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Name That Saint: Maria Caritas

Name that Saint: Blessed Mother Maria Caritas

"See God's will in everything, and do His will with joy, out of love of Him.”
~Blessed Mother Maria Caritas.

From early in her youth, it was apparent that Mary Josephine Caroline Brader was gifted. Mary was born in Switzerland in 1860 to a devout family. After her father died, her mother ensured she would get the best education possible and enrolled her in a school run by Franciscan sisters.

With her great love for Jesus and Mary, she decided to become a Franciscan nun after she graduated. Although her mother was a faithful Catholic, she wasn’t eager for her only child to enter religious life. Eventually she agreed, and Mary entered the cloistered Capuchins of Maria Hilf at the age of 20. Seven months later, she received the Franciscan habit and a new name: Sr. Maria Caritas (Sr. Mary Charity).

Given her excellent education, Sr. Maria Caritas was assigned to teach at the convent school. Seven years later, the Vincentian Bishop of Portoviejo, Ecuador, Pietro Schumacher, CM, sent a letter to the community asking for sisters to work as missionaries in his diocese (at that time, the doors opened for cloistered religious to engage in apostolic work). Sr. Maria eagerly volunteered. Her superior, Blessed Maria Bernarda Butler, gladly accepted her offer, saying to the Bishop, “Sr. Caritas will go to the missionary foundation; she is supremely generous, shows no reluctance to any sacrifice, and with her extraordinary practical sense and education will be able to render great services to the mission.”

Months later, she and five other sisters went to Ecuador, where Sr. Maria remained a teacher and catechist. In 1893, she was sent to Colombia. She loved the people and travelled to the most remote areas, “braving the wild breakers of the ocean, the tangled undergrowth of the jungle, and the intense cold of the high plateau.” [1]

That same year, she founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate to bring more missionary sisters to the region to educate the poor and marginalized. They lived in the same poverty as the people they helped, and trusted in God to fulfill their needs. The work was difficult and the days long; as Superior General of the Congregation, Mother Maria Caritas was untiring to reach as many people as they could. However, she always balanced prayer with action, telling her daughters, “The more intense and visible [your] external activity, the deeper and more fervent [your] interior life must be.”

As a former Capuchin, she had a great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and received permission to have Perpetual Adoration in her convents. Like St. Teresa of Calcutta many years later, Mother Maria Caritas spent time in prayer with Jesus, present in the Eucharist, which helped fuel her work for the poor.

Mother Maria Caritas died on February 27, 1943, and on March 23, 2003 Pope St. John Paul II beatified her.

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Photo: https://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20030323_brader_photo.html
[1] http://www.vatican.va/content/dam/wss/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20030323_brader_en.html


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