Father Gerald, still in his Holy Cross habit, with the very first Handmaids in 1947.

Foundation Day…Our First Ever

A Handmaid HISTORY

Happy Foundation Day! In 1947, on the Feast of Pentecost, May 25th, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood were founded. Ever since, we’ve marked May 25th as the anniversary of our beginnings in New Mexico. But this year is a different kind of milestone. Why? After all, 69 years doesn’t sound as historical as next year’s 70th will be. We could, much as we call 25th anniversaries Silver Jubilees or 50th anniversaries Golden Jubilees, call next year our Sapphire Jubilee…which is unlikely to catch on. Nonetheless, our 69th remains very special because it’s also our 1st. First of many:

It is the first time we will celebrate our Foundation Day in New Market, Tennessee.

It is the first time we will celebrate our Foundation Day together as one family.

What?! Surely some are naturally asking how that could be? Handmaids have never celebrated this day all together…in 69 years?! Correct. Recall that although we were founded with the intent to be contemplatives for the sanctification of priests, the Archbishop of Santa Fe needed the women who came to begin the community Father Gerald founded, to serve throughout the Archdiocese. Father Gerald permitted the Sisters to be used in active roles and counseled obedience to the Archbishop’s request and said that one day the Handmaids would return to a more contemplative life. By 1948, Handmaids were serving throughout the Archdiocese and would soon find themselves in Vermont, Missouri, South Dakota, England, Illinois, Washington, and Italy. Even after Mother Bernadette, moving the community back towards Father’s original contemplative vision, closed most external active apostolates in the 1970s, there was still a need for nursing Sisters to staff the Saint Therese clinic in Santa Fe. So Handmaids were never able to all be together on May 25th.

Now, for the first time in our history, when we say, “Happy Foundation Day!” we can do so without means of phone or fax or letter. Now we can celebrate with each other in person and rejoice in our vocations of pouring our lives out for the sanctification of priests in prayer and sacrifice as Father Gerald wanted.

We’ve moved. We’ve moved again. We’ve brought all our Sisters (living and departed) HOME. And soon, with a new monastery, it will be time to grow again. Pray for us as we begin moving toward year 70 and building a place of prayer here in East Tennessee for Christ In His Priest.