Taryn Watkins is consecrated to Christ in the Order of Virgins at cathedral rite

Kneeling before Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Taryn Watkins states her intention to follow Christ "in a life of perfect chastity." With them are priests who played a role in her discernment and formation as a consecrated virgin. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Declaring her resolve “to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity,” Taryn Watkins was consecrated to the Order of Virgins by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, on Dec. 8. The ritual took place during the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

The bishop said that with her consecration, Watkins would be bound to Christ, “the Son of the Virgin and the Bridegroom of virgins. He will call you into his presence and into his Kingdom, where you will sing a new song as you follow the Lamb of God wherever he leads you.”

After declaring her willingness to accept consecration as a bride of Christ, Taryn Watkins smiles. Applauding for her are her sister, Jayme, and Father Alexander Millar, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, and those who filled the cathedral on Dec. 8. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

As a symbol of dying to the world, Watkins prostrated herself on the sanctuary floor and was covered with a funeral pall while the Litany of the Saints was sung.

Then, kneeling before Bishop Jenky in a white dress she made from wool, she received a wedding veil and ring as the insignia of her consecration. He also presented to her the Liturgy of the Hours, which is the prayer of the church.

“May the praise of our heavenly Father be always on your lips,” the bishop said. “Pray without ceasing for the salvation of the whole world.”

Reading the Exhortation for a Consecrated Virgin, which is part of the rite, Bishop Jenky said Watkins’ consecration was “a call to greater fervor in spreading the Kingdom of God and in giving to the world the spirit of Christ. Think of the good she will accomplish by her prayers and good works, and the abundant blessings she will obtain from God for holy Church, for human society, for your families.”

A consecrated virgin’s bond with Christ is a covenant that lasts forever, he said. “Make your whole life reflect your vocation and your dignity.”

Bishop Jenky encouraged her to nourish her love for God with the Eucharist, self-denial, studying the Scriptures, untiring prayer, works of mercy, and keeping her thoughts on the things of God.

“Never forget that you are given over entirely to the service of the church and of all your brothers and sisters,” Bishop Jenky said.

THE RIGHT FIT

After being consecrated as a bride of Christ, Taryn Watkins processes down the main aisle of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Dec. 8. She is one of five consecrated virgins living in the Diocese of Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Assisting Watkins was her sister, Jayme. Her parents, Deanna and Phillip Watkins, and grandmother, Doris Garland, sat in the first pew during the emotional liturgy.

Garland said they had been praying as she discerned how God was calling her over the years. Her search took her to a Carmelite community in New York for a time, but it wasn’t a good fit.

“We knew that it would be some way of consecrating her life to Christ,” Garland told The Catholic Post at the reception and art show that followed in the parish hall of St. Philomena Church in Peoria. Watkins teaches art at St. Philomena School.

“She’s a wonderful young lady,” Garland said as she watched her granddaughter greet her guests. “Christ must be totally joyful.”

“She’d been looking, searching, and seeking,” said Deanna Watkins, Taryn’s mother, as she prepared to cut the cake made with flavors inspired by the Bible’s Song of Songs. “We were happy that she finally found what she was searching for.”

Watkins is the fifth consecrated virgin living in the Diocese of Peoria. The others are Julie Enzenberger of Peoria, Jeri Gerding of Peru, Mary Kay Pangrcic of LaSalle, and Minette Sternke of Champaign.

 EDITOR’S NOTE: Taryn Watkins was profiled in the Nov. 24 edition of The Catholic Post.

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