Sister Virginia Joy professes perpetual vows

Sister Virginia Joy and Sister Naomi lie prostrate before the altar during the Litany of the Saints at the Mass of Perpetual Profession celebrated Aug. 6.

SUFFERN, N.Y.—Sister Virginia Joy Cotter, a native of Greenville, S.C., professed her perpetual vows with the Sisters of Life on Aug. 6 at the motherhouse chapel of the Sisters of Life in Suffern, N.Y.

Her parents, Timothy and Mary Cotter, witnessed the joyous occasion from the front pew of the chapel. After the profession of vows, they exchanged a hug with their smiling daughter and accompanied her up the aisle to present the gifts for Mass. Also in attendance were her brother Dave Cotter, his wife Bethany, and their two children; and her sister, Ellen Cotter. The family belongs to Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville. Sister Virginia Joy was baptized at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Simpsonville.

Sister Virginia Joy smiles after professing her perpetual vows with the Sisters of Life.

The Mass of Perpetual Profession was celebrated by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

The Sisters of Life are a religious congregation of women who take a special fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.

Sister Virginia Joy professed her solemn vows along with Sister Naomi, of County Limerick, Ireland. The two women were welcomed by their fellow sisters with warm hugs and joyous smiles.

“Sister Virginia Joy is such a gift to us all — the smiles and hugs couldn’t even begin to capture the love we feel for her in our hearts,” said Sister Elizabeth Ann.

Sister Virginia Joy, 39, graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2003. She is currently the director of the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of New York. 

As a sister, she has served in the New York City Visitation Mission, where she accompanied women whose pregnancies created a crisis in their lives, seeking to bring them the support they needed to choose life for themselves and their children. She assisted the Sisters of Life vocations director from August 2012 until 2015.

Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2009, she served as a residential counselor at St. Anne’s Maternity Home in Los Angeles and at Trinity Teen Solutions in Wyoming. She was also the director of college counseling at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville. 

The Mass was live-streamed and can be viewed at