Consecrated to the Lord in the World: Mary Del Olmo becomes diocese’s first Consecrated Virgin

North Texas Catholic
(Nov 28, 2023) Local

Mary Elizabeth Del Olmo walks into St. Patrick Cathedral on Nov. 22, 2023, the Memorial of St. Cecilia, for the Mass during which she was consecrated as a virgin by Bishop Michael Olson. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


FORT WORTH — On Nov. 22 at St. Patrick Cathedral, Mary Del Olmo received consecration to a life of virginity for women living in the world from Bishop Michael Olson. From physical therapy to serving on mission to working on her family’s ranch, Del Olmo lives for the Lord.

In his opening remarks, Bishop Olson mentioned that consecration to a life of virginity may seem new to us but is truly quite old: the order of virgins has existed in the Catholic Church since its earliest days.

Accompanied by two attendants, Del Olmo wore a white dress and veil, symbolizing that consecration confers a lasting identity upon her as a Bride of Christ.

Bishop Olson explained, “Mary has aspired to receive this consecration for the sake of a more fervent love for Jesus Christ and out of love for all of us, for brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world, especially for those who have not yet come to know Christ.”


Hearing the call

Mary Del Olmo kneels before the altar as Bishop Michael Olson celebrates the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Nov. 22, 2023, at St. Patrick Cathedral. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Growing up in Texas and Illinois, Del Olmo was very involved in music and youth ministry. “The joke growing up was if you want to find Mary, look at church or at the barn.” She went on her first mission trip at age 15 in Appalachia. On that trip, she prayed to God, telling Him that if she wasn’t married by age 30, she would consider religious life.

In 2000, Del Olmo attended World Youth Day. St. Pope John Paul II addressed the crowd, saying: “Young people of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium!”

During her studies at Boston University, Del Olmo was the “token Catholic” in the university’s Interfaith Community, but eventually “wandered off” from the faith.

In her late 20s, while living and working in New England, Del Olmo felt “unsettled.” She moved to Muenster, where her family is from, and began attending Mass regularly again.

Del Olmo attended retreats at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House. During an Ignatian silent retreat in 2012, she stood outside watching the sun rise over the lake. She was meditating on John 21:15-19, placing herself in the scene (an Ignatian spiritual practice). Del Olmo heard Jesus saying, “Mary, do you love me?” and then commanding “Feed my sheep.” This was when she began involving God in her vocational discernment process.

In 2017, during another retreat, “I asked God specifically what You made me for, and He said, ‘I made you for a great love,’” Del Olmo told the NTC. “That was the point at which I realized that marriage to one human man was not going to be big enough to contain the love that God had given me to share.”

Del Olmo considered religious orders, but she felt limited by their specific charisms.

“Every time I tried to imagine my life away from the ranch” and her large family, “it would just about break my heart.” She still feels a deep love for her family, and currently serves as President of the Bartush Land and Cattle Company and Red River Breaks.

Now 42, Del Olmo is also a physical therapist with a clinical doctorate working in home health. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas and is training to be a spiritual director through the Ignatian Spirituality Institute. She serves in music ministry and as a sacristan at Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster. She has been involved in mission work in Guatemala and Haiti.

All these are roles she can continue as a consecrated virgin. “With consecrated virginity, you remain rooted in your local church; in your parish — you don’t leave.” Del Olmo hopes to “open a pathway” for other women who feel called to complete dedication to Christ but don’t fit in with a religious community.

After the consecration, Del Olmo will live as she has been living. Externally, her life will look very similar: “prayer, work, penance, service, and of course some recreation,” she stated.


Symbolic liturgy

(L-R) Father John Coury, CSsR; Deacon Ralph Lira, Mary Del Olmo, Bishop Michael Olson, Deacon Gary Endres, and Father Joseph Keating are shown on Nov. 22, 2023. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

After the Gospel reading at the Mass of Consecration, Del Olmo lit a lamp and placed it on a small table in the sanctuary, like the wise virgin of Matthew 25, while a large choir from Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster sang. The Nov. 22 liturgy was celebrated on the Memorial of St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians.

After Bishop delivered the homily, Del Olmo lay prostrate on the altar while the congregation sang the Litany of the Saints, invoking the prayers of the Church Triumphant.

Then, Del Olmo knelt before the bishop and offered herself to God by saying the prayer of intention.

Bishop Olson prayed the prayer of consecration, and then Del Olmo received a veil, a ring, and the Book of the Liturgy of the Hours, a collection of psalms, prayers, and other texts prayed throughout the day by priests, deacons, and many religious orders.

The Consecration Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Del Olmo looked forward to receiving the Eucharist after her consecration, “when the veil is just very thin between now and what will be,” she said.

About 300 attended the Consecration Mass to support and pray for Del Olmo, the first consecrated virgin in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop Olson noted, “We are also here though, to be supported by her, through her prayer and through her witness of consecration as each of us discerns the way of the Lord in our lives that is always directed to Him, always marked by selflessness with an authentic love for all of His children.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: NTC staff contributed to this reporting.

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