In Ukraine, widows were consecrated first time in modern Catholic Church History

27 March, 14:48
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For the first time in modern history, Catholic Church widows in Ukraine have taken vows. On March 25, 2024, at the Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Veronica (Vira) Andrushchyshyna and Liudmyla Hrytsa (parish of St. Wojciech, Gvardiiske village), Maria Koval and Henefa Habai (parish of St. Anthony, Vin’kivtsi town) pledged their lives as widows consecrated to God (ordo viduarum).

This was reported by CREDO.

This ceremony marks a first in modern history for the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, although the institution of consecrated widows dates back to apostolic times. In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes: "Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work" (1 Timothy 5:9-10).

The value of a life dedicated to serving God by widows has been emphasized by Saint Augustine and Saint Ambrose. Following the Second Vatican Council, the practice of blessing widows and widowers into a consecrated state began to revive in the Church, with significant development occurring in Poland.

These women learned about the possibility of serving God and the Church during retreats for widows and widowers organized by the Diocesan Family Pastoral Ministry in 2021. Already living in purity and having deep relationships with God, they realized that it was Jesus Himself inviting them to dedicate their lives solely to Him, seeking no relationships with other men but fully responding to His love, living by the evangelical counsels, serving the Church through prayer, suffering, and helping those in need.

Their children and grandchildren, present at the Holy Mass, thanked them for their witness of faith and the sacrificial nature of their lives. During the ritual of blessing, the bishop presented them with special symbols of their state: a cross, so they can always gaze upon Christ, who, as stated in the ritual, "will heal your wounds and give eagle wings to your life, until the moment when He answers your call: 'Arise! Here I am coming!'"; and the Liturgy of the Hours book, as an encouragement to pray for the world so that the glory of the Lord may always resound in their hearts.

Consecrated widows will live in their homes, serving their families and also fostering the spiritual development of their children and grandchildren.

Through their word and, above all, their lives, by taking vows of chastity and obedience before the bishop, they seek to testify to Jesus to their acquaintances and families.

Both women and men can become consecrated widows and widowers if they are 60 years old, have been sacramentally married to one spouse (who has already passed away), and have raised children. To do this, they should approach their local bishop for assistance in discerning this vocation to deeper and more personal relationships with Christ in lifelong purity, obedience, and solitude through prayer, acts of mercy, and service to the Church.

For the first time in modern history, Catholic widows in Ukraine have taken vows.

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