WHO ARE WE?
We are The Franciscan Handmaids of the Immaculate founded by Fr. Stefano Manelli, FI. We are totally dedicated to Our Lady, and are sealed by the Marian Vow of total consecration to the Immaculate, after the recent example of St. Maximilian Kolbe. This vow distinguishes us from all other religious institutes. We live a penitential life in community; and make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
OUR LIFE IN PRAYER
Our day starts with Morning Prayers, Divine Office, Meditation, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Mass. During the day the Sisters pray in community the Angelus, Office, Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet and other community prayers. Coming together for meals, we are spiritually renewed with readings from a variety of pious works. We have one retreat Sunday a month, make a variety of novenas during the year, pray the Stations of the Cross, Franciscan crown, adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, make holy hours, and have choir practice as well as other spiritual exercises throughout the month. St. Maximilian Kolbe said: "Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculate who is Queen even of God's heart."
We live in a community, wear a traditional habit, and are in total conformity with the church magisterium. Under the guidance of the FI Priests, we share the same charism and spirituality as the FI missionary Friars and Sisters. After Holy Mass in the morning, the Sisters work in a variety of apostolic labors, which may include working in the parish where the convent is located. Our cottage industry includes the media, and making a variety of arts and crafts. The Sisters assist the local F.I. Friars in their radio station; proofreading articles to be printed in books and magazines that are published by the Friars (Academy of the Immaculate); and assisting the sales and shipments of the books. We teach, visit the sick in the hospital and their homes and assist in a program to foster Eucharistic Adoration. Living a life of love and joy in the Immaculate, we seek to make Our Lady known and loved and to bring all to Christ through the Immaculate. After coming together for evening prayer, we enjoy each other's company at recreation. Closing the day with night prayers, we retire after singing a hymn to Our Lady enclosing ourselves under her mantle with the knowledge that we have brought joy and solace to mission lands through our prayer and support of Our Lady's missionaries.
We aid the Immaculate in the mission lands by assisting the Franciscans of the Immaculate missions through prayer and financial support. Where the "Mother" is, there is her "Son". Our Lady brings her fragrance of holiness and introduces her purity in places most hidden. She carries in Her arms the Messiah, who Is the Way, the Truth and the Life. She brings joy and solace to the mission lands and asks for help to teach about Her Son through prayer and support of her missionaries. Therefore, we join hands with Our Lady that she may lead them in this endeavor, in any way she finds. Even though we do not go to mission lands, we evangelize locally through the sale of our hand-made religious goods at a variety of mission events to support the FI missions.
The formation program consists of aspirancy, postulancy, novitiate, and profession. We accept candidates beginning with the age of 18, as well as delayed vocations.
"I want to bring you all to heaven"!
The family of Franciscans of the Immaculate is called to move ahead and journey down the highways of the world, step by step, place after place, till the end of time, in order to spur men onward and escort all into paradise "through the Immaculate". Since Jesus came to us "through the Immaculate", we too, must go to Him, "through the Immaculate". The Handmaids accomplish this by faithfully living their Franciscan vocation and giving growth to its "original charisms inasmuch as they are God's gifts to the church," as the church's Magisterium teaches (Essential Elements of Church Teaching on the Religious Life, n.11). As our Holy Father St. Francis said, "I want to bring you all to heaven"! This is the apostolic zeal, the supernatural charity, to be possessed by every Franciscan of the Immaculate - to carry and give Jesus to everyone "by means of the Immaculate, "to help, to urge, to spur everyone into heaven "through the Immaculate".
With the grace of the Immaculate Mediatrix, with the grace of the Marian Vow, one can make continual progress on the way of love and sacrifice, in order to "renounce all things" (Lk. 14:33) and to "lose oneself" (Mt 10:39) for the Lord, for the Immaculate, and for so many brothers and sisters who need to be saved in every part of the earth.