Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate
CALLED BY NAME — The first wave of Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate here at St. Anthony’s features, from left to right, Sr. Maria Pacifica, Sr. Maria Eucharistica, Sr. Maria Candida, Mother Maria Francis Catherine, and Sr. Maria Lydwine. They are pictured underneath the statue of Our Lady in the convent chapel and seek to remain always under Our Lady’s mantle.
We are the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, a religious community of sisters faithful to the Holy Father, the Pope. We are a pontifical institute who are clothed with the angelic garment of the Immaculate Virgin and clad with sandals of seraphic poverty, prayer, penance and perfect joy. Living throughout the world, in Marian contemplation and apostolate, in the convent and in parishes, in hermitages and in radio and television studios, on mission in country places and in the most populous cities, we strive to diffuse “the perfume of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15), and radiate the holiness of Mary Immaculate, recalling to all on earth the divine reality of the Kingdom of God.
Our love for the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary presses us forward to share that same burning love with others in response to the call given by Jesus Crucified to our Holy Father St. Francis, “Francis, rebuild My Church.” The Immaculate is the model for each member of the mystical Body of Christ of what the Church should be in her fullness. For this reason, St. Francis lovingly called the Blessed Virgin Mary the Virgin-made Church. This we are striving to attain by becoming, according to St. Maximilian Kolbe, “property, possession and instruments in the hands of the Immaculate One.”
In 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council, two priests, Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli and Fr. Gabriel Maria Pelletieri were inspired by the Holy Spirit to put into practice the admirable decree of the Second Vatican Council Perfectae Caritatis, which called for the renewal of religious life in its original purity and new fecundity; to be activated by a “return to the source,” relived in the changed “conditions of the times” to realize a more exact observance of the Rule and Constitutions of the Franciscan Order.
Our two founding fathers, by the grace of the Immaculate have striven to realize St. Maximilian’s ideal of Franciscan life in the “light of the Immaculate.” To live St. Francis’ spirit as he lived it; to implement an apostolate meeting our needs, animating them by unlimited consecration to the Immaculate. This is how St. Maximilian realized the ideal of St. Francis. In the early part of 1970 after years of preparation Father Stefano put into writing the tract A Marian Plan of Franciscan Life. He wrote it with eyes fixed on the Immaculate, St. Francis, St. Maximilian and the Supreme Pontiff, the highest and surest guide for any renewal in the Church. The distinctive character of our community is the religious profession of the Marian Vow of Total Consecration to the Immaculate. This vow distinguishes us from all other religious institutes. By it we seal our desire and obligation to make Mary Immaculate known, loved and served for the extension of the Kingdom of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a consequence we go wherever religious obedience sends us even unto the loving sacrifice of our lives. Because of this vow, we use the modern means of apostolate in imitation of St. Maximilian Kolbe: printing press, television and radio stations and all licit means.
Marian life of prayer
Our Marian Convents are founded on a life of ardent prayer and penance in common and in private: Daily Sacrifice of the Mass; Eucharistic adoration; Period of meditation; Morning and evening prayer; Monthly and annual retreat; Silence and recollection; Daily recitation of the Holy Rosary. We are also bound to dedicate hours of study to deepening our understanding of the mysteries of the Immaculate Conception, particularly her role as Coredeemer with Christ and her universal mediation. The perfume of Marian prayer is the fragrant incense that rises continually before the throne of God particularly the prayer of the Holy Rosary, Litany of Loreto, novena prayers of preparation for Marian feasts as well as countless spiritual communions and acts of love.
Life of Poverty
We are called to imitate the poverty of spirit of our Holy Mother St. Clare of Assisi, who was careful to conform herself to the most perfect poverty of her poor and crucified Lord. We desire no other treasure in this world but the One reserved in the Kingdom of God. That is why our voluntary poverty includes a life without anything of our own, neither in private nor in common. Only in achieving that total detachment can we make use of all licit means, like the latest technology in computer and mass media apostolate, for the spread of the Kingdom of God. Such poverty is animated by unlimited confidence in Divine Providence and in the maternal assistance of Our Lady. Like St. Maximilian we say, “nothing for us, all for the Immaculate!”
Life of penance
Penance is a response of love to the Immaculate who at Lourdes and Fatima called for prayer and sacrifice for the conversion of sinners. In imitation of our Seraphic Father St. Francis and St. Maximilian’s love for God and His Immaculate Mother we live a life of penance in the common life, in duty carried out to perfection, in fasting, in using the discipline, in wearing the holy habit always and in the renunciation of all worldly amusements or vacation.
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate
106 Bullard Street
New Bedford, MA 02746