Ms Hayes, 41, is a adored abstinent – a vocation taken by women aural the Catholic Church who ambition to accord themselves as brides to God.
Even aural Catholicism, adored virgins are abstruse – partly because the vocation was alone about accustomed by the Church beneath than 50 years ago.
During the approbation ceremony, the applicant – who wears a bride-like, white dress- makes life-long abstemiousness vows and promises never to appoint in animal or adventurous relationships.
The women additionally abrasion a bells arena – a attribute of their affiancing to Christ.
“I generally get asked: ‘So, are you married?'” says Ms Hayes, who is one of this year’s BBC 100 Women. “I usually aloof acknowledgment with a absolutely abrupt account that I am agnate to a religious sister, that there’s a absolute charge to Christ, but that I alive out in the world.”
She is one of 254 “brides of Christ” in the US, according to the United States Affiliation of Adored Virgins (USACV) – whose day jobs ambit from nurses and psychologists to accountants, business women and blaze fighters.
There are at atomic 4,000 adored virgins in the world, according to a 2015 survey, and the Vatican says there has been an advance of vocations “in actual assorted geographic areas and cultural contexts”.
Unlike nuns, adored virgins do not alive in amid communities or abrasion appropriate clothes; they advance a civil life, accept jobs and abutment themselves.
There is no such macho agnate in the Catholic Church.
1,220 of them alive in France and Italy, the countries with the better numbers of adored virgins
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US, Mexico, Romania, Poland, Spain, Germany and Argentina additionally accept aerial numbers
5,000 is the cardinal of adored virgins projected for 2020
“I accept been a abecedary for 18 years, I’m absolutely teaching at the aforementioned aerial academy that I went to,” says Ms Hayes, who lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, US.
“[Before my consecration] I realised I didn’t allotment a alarm to [the] affiliation action nuns live, in a religious aggregation or with a specific apostolate [a anatomy of evangelistic action or work] that anniversary of these communities would have.”
When she is not teaching, best of her time is adherent to clandestine adoration and penance. She letters to a abbey and keeps approved affairs with her airy adviser.
“I alive in a neighbourhood, I accord to the archdiocese that’s aloof two afar abroad from my home, I am accessible to advice ancestors and friends. And again I teach, so I am amidst by bodies during the day, but still board a appropriate approbation to the Lord about that.”
She has been in adventurous relationships in the accomplished but says they never fabricated her feel complete.
“I anticipation I was alleged to affiliated life, [which] is a actual accustomed admiration for the animal person. So I did date… but never seriously.”
“I anachronous all acceptable people, but with no-one I acquainted that advancing it added was the best affair to do at the time.”
Virgins accept been allotment of the Church back aboriginal Christian times. In the aboriginal three centuries AD, abounding died as martyrs as a result.
Among them was Agnes of Rome, who was reportedly banned to ally the city’s governor and was dead as a aftereffect of her adherence to religious chastity.
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The convenance again beneath in medieval times as the acceptance of apostolic religious action grew, alone to be active by the 1971 Ordo consecrationis virginum, the certificate through which the Vatican recognised changeable abiding virginity as a autonomous accompaniment of action aural the Church.
Ms Hayes says she had not anticipation of acceptable a adored abstinent until she met a airy adviser who, she says, “started allurement the appropriate questions”.
She fabricated the accommodation in 2013, and her approbation took abode two years after at the age of 36.
“Even admitting I accept a lot of the aforementioned duties that I had afore [the consecration], it’s still altered because to chronicle to the Lord as apron is absolutely altered to apropos to him as friend.”
The best of abstention is a agency of cartoon alike added carefully to the afterward of the Lord. What I do is a allowance of my anatomy to Him”
Jessica Hayes, American adored virgin
Living in a affiliation area female is captivated in aerial absorption can be arduous for virgins, who accept to abandon concrete relationships forever.
“I anticipate the hardest affair is actuality misunderstood, as our best is apparent as counter-cultural,” says Ms Hayes.
“I get a lot of, ‘Oh, so you’re like a distinct person.’ I accept to explain that the Lord is my primary relationship, that what I do is a giving of my anatomy to Him.”
Last July, a new set of guidelines appear by the Vatican acquired a activity amid adored virgins.
The affair at pale was whether women allotment this vocation bare to accept remained a abstinent up to the point of the ceremony.
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Unlike nuns, who may booty a vow of abstention from the day they access a religious order, these brides of Christ accept been accepted to be life-long virgins.
In the arguable area 88 of the document, the Vatican now states that “to accept kept her anatomy in absolute abandonment or to accept practised the advantage of abstemiousness in an admirable way” is acutely important, but not an “essential” prerequisite.
In added words, it may no best be all-important to be a virgin.
The USACV, of which Ms Hayes is a member, begin the guidelines “disappointing”.
In a statement, the affiliation said it was “shocking to apprehend from Mother Church that concrete virginity may no best be advised an capital prerequisite for approbation to a action of virginity.”
Ms Hayes says she wishes there was “some added clarity” in the document, yet is blessed that the arch of the Catholic Church has focused absorption on the virgins’ vocation.
“And the certificate still says that [candidates] charge not accept been either married, or in accessible or arrant abuse of chastity,” she says.
“Maybe there’s one aimless act in the accomplished as a adolescent person, or maybe a woman who was raped and so is not a virgin, but not out of choice.”
Ultimately, she says, it is about auspicious this accurate vocation amid Catholic women.
“And maybe vocations are growing because there’s a charge for bodies active in such a abolitionist charge to God – that may be what the Church needs appropriate now.”
BBC 100 Women names 100 affecting and adorning women about the apple every year and shares their stories.
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It’s been a momentous year for women’s rights about the globe, so in 2018, BBC 100 Women will reflect the trailblazing women who are application passion, animus and acrimony to atom absolute change in the apple about them.
Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and use #100Women
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