A 38-year-old joined an elite group of 'consecrated virgins' when she 'got married' to the son of God in downtown Fort Wayne during the weekend.
Meet the 38-yr-old virgin that 'married Jesus' in wedding ceremony
Hayes, who is a theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, said she decided to become an consecrated virgin after years of prayer and soul-searching.
The consecrated virgins are similar to nuns in that they live chaste lives but they do not live in convents and they are not obliged to take on any particular work for the Catholic Church.
However, most volunteer for their local diocese or Church associations.
Hayes, who is a theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, said she decided to become a consecrated virgin after years of prayer and soul-searching.
She says she will continue to live her normal life at home - only now she will not be able to get married to anyone else or to have sex for the rest of her life.
'My students asked if they should call me Mrs. Hayes when I come back to school next week, and no, I’m still Ms,' she said.'But I am married to Jesus.'
As a consecrated virgin, Hayes may not have 'knowingly and deliberately' engaged in sexual relations in the past.
'I think that in some sense, we’re all called to be married. It’s just a matter of discerning how. So, my marriage is to Christ and someone else’s marriage is to their spouse.'
The ceremony was conducted by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
He said: 'It seems most appropriate that Jessica gives herself totally to Jesus, is consecrated to a life of virginity.'
Hundreds of people attended the service, most of whom were strangers to the bride.
She said most turned up because they were 'interested', and she was pleased with the turnout.
'Now that I’ve made a public commitment, that’s really an encouragement to me to live up to that because people know that this is who I am and my life needs to be lived in conformity with that,' she explained.
'So, it’s one more step in that direction that others expect this way of life from me and I need to live consistently in my words and actions that love for Jesus.
'I’m so happy to have had so many witnesses (at the wedding) because there may be others that the Lord is calling in this way that have now heard of this life and can consider it in their prayer.'
During the service of consecration, the virgins must resolve to 'persevere to the end of their days in the holy state of virginity and in the service of God and his Church'.
They must also accept 'solemn consecration as a bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.'
See Pulse gallery for photos from the wedding ceremony.
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