As part of the Year of Consecrated Life celebrations, a unique vocation was recently honored in Indiana's Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend: canonical hermit.
According to Today's Catholic News, Sister Mary Ann Burkhart professed first vows at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne in July. Sisters Jane Brackebush and Nancy Frentz, who have been hermits for one and two years respectively, were part of the celebration.
All three women were married earlier in life (two of them have children and grandchildren) and later discerned a call to the eremitical life.
Bishops are allowed to accept hermits in their dioceses who were not affiliated with religious orders. Each hermit has a rule of life approved by the bishop, who serves as their superior. Their lives are marked by solitary prayer.