Catherine Richie engages her students during her comparative religion class at St. Vincent’s Academy, Savannah. Richie will be blessed as a Consecrated Virigin in a public ceremony March 24 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah.

SVA teacher to dedicate her life through the Rite of Consecration

Originally Appeared in : 9805-3/1/18

A rare and ancient tradition will take place at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist March 24. In a public ceremony, Catherine Richie, a religion teacher at St. Vincent’s Academy (SVA) in Savannah, will be  consecrated as a virgin living in the world. 


In church history, prior to the establishment of religious monasteries and convents in the 4th century, women would consecrate their lives – serving God in totality with the Blessed Virgin Mary as their model. 


The tradition of consecrated virgins, living in the public sphere and supporting themselves, reopened in 1971.


Richie’s own journey towards consecration began early in her life.


She grew up on the lower Michigan peninsula in the small city of Petoskey. “We lived way out in the country,” she said. “I remember walking around being aware of God.”


After meeting the sisters when she entered St. Francis Xavier School, Richie said, “I knew from the first grade I wanted to do something with my life for God.”


That desire carried Richie well into adulthood where she continued her discernment by visiting various religious orders while she worked full time. 


Richie’s consecration will occur on the morning following St. Vincent’s prom and the day of Benedictine Military School’s prom. Still, Richie says many of the students plan to attend the ceremony and seem excited about her consecration.


As a part of her own high school experience, Richie explained that she did attend prom, was open to relationships and dated several times but she found herself dating less in college because of her awareness of the call.


She earned her degree in education—a master’s in theology as well—and spent several years teaching St.  Catherine of Genoa School in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City and following its closing she taught at the Dwight International private school in Manhattan. 


Friends from her days at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, moved to Savannah during her time in New York. Richie came for visits on holidays and vacations. She ultimately moved to Savannah because she liked the small town appeal and the warm weather.


She received a position at Blessed Sacrament School and then transferred to SVA three years ago. The position fits well with her life of prayer and service.


She began a two-year period of preparation after meeting with Sister Margaret Downing, rsm, Delegate For Consecrated Life.


Rising at 4:30 a.m., she gets ready for the day. Richie studies the bible from 5:30 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. and then readies and leaves for morning Mass at the cathedral. Arriving at 7:00 a.m. for 7:30 am Mass she prays the Liturgy of the Hours – her morning prayers. Then it’s off to the classroom. 


Morning and evening prayer have been a part of her life for some time. The rule of a prayer life will not greatly alter her lifestyle – but rather strengthen the discipline.


During the Rite of Consecration Richie will say “Father, receive my resolution to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity which, with God’s help, I here profess before you and God’s holy people.”


The bishop will consecrate Richie, who is already living the lifestyle of a consecrated virgin. “And that is certainly true for Catherine,” said Sister Downing.


A ring will be placed on the third finger of her left hand, marking her a mystical bride of Christ. The ring will be a simple outward sign of her consecrated state of being – as will her public life.


The public is invited to attend The Rite of Consecration at 11:30 a.m. March 24 in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Savannah.

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