The international association of the faithful, the Franciscans of Mary, has recently been granted pontifical approval for the fruits “it has produced in the lives of numerous Christian faithful, thus becoming an authentic path in the school of sanctity and apostolate.”
During a ceremony at the Vatican, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which promotes “the active and responsible participation of the lay faithful in associations, a mission which has been entrusted to it by the Roman Pontiff,” read the decree granting the special status to the movement.
The Franciscans of Mary were founded 19 years ago in Madrid by a group of young people who felt called to live a spirituality based on devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Virgin Mary. Founded by Father Santiago Martin, the movement has some 10,000 members, including many priests and seminarians.
According to the Spanish daily, “La Razon,” “those first young people also felt the need to volunteer in service to the poor. Thus, in a short amount of time, new lay groups were formed that came to be called ‘schools of thankfulness,’ with the mission of remaining in a ‘constant state of gratitude to God’.” The Franciscans of Mary seek to live and spread this “spirituality of thankfulness not only to those in need, but also to those catechists and evangelists who ‘are misguided, lack spiritual motivation and are victims of secularism.”
Nowadays, the movement stresses, people “tend to do good works not for religious or transcendent motives, but only for human or humanitarian ones. The mission of this association will be to help the believer discover that in one’s neighbor in need—including on who is need of faith or of deeper formation—Christ is present.”
The Franciscans of Mary are present in nineteen countries, including Spain, the US, Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Poland, Holland and Italy, and even in Asia where they are present in Sri Lanka. The movement’s website can be found at http://www.frmaria.org/