Living for Jesus in the World: Taking a Perpetual Virginity Vow
Unlike a sister or nun, Kaitlin Davis doesn’t belong to an order or wear a habit; she lives and works in the world, and she answers to her bishop — all because Jesus drew her to him in adoration.
In Lafayette, Louisiana, on the morning of Saturday, June 24, a “Pride” parade was in full swing outside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. In contrast, inside the cathedral, something holy and extraordinary was happening: Kaitlin Simone Davis, 29, took the last step in her 10-year journey to become a consecrated virgin in the “Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity” celebrated by Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel.
In a culture that fails to understand the sacredness of human sexuality, Davis has vowed perpetual virginity, sacrificing the goodness of marriage and family to commit herself to Christ and his Church. Unlike a sister or nun, Davis doesn’t belong to an order or wear a habit; she lives and works in the world, and she answers to her bishop. Except for the ring placed on her hand at the consecration ceremony, her sacrifice largely remains hidden from the world.
Like a religious, the Church asks her to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), morning and evening. She is also encouraged to attend daily Mass, do some form of penance, pursue an apostolate, and cultivate a prayer life with the focus of praying for the needs of the bishop and clergy in her diocese.
According to the Association of Consecrated Virgins (USACV), which has 290 members, “The Consecration of a Virgin is one of the oldest sacramentals in the Church, and one of the fruits of Vatican II was the restoration of this profound blessing on virgins living in the world.”
Davis is among the estimated 5,000 consecrated virgins living worldwide. However, these numbers aren’t certain since an official registry of consecrated virgins in the United States or worldwide does not exist. Judith Stegman, president of the USACV, sees a growing trend of women seeking virginal consecration from their bishops.
Stegman told the Register, “It seems that more women are recognizing virginity as a gift from God and seeking to respond to this gift in their love for Jesus Christ. As bishops, too, become familiar with this virginal vocation, they are open to encouraging it and developing ways in the diocese to foster discernment and formation for those who seek consecration.”
From Culturally Catholic to Daily Adoration
Growing up, Davis believed in God and had a good moral compass instilled by her parents. However, her family did not regularly attend Mass. Living in Cajun country, they were more culturally Catholic than faithful Catholics.
“I was brought up Catholic, but didn’t necessarily always take it to heart and didn’t feel convicted about it,” Davis told the Register.
The turning point for her came in 2013, near the end of her first year at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. Davis had already begun regularly attending Mass and studying Catholicism on her own but joining the Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center — aka the “Ragin’ Cajun Catholics” — helped her to fall in love with her faith.
“Being immersed in that community helped me to take responsibility for my faith, become more convicted about Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist,” she explained.
A key part of her reversion included daily adoration. During one of her Holy Hours, she felt a tug towards becoming a perpetual virgin.
“I wasn’t praying about vocations or anything,” she recalled. “I was in adoration, and as soon as the priest reposed the Eucharist — put him back in the tabernacle — I missed the Lord’s presence."
That longing for Jesus confirmed for the 19-year-old that she might have a calling.
“I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I really missed the Presence of Jesus. I feel like I could belong to him completely.’ And almost in the same breath, the idea of consecrated virginity came to mind,” she remembered.
Davis, who works as the coordinator of formation and evangelization outreach at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Breaux Bridge and is studying to earn her Master of Theology through the Augustine Institute, says she thought about becoming a nun, but she felt “so much peace and conviction” about living for Jesus in the world as a perpetual virgin.
Father Bryce Sibley, the pastor and chaplain from 2010 to 2021 at Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center, played an instrumental role in Davis’ formation and discernment as her spiritual director from 2012 to 2021. She approached him first about her desire to become a consecrated virgin.
“In 2013, she came into my office excited, as she often did, and said, ‘Father, I know what I’m going to be — God’s calling me to be a consecrated virgin!’” he recalled.
Father Sibley was familiar with this path, as he had walked with Emily Byers, another woman in the Lafayette Diocese who took a public vow of perpetual virginity in 2012.
“I knew what it was, and the challenge it posed; but the honest truth is, I never really doubted Kaitlin’s commitment,” he told the Register. “I had confidence in her discernment and perseverance. And of course, the Holy Spirit working.”
When Davis first told her parents, John and Faye, about her plans, they thought it was a phase. Then when their daughter didn’t waver in her conviction, they had some concerns.
“Like most parents, they wanted me to be happy and safe,” she said. “They weren’t like firmly against it, but they had some worries and fears.”
Davis added, “[Eventually], I remember my mom saying to me, ‘If this is what the Lord is asking you to do, then I trust you.’”
Since Davis began discerning so early in life, she had to wait much longer than most consecrated virgins to make her public vow. In the time leading up to applying for candidacy at age 27, she took two private vows of chastity. During informal discernment, her spiritual director, Father Sibley, currently the associate professor of moral theology and spiritual director at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, guided her. She also had the support of the two consecrated virgins serving the diocese: Byers and Alicia Pousson.
Then in 2020, she applied to Bishop Deshotel for acceptance as a candidate. In 2021, diocesan vocations director Father Kevin Bordelon (currently the adjutant judicial vicar, in the Tribunal Office in the Diocese of Lafayette) took over as Davis’ spiritual director during her candidacy — a formal period of formation, which included monthly classes on spiritual theology, etc.
In her second year of formal formation, Davis could petition Bishop Deshotel to consecrate her and set a date for the ceremony.
The Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24 found Davis wearing a lace wedding gown as she took the veil and ring, symbols of her consecration. Approximately 400 people packed the pews, including 75 former Ragin' Cajun Catholics.
Looking at all of the supporters, Father Sibley felt struck by how the world critiques the consecrated virgin as having a life of loneliness.
“Anybody who was there, if they paid attention, would’ve had their mind changed,” he pointed out. “She’s not thrown out of the world; she exists within a bond of connections and relationships that support her.”
For Davis, the ceremony was a beautiful culmination of the long-awaited dream of formalizing her vow to Christ and his Church.
“The reason living as a consecrated virgin appealed to me was I could belong only to Jesus in the Eucharist, but also because I liked the sense of mission and evangelization I’d have living in the world.”
The Association of Consecrated Virgins (ConsecratedVirgins.org) provides an information packet for eligible women desiring to discern the vocation of a consecrated virgin.