That’s your humble blogger in the picture with Father Frank Passenant, my parish’s administrator, and Angela Scannapieco, a consecrated virgin.
My parish tonight completed a nine-week Novena for Vocations, featuring guest speakers every week on different vocations, and our speaker tonight was Angela— one of two consecrated virgins in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
She made news and made history 16 years ago:
After several years of prayer and preparation, two Brooklyn women were consecrated as virgins yesterday during a Catholic ceremony that was last performed in the diocese in the mid-19th century.
At a time when sex is seemingly everywhere but virginity is in the news – thanks to pop star Britney Spears’ pledge of abstinence – the women committed themselves to a life of celibacy during the Solemn Rite of Consecration of Virgins for Women Living in the World.
The ceremony dates back to the church’s ancient days and can only be performed by a bishop, in this case Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn, who presided at Cathedral Basilica of St. James in downtown Brooklyn.
“This doesn’t happen very often. It’s an ancient ceremony. But these two young women want to live as lay people,” Daily said. “This is their sacrifice.”
With several hundred looking on, Junette Maria Romero of Flatbush and Angela Scannapieco of Williamsburg donned white wedding-like gowns yesterday, took their vows of celibacy and received rings to mark their status.
She told the story of her vocation this evening:
Growing up in Brooklyn, Scannapieco, 43, was taught by nuns, so the convent life was “attractive to me.” But when she was in her twenties — the age most women enter convents — “I was away from the church a little bit. I did the bar scene. I went through that stage — ‘I’m free now, I’m 21!’ ”
Still, there were limits to her partying. “I grew up with the idea that you didn’t have sex until you got married,” she said. “I wasn’t planning on being a consecrated virgin when I was 20, 21. I thought, ‘Okay, it’ll happen eventually when Mister Right comes along.’ ”
Then a friend asked her to teach Sunday school, and she loved it. She now works for Youth 2000 New York, organizing retreats for young Catholics. The wall over her desk is covered with photos of who she calls her “spiritual children” — girls and young women who call her “Ma,” send her their college graduation photos, and drop by to join her for Mass. Her relationship with them was a “big motivating factor” in consecrating her virginity.
About consecrated virgins:
From the Code of Canon Law:
• The virgin is consecrated to God by the diocesan Bishop according to a rite approved by the church. [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 922-924]
• She is betrothed mystically to Christ and dedicated to the service of the church.
• She enters a public state of consecrated life in the Church.
• She lives her life individually, under the direction of the diocesan Bishop.
From the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity:
• The consecrated virgin is constituted a sacred person in the Church.
• No particular service or spirituality is imposed; the consecrated virgin’s time is spent in works of penance and of mercy, in apostolic activity, and in prayer, in accord with her state of life and spiritual gifts.
• She is strongly advised to recite the Liturgy of the Hours daily, and is committed to praying Morning and Evening Prayer.
• Her life is one of perpetual virginity.
The consecrated virgin remains in the secular state, providing completely for her own material needs, medical care, and retirement. At no time is the diocese financially responsible for her.
A couple years ago, NET-TV in Brooklyn profiled Angela. (Check it out below.) It was great to welcome her to our parish and introduce more people to this little-known and often misunderstood vocation.