On March 29, 2016, the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary celebrated 100 years since their foundation with a Centennial Gala. In attendance, was Timothy Cardinal Dolan as well as many other dignitaries and well-known entertainers.
Some years prior, Father Lissner had received the blessing of the Holy Father to establish missions to serve the black population in the main cities of Georgia. Father Lissner and other SMAs, in six years, established six churches and seven parochial schools in Georgia.
But in 1915, the state legislature proposed a bill that would outlaw the teaching of black children by white teachers. Alarmed, Father Lissner, a member of the Society of African Missions, and Miss Elizabeth Williams, an African American woman, founded a new congregation, the Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary in Savannah, Georgia to minister to and evangelize the African American community. This title was chosen to inspire the members of the congregation to serve their neighbors and each other “with the same zeal and love with which Mary served her son Jesus Christ”.
Their life is centered on the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Unity and Transformation. They pray as Jesus taught His disciples for each other, for the grace of self-transformation, renewal of neighbor, the Church, our society, for victims of injustice and for peace and justice in our broken world (Luke: 11:1-13). They focus mainly on the promotion of Catholic social justice teaching, youth evangelization and healing missions, education of the young and feeding the needy.
We have a firm belief with experience that Prayer works miracles and ardent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has power to heal wounds.