|Pope Paul VI re-instituted the Rite of Consecration of Virgins Living in the World
on May 31, 1970, exactly 45 years to the date of Sheila Ryan’s consecration.
Sheila Ryan, a retired school teacher and administrator, became the first woman in the Diocese of Pittsburgh to receive the Rite of Consecration of a Virgin Living in the World, according to a report by Peter Smith in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
This past May, Ryan received a veil and ring during the celebration to symbolize her marriage to Christ alone. She also received an edition of the Liturgy of the Hours, a set of daily prayers she has committed to offering.
Judith Stegman of Michigan, president of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, estimates that there are about 230 consecrated virgins in the United States and about 3,500 worldwide. Unlike a nun or religious sister, a consecrated virgin doesn’t join a religious community or take vows, Stegman says A consecrated virgin must provide her own home and livelihood and is expected to commit to prayer and volunteer in her parish.
“I knew as a teenager that I was not called to the married state,” Ryan said. “It’s listening to God and being open to his workings of grace within us. Nobody would seek this life, which is countercultural, unless it were a gift from God. And I consider it a gift.”