MURRELLS INLET— Stacy Cretzmeyer, Ph.D., an author and licensed professional counselor, will receive one of the oldest sacramentals in the Church on Aug. 15.
The long-time member of St. Michael Church will be consecrated as a virgin living in the world, according to Canon 604.
The vocation of consecrated virginity dates back to the earliest centuries of the Catholic Church. The consecrated virgin’s mission is to serve the Church as virgin, bride, and mother. She strives to imitate Mary in leading a life of prayer, penance, sacrifice, and service, especially to her diocese.
This is different from vows professed by religious sisters, who follow the charism of their particular community, however.
The consecrated virgin is called to live her apostolate in a personal way, guided by the Holy Spirit. She does not live in a community, but in her own home, and must earn her own living. Cretzmeyer will continue to work as a counselor in private practice, but much of her free time will be spent in prayer, assisting at Mass, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Her canonical status is indicated by a ring.
“This vocation is definitely counter-cultural,” Cretzmeyer said in a press release. “[Father Thomas] Dubay calls it ‘the most radical lifestyle one can imagine.’ It is not easy to give witness to a different way of life, but our Lord gives us the grace to do what He asks of us for the sake of the kingdom.”
She will join in a vocation shared by approximately 200 others who are currently registered in the United States, according to the Association of Consecrated Virgins based in Lansing, Mich.
Though she dated and wanted to marry and have children, Cretzmeyer said she felt a growing call to a deeper relationship with Christ.
“The Lord was making a growing statement to me over a period of years,” she said.
She had a deep desire to help people grow closer to Jesus, but discerned that she did not have a vocation to the religious life. Cretzmeyer was considering making private vows to God when a priest suggested she consider being consecrated to Christ.
“Father Christian Carr, the retired Abbot of Mepkin Abbey, encouraged me to pray about it every day, in the sense of turning my life over to the Lord,” she said. “At the time, I was not ready for such a public witness. I thought I could just make private promises to the Lord, and that would be the end of the vocation question.”
The meaning and focus of her vocation became clear when she joined the Corpus Christi Marian Movement, developed by Father Stanley Smolenski, spma, director of the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina — Our Lady of Joyful Hope.
A group of prayerful friends helped her form a Corpus Christi Cenacle at St. Michael Church in 2011 that followed the format developed by Father Smolenski. Soon, they decided to make a deeper commitment, and with his guidance, they made their Corpus Christi oblations on Dec. 12, 2011.
Cretzmeyer still felt a growing call to dedicate her life to pray and sacrifice for priests, however.
“The Mass is the source and summit of our Christian life, so we need priests,” she said.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#923): “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.”
By this solemn rite (Consecratio Virginum), the virgin is “constituted… a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.”
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