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placeholder March 7, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA

Elizabeth Lam in prostration during the Rite of Consecration.
josé luis aguirre photo
A rare rite

Elizabeth Lam approached the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Light on Feb. 20, following a path taken in modern times by precious few women.

Bishop Cordileone receives Lam's vow.
josé luis aguirre photo

“In today’s Mass we have the rare privilege of witnessing a rite not many Catholics have the opportunity to see: the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity in the World,” Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said at the beginning of his homily. “This form of consecrated life is a revival in our time of an ancient order in the Church, going back, really, to the very beginning. The names of the early Christian virgins, many of them also martyrs, are familiar to us, as many have been entered into the ancient Roman Canon: Agnes, Agatha, Lucy, Cecilia, to name a few.

“This consecration is received through the hand of the diocesan bishop, and it establishes a particular important link to the local church — the consecrated virgin, like the diocesan priest, is given to the local church, she gives herself in prayer and sacrifice.”

Lam, dressed in a white gown made for her by her mother, was consecrated as a virgin living in the world. She was flanked by her mother and one of her sisters as she took her vow.

During the rite, at which the bishop presided, she received a gold ring as a symbol of her vow.

As a consecrated virgin living in the world, she will continue to be employed and is responsible for her own expenses, health care and, later, retirement.

Her pastor was among the priests at the Mass. “It’s always a grace to see her,” said her pastor, Father Jeffrey Keyes of St. Edward Parish in Newark, where Lam attends Mass daily.

Lam’s primary responsibility is to pray. “For married people. For priests. For the bishop. For the people of the Diocese of Oakland,” the soft-spoken woman said after the Mass, as well-wishers surrounded her.

— Michele Jurich, staff writer

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