Asociación privada de fieles Franciscanos de María
ALSO KNOWN AS
Franciscans of Mary
The Franciscans of Mary were founded in Madrid in 1988 by Rev. Santiago Martín. The Association has its roots in a group of young people who chose to embrace an experience of spirituality inspired by the figures of St. Francis of Assisi and the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a strong dimension of voluntary work in the service of the poor. It received its first ecclesiastical approval in 1993 from the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Angel Suquia, as a public association of the faithful of diocesan right. From that moment on, the Franciscans of Mary began to expand outside their home diocese, first of all in Spain and then abroad. They opened numerous "schools of gratitude" – a distinctive “work” of the Franciscans of Mary − on every continent. On 25 March 2007, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of the Franciscans of Mary as an international association of the faithful.
The identity of the Franciscans of Mary is shaped by their charism of gratitude. As a spirituality movement, it seeks above all to direct its members towards holiness and, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Francis of Assisi, to have a relationship with God that is a grateful response to the love we receive from God through his Son. They also encourage others to have this kind of relationship with God in which it is not only interest or fear that marks our relationship with the Lord. Gratitude should be expressed in works. These range from a personal relationship with the Lord − prayer, the Eucharist, confession − to service of one's neighbour and especially neighbours in need. In them can be seen the face of the suffering Christ who said that whatever we do to the least of these we do also to him.
The basic structure of the Franciscans of Mary, their essential “cell”, is the “schools of gratitude”. These are small communities where members of this spiritual family share their experiences and receive doctrinal and spiritual formation. Some of these “schools” are like families and, as in the early Church, families experience community as they pray and listen to the Word of God. In each town there is a person responsible for coordinating the various “schools of gratitude" and in each country there is a local coordinator. The Franciscans of Mary have three branches that are recognised in the statutes: lay people, priests, and women who live according to the evangelical counsels. They are represented on the General Council which is presided over by a priest of the Association.
The main focus is the “schools of gratitude”, but we also manage a retirement home in the diocese of Los Teques (Venezuela) and a hospital in the archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia). We direct a parish in the diocese of Escuintla (Guatemala) in an area where most people are indigenous. The parish runs, among other things, a school, a primary health care dispensary and a food service that provides for the most vulnerable.
The Franciscans of Mary currently have five catechetical training courses for children (who receive instruction in their own homes through their parents or grandparents), five training courses for adolescents (given in the same way as the courses for children), and nine training courses for adults with 52 topics each. In addition, the founder of the Franciscans of Mary is the author of 23 books which serve as spiritual nourishment for the members of the Association. The Franciscans of Mary are also present on all social networks and run their own television station (www.magnificat.tv) that can be viewed in 125 countries. It broadcasts in three languages. They also have an internet page with news about the Church (www.catolicos-on-line.org).
Plaza Juan Antonio Suanzes, 1