Imagine seven business men, most of them married, who gathered regularly to share faith, and ultimately decided to exchange their stable and financially lucrative lifestyle for a communal life of prayer and good works. Although these men arranged for their families to be taken care of, one wonders what wives and children initially thought of this idea! The year was 1233, the place was Florence, Italy, and these men became the Founders of the Order of Servants of Mary. Perhaps the moral of the story is that some very good things can result from rather strange beginnings. Or, that every circumstance has the potential to be life giving, imbued with a spark of Divine Light.
In daring to be different, our Seven Holy Founders created something new that became a gift to the world, down through the centuries. Our congregation of Servants of Mary of London/Cuves became part of the Order in the 1800s, but we still trace our genealogy back to this event in the 1200s. Similar to the genealogy of your family, there are many branches to our family and different expressions of the original founders’ lifestyle.
We celebrate the Feast of the Seven Holy Founders each year on Feb. 17. This year, as we remember our origins, we will also be recognizing our congregation’s 125-year history in the United States. When our early sisters arrived on these shores, they were penniless and compelled to rely on the goodwill of others. They were willing to work hard though, giving back to those who helped them and to many others throughout the years. They were strong immigrant women, also carrying a spark of Divine Light as they ventured into the unknown. How fortunate we are today that those sisters were welcomed into the U.S.!
We all stand on someone’s shoulders, reaping the benefits of their struggles to make the world a better place. I hope you will take time to think about your ancestors also, and to thank them in prayer for their contribution to the life you now enjoy.
Val Lewandoski, OSM