Rebeca Sastre, a parishioner of St. Isidore Parish in Grand Rapids, was consecrated according to the Rite of the Consecration of Virgins Living in the World by Bishop David Walkowiak during a Mass on Sunday, April 16, at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. This vocation is for the whole Church, and all the faithful of the diocese were warmly invited to attend the Mass.
Watch the Mass Video (Facebook)
This ancient vocation, the vocation of the Roman martyrs Agnes and Lucy, among others, is a mystical espousal to Christ and a visible reminder that we are all called to live with Christ in heaven. The virgin is consecrated in a solemn rite by the bishop of the diocese, and she is an image of the Church’s single-hearted love for Christ. During the Rite, the virgin receives a wedding ring as the symbol of her vocation.
Rebeca was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and fell in love with the Lord as she grew up at her parish there, Christ the King, and in an ecumenical charismatic community, the Sword of the Spirit. Her studies at Grand Valley State University brought her to West Michigan where she has stayed since graduating in 2013. She quickly found a home at St. Isidore Parish where she remains a parishioner today. She works as a full-time missionary with the Bethany Association, ministering to young women across North America. Rebeca’s passion is to inspire young women to trust Jesus with their whole lives – to be freed by Him to be His daughters in the world today.
Read more from Rebeca in her own words about her discernment of this vocation and how it is lived out:
• How did you discern your vocation? I formally discerned my vocation with the help of the Diocese of Grand Rapids and the Bethany Association. Spiritual direction was very helpful to me, especially to recognize God’s voice versus the voices of the world, my own flesh, and the devil. It is not good to be alone when discerning your vocation! But, alongside formal discernment and long before it began, the Lord was calling me. He called to me first when I was very young, and then again and again as I grew up. He showed me who he is, spoke of his love for me, invited me to follow him, invited me to make him my best friend, then to be “espoused to his heart,” and many more lovely, smaller invitations. These weren’t all about my vocation, but they were all invitations to come closer to him as a daughter and a disciple. By the time he actually called me to be his bride, my heart was won over and SO READY to say “yes” that it didn’t seem like a hard jump to make. I responded with a breathless and joyful “YES!”
In order to hear these invitations, I had to practice praying, especially being still and humble before God. I had to change my behavior as I learned about him, trying to live righteously and obey him. I was very unfaithful, but God was infinitely patient! My early discernment was really just my overall conversion – a long-term, sincere surrender to Jesus. And that conversion was the foundation for being able to discern my vocation to be a Consecrated Virgin Living in the World.
• How long have you been in formation/preparing for this vocation? I started officially pursuing living life for the Lord in the Summer of 2016. The Bethany Association helped me by giving me resources to pray with and accompanying me through the discernment process of whether God was truly inviting me and giving me grace to live single for him. I always knew that I wanted to express this vocation within the Catholic Church. When I learned about the Consecration for Virgins Living in the World, it seemed like a perfect fit. The Lord had spoken many words to me about being “espoused to Him,” “being His bride,” “being a gift to the Church/the Christian people.” I knew he was inviting me to something irrevocable and to something that would bless the Church in a public way. In 2020, I petitioned Bishop Walkowiak to receive the Rite and began the discernment process with the diocese. It has been a deeply good process, full of lessons for me and learning more about who my beloved is!
• What will daily living as a consecrated virgin look like for you? My life looks pretty normal, only empty of many things the world values (as are all of our lives as radical Christians). There is a simplicity – an “emptiness” – in my schedule so that I have more time for prayer and service and also more space in my mind and heart to focus on God and dwell on his word. This vocation is not so much about doing, but rather about being. It is a vocation of witness. I will be a Bride of Christ. I will live solely for him and his purposes. I will know I am living my vocation well when people who meet me say, “Woah, there must be someone who cares for her, sustains her, fills her with this joy we see – because it does not come from the normal avenues we expect (like material wealth, marriage, bearing children, prestige, etc.). I am so glad that just being who I am in this vocation is a witness in the world to God’s truth and worthiness and an encouragement for his people that all our treasure is in eternal life with him!
Our website offers additional resources about vocations to consecrated religious life.