Blessed Maria Caridad Brader
Today the Church commemorates Blessed Maria Caridad Brader (1860-1943), Foundress of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate.
She was an unusually intelligent child who had an intense love for Jesus Christ and devotion to Our Lady. Aware of her daughter’s talents and ability, her mother took pains to give her a good education.
When all the world lay at her feet, to entice her, she followed Christ’s call and decided to embrace the religious life. Initially, her mother predictably opposed this decision, since she was a widow and Maria was her only child.
At the age of 20, she entered the Franciscan convent. Several months later, she was clothed with the Franciscan habit and was given the name of “Mary Charity of the Love of the Holy Spirit”. Because she well-educated, she was assigned a teaching position at the convent school.
Sr Caritas volunteered to do missionary work in Ecuador. After catechizing countless groups of children there, she was sent to Tùquerres, Colombia, where her missionary zeal knew no bounds. She was concerned above all with the poor, the outcast and those who did not yet know the Gospel.
With the backing of Fr Reinaldo Herbrand, she founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate. The Congregation was first made up of young Swiss girls who followed the example of Mother Caritas. They were immediately joined by local vocations, above all from Colombia.
In her apostolic activity, Mother Caritas took care to combine contemplation and action. She encouraged her daughters to acquire effective academic qualifications, but without permitting the spirit of holy prayer and devotion to be extinguished, “Do not forget”, she told them, “that the better educated, the greater the skills the educator possesses, the more she will be able to do for our holy religion and the glory of God, especially when virtue is the vanguard of her knowledge. The more intense and visible her external activity, the deeper and more fervent her interior life must be”.
She focused the apostolate mainly on the education of the poor and the marginalized, wherever need called.
Her great love for Jesus in the Eucharist prompted her to ask and obtain permission for Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the convent. She left this most sacred treasure to the Congregation along with great respect for priests.
She was Superior General of the Congregation from 1893-1919 and from 1928-1940. In 1933, she had the joy of receiving pontifical approval of the Congregation.
On February 27, 1943, she died in Pasto, Colombia. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 23, 2003.