender,” Sarah wrote.
She said the community, faith and scholarship at the college were key:
“It’s hard to summarize how much I loved my time at Benedictine and how formative it was for me: mind, heart, body, and soul. I had a conversion when I was a junior in high school; so when I arrived on campus, I loved Jesus. But over the next four years I learned how to pray, study Scripture, listen to the Holy Spirit, and rely on the Sacraments. My love for the Solemnity of Christ the King was born out of the Eucharistic procession and celebration we had on campus. “
As her consecration day approaches, she offered these words of thanks to the school:
“Thank you for your love of Jesus and Our Lady. Thank you for your leadership of our alma mater: I feel constant joy and pride to be a Benedictine College alumnus. Thank you for your fidelity to the Church and your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Thank you for providing a safe place for my vocation to grow: a place where I could learn to listen, explore, and respond to God’s call in my life. Benedictine is truly a gift to the Kingdom!”
Image: Diocese of Lansing, Mich.