I'm currently reworking this press release, which we received earlier today from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe here in La Crosse. It seems that the Shrine will finally have a sacramental staff, which is great news in a diocese strapped for priests like La Crosse. While I don't profess to be an expert on the Friars of the Immaculate, I am aware that they have care of Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome, and that Archbishop Burke has a special love and devotion for that basilica. However it came to be, their arrival at the Shrine is an occasion for rejoicing.
The Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Chairman of the Shrine Board of Directors, has announced that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate will open a new foundation of Priests and Brothers to be resident and serve at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In announcing the new foundation of the Friars of the Immaculate, Archbishop Burke expressed deepest gratitude to Father Stefano Maria Manelli, F.I., Superior General of the Friars, and Father Peter Damian Maria Fehlner, F.I., an esteemed American member of the Friars, who has been working with Archbishop Burke in preparing for the new foundation at the Shrine in La Crosse.
With the approval and blessing of the Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki, Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, the initial foundation of two priests and one brother will provide for the sacramental and other pastoral needs of the pilgrims to the Shrine. They will also conduct retreats and give spiritual conferences.
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is a religious institute of consecrated life of pontifical right, which is devoted to the apostolate. It was founded in Italy in 1970 by two Franciscan Friars, Father Stefano Maria Manelli and Father Gabriel Maria Pellettieri. As noted above, Father Manelli is the current Superior General of the Order.
The Friars live the radical life of Saint Francis and are dedicated, in particular, to the apostolate of the communications media, under the protection and inspiration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and her devoted servant, Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe. They wear the Franciscan habit. In addition to the profession of the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Friars profess an additional fourth vow of unlimited consecration to Mary Immaculate, that is, a vow to cooperate without reserve in the mission of the Mother of God for the universal salvation of souls.
The Friars of the Immaculate have houses in several countries, including Italy, the United States (at New Bedford, Connecticut and Bloomington, Indiana), the Philippines, Brazil, Russia, Australia, and Nigeria. At present, the religious institute has about three hundred members.
The residence for the Friars is under construction adjacent to the Shrine Church and should be ready to receive the Friars by July of 2008.
Additional information on the Franciscan Friars is available on their website