With the blessings of His Holiness Pope Shenouda the III, and under the auspices and guidance of His Grace Bishop Serapion Bishop of Los Angeles, there came from Egypt two consecrated sisters on July 28th, 2003 to begin Saint Verena Sisterhood.
The Service of the Sisterhood
- Represent to the girls the life of consecration, prayer and service.
- Provide retreats for girls in Saint Verena sisterhood, or any other retreat houses.
- Encourage and guide the girls who would like to consecrate their lives to God.
- Serve the girls in conventions, and the youth meetings in the diocese.
- Serve in publishing and any other services.
- Serving the girls in spiritual retreats.
Why Santa Verena?
She was a pious virgin, who left her own country to serve with the Theban region (Luxor) in Switzerland, and Saint Mary appeared to her to strengthen her. After the martyrdom of Saint Maurice and his legion, she spent the rest of her life in praying and serving the poor and sick until she departed on the 4th of the Coptic month Toot, 14th September, her relics returned recently to Egypt after 1700 years on September 26, 1986. On February 22, 1994 the first church having her name was established and consecrated.
The Biblical Testimony
The honor that Jesus Christ Himself lived a consecrated life on earth is sufficient for the devoted person. Jesus Christ led a devoted life with its four principle vows; virginity, full service, poverty, and obedience. He also worked with Joseph the carpenter. Saint Mary, the ever virgin, lived also as a devoted servant and thus she crowned the consecration of girls.
In the Old Testament
- Devoted women “He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (Ex38:8)
- Miriam the sister of Moses (Exodus 15)
- Deborah the judger (Judges 4).
In the New Testament
- Saint Mary was the major example of devotion, for she accompanied Jesus Christ in preaching, in His struggle and even to the cross and after His resurrection, and other women also accompanied her. (Acts1:14)
- Jesus Christ allowed many women to follow Him everywhere as a testimony for the importance of the service of women in the church. (Lk8:1-3)
- Mary, the sister of Lazarus “She has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk10:42)
- Mary Magdalene, who followed Jesus everywhere and she was the first one to witness the resurrection. (Mk16:9)
- Phoebe, the sister who served the church in Cenchrea (Rom16:1), who did not serve her own church only, but also she was a preacher carrying the epistle of Saint Paul the apostle to the church of Rome, while he was in Corinth. She is considered the first consecrated deaconess in the church history.
The Four Vows
It is a pure love, a heavenly call, steadiness, giving all the power, the time, the capabilities, and the whole heart to the service of God without any hindrance. “There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world- how she may please her husband”. (1 Cor 7:34). As Saint Paul says “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2), for virginity is partaking with the saints, for the essence of virginity is to live a holy life.
The meaning of devotion is consecration and the meaning of holiness is devotion, which means that the devoted person belongs to God, and has no other desire but to love God and His people. As saint Paul says “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Cor.11:29), Saint Cyprian says “Virginity is preparation for eternal life”.
“If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.” (Matt 19:21). Abba Agathon also says “If you are seeking the heavenly king leave the worldly wealth.” and Saint Paul taught us to follow his steps “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Phil4:11).
Jesus Christ is the main example for us, Following His steps we learn to be obedient to our heavenly father, and He commands us to be obedient to our spiritual fathers to have our salvation. “He who hears you hears Me.” (Lk 10:16). Saint Parthonophious says “Unless the disciple leaves all his desires and be obedient and humble he won’t reach the city of peace”. Saint Basil says “Teach your body to obey your soul and teach your soul to obey God”.
“You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities and for those who were with me.” (Acts 20:34). Every man has his work, and the work of the consecrated is seeking his salvation and salvation of the others, “That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Col 1:28) preaching “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8), as there is no other desire in the heart but to love God and His people.
The principals of devotion are clear in the communal life of the consecrated, as they live in a private place, having their rules, which are the monastic rules, praying, reading, liturgies, hymns, serving, and working, in a fellowship charity.
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:14),
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3), giving oneself for the other, “He who loves his life will lose it” (Jn. 12:25).
Contact the Sisterhood
4326 W. Regent Dr. Santa Ana, CA 92704