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On October 17, 2014, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood agreed to the sale of their former Motherhouse in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, to the sovereign nation of the Jemez Pueblo. Rev. Mother Marietta, H.P.B., and the Pueblo’s governor, Joshua Madalena, were the signers of the agreement, which had a closing date of December 31, 2014.
The New Mexico monastery of Cor Jesu, located in a rural area in the mountains between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, was home to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood for sixty-seven years. It was in 1947 that Father Gerald Fitzgerald founded the Handmaids to support the priesthood by their hidden lives of prayer and sacrifice, and daily Eucharistic Adoration. Father Gerald knew that “in strengthening the priest you strengthen the whole Church.” The sisters visibly display this charism by the wearing of a wine-red habit, symbolic of the Precious Blood of Christ, and the white veil, symbolizing the white Host of the Eucharist.
With the sale, the sisters will have completed the move to their temporary home (though they are still working out some business and legal details for the transfer to Tennessee) on the grounds of Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in the diocese of Knoxville under the paternal care of Bishop Richard F. Stika. With the arrival of the five sisters from New Mexico and the presence of their newest member and first native Tennessean, Sr. Christiana, the sisters had a very joyous family reunion.
Bishop Stika said, “Their prayers and many sacrifices as a silent proclamation of the Gospel are the very ‘soul and leaven’ of the Church’s evangelization efforts and works of mercy. Indeed, cloistered religious are truly indispensable co-workers in the mystery of redemption.”
What are the signs that it might be time for a contemplative community to pick up roots and move to another location? How about having a witches coven, nudist colony and New Age B&B as neighbors? Or maybe a gunshot through the chapel window on Holy Saturday? A mountain lion gazing in through the window? A storm that has demolished your greenhouse? All this happened to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
Last month, the Sisters were pleased to announce their move to a new home in the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee. It is rather ironic that they have moved from traditionally Catholic land to the Protestant Bible Belt which is seeing an increasing number of Catholics. How wonderful that the people of east Tennessee will be able to see sisters in habits. This contemplative monastery is a first for the diocese. There are 18 professed sisters with several in formation.
I am happy to say that the IRL played a part in this happy marriage between the diocese and the sisters. It was at an IRL event that Mother Marietta met Bishop Richard Stika, the Bishop of Knoxville. Cardinal Raymond Burke and our Executive Director, Mike Wick, spread the word among the bishops that the sisters were contemplating a new home. At one point, they were communicating with 9 dioceses. After much discernment and prayer, the sisters were delighted to hear from Bishop Sticka who said that the diocese had been given a great gift and he was able to offer the sisters a home.
The Handmaids of the Precious Blood were founded in 1947 by Father Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald, sP, who opened his door one day to a homeless person only to discover that the man was a priest who had left the Church because of personal problems. This inspired him to found a religious order whose mission is to pray for the sanctification of all priests. Mother Marietta said, “These Sisters don’t just pray for priests, they live for them.” Their beautiful habits reflect their life of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The wine red color symbolizes the Precious Blood and the white veil symbolizes the Eucharist.
Bishop Sticka said, “Their prayers and many sacrifices as a silent proclamation of the Gospel are the very “soul and leaven” of the Church’s evangelization efforts and works of mercy. Indeed, cloistered religious are truly indispensable co-workers in the mystery of redemption.”
See the complete story in the East Tennessee Catholic.
The bishops have asked that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to the theme of a “Fortnight for Freedom.”
This period will be a special time of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action that will emphasize the double heritage of Christian and American liberty.
“As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad,” they declared.
In support of this effort, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood (www.nunsforpriests.org) in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, have asked that anyone interested in supporting this effort send their petitions for the nation and for our leaders to Cor Jesu Monastery, PO Box 90, Jemez Springs, NM, 87025. The petitions will be placed under the high altar throughout the nun’s Corpus Christi novena (May 30th – June 7th), included in their Mass intentions and will remain at the altar until July 4th.
The Handmaids of the Precious Blood, an IRL Affiliate Community, are cloistered nuns offering their lives for the sanctification of priests in Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.