On the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th, 2015, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood moved to their new property in New Market, Tennessee. The Sisters sold their property in Jemez Springs, New Mexico recently and have found a new home overlooking the Holston River.
The Handmaids of the Precious Blood found east Tennessee to be “stunningly beautiful” as they looked for property after the sale of their New Mexico monastery. They embarked on an adventure to find their new home and even explored on a borrowed ATV! After much prayer and with the blessing of Bishop Stika, the Sisters signed the papers to make the move to the future site of Cor Jesu Monastery official.
The Sisters are extremely grateful for all who aided them in their move. Despite the long day of moving, they made sure to first set up the Oratory where they will have their Divine Office together and their Holy Hours of Eucharistic Adoration. They said “it was only right to expose Our Lord in the Monstrance, sing ‘O Salutaris Hostia’ and kneel before the Master of our new house in deep thanksgiving.”
Their beautiful new property in New Market is a 55 acre property overlooking the Holston River with the Smokey Mountains to the south and the Clinch Mountains to the north. You can view the property thanks to the work of Scott Maentz, their IT expert, who provided a bird’s eye view by filming it with his drone. Please keep the Sisters in your prayers as they transition to their new home.
After failing to pass examinations to enter the seminary, confronting conscription into military service and being besieged by attacks from the Devil, one man exhibited great perseverance in pursuit of his vocation to the priesthood. This humble man, St. John Vianney, through prayer and dedication to the will of God, is now celebrated as a great saint and model for all priests.
St. John Vianney faced many obstacles throughout his life including school where his difficulties in the classroom became apparent when he failed to pass the seminary entrance examination. After a second successful attempt, he encountered another impediment when he was drafted into Napoleon’s army. Throughout his life he also faced adversity when experiencing attacks from the Devil. He persevered through his tribulations and was ordained a priest in 1815.
St. John Vianney is known as the patron of priests due to the exceptional pastoral care he exhibited following his ordination. He was appointed parish priest in Ars where he quickly became known for his holiness. He worked to improve catechesis, spent between 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional and cultivated a rich interior life of prayer and mortification which aided him in his ministry.
Rather than allowing any obstacles to consume him, the humble saint utilized these times as opportunities to grow in holiness. Let us continue to pray for all priests throughout the world as they respond to the Lord’s call. Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, sP said, “The Priesthood is God’s greatest gift to man; its faithful fulfillment is man’s greatest gift to God.” Realizing the need priests have for prayers, Father Fitzgerald founded the Handmaids of the Precious Blood, a cloistered community that prays particularly for priests. Consider adopting a priest to pray for, and pray for all priests that, inspired by the witness of St. John Vianney and strengthened by the grace of God, they may faithfully live out their vocation to the “ministerial priesthood which is the means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads His Church.”
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 of the United States of America have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights.
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.