Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament
(Maria Luisa de la Peña Navarro)
Don Epigmenio de la Peña, a widower, and Maria Luisa Navarro are married in La Capilla de Guadalupe, Jalisco, Mexico.
Two children, Maria Magdalena Clotilde de Jesus and Maria Clotilde de Jesus die in childhood.
June 21, 1866
Maria Luisa de la Peña is born in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico.
Despite fears that she will not survive, the child clings to her fragile hold on life.
It is her mother’s birthday.
Pius IX is the reigning Pope
June 27, 1866
Maria Luisa is baptized in the parish of San Miguel in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico.
The child is given the name Maria Luisa to honor St. Aloysius Gonzaga on whose feastday she was born and also to honor her mother who shares the same name and birthday. Her Godparents are Manuel Rojas and Doña Rafaela de la Peña.
– Religious persecution of the Church in Mexico. The teaching of religion is prohibited. Goods of the Church are taken over by the government.1869-1870: Vatican Council I is convened
January 2, 1873
St. Therese of the Child Jesus is born in Alencon, France.
June 29, 1874
Maria Luisa’s Confirmation during the pastoral visit of Archbishop Pedro Loza y Perdave, Archbishop of Guadalajara.
1878-1903: Pope Leo XIII is the reigning Pope
1876-1911: Porfirio Diaz comes to power in Mexico. The poor are maltreated and ostracized. The Church lived in a time of relative peace.
June 18, 1880 Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity is born in the military camp of Arvor near Bourges, France.
February 9, 1882
Maria Luisa de la Peña age 15, and Don Pascual Rojas, age 30, are married in San Miguel Church.
As was the custom at the time the marriage was pre-arranged by her parents and Maria Luisa accedes to her parent’s wishes in spite of her own desire to enter a contemplative religious community. Pascual’s patron saint is noted for his devotion to the Holy Eucharist.
God does not bless the couple with children. Pascual and Maria Luisa after much prayer decide that the ‘poor will be their children’.
March 31, 1890
Mother Cabrini arrives in the United States to work among the Italian immigrants.
February 12, 1891
St. Katherine Drexel founds the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People.
October 12, 1891
Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) is born in Breslau, Germany.
November 15, 1891
The Conference of St. Vincent de Paul is founded with Maria Luisa as President.
January 7, 1892
Together, Don Pascual and Maria Luisa open the Little Hospital of the Sacred Heart in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico.
At the dedication Doctor Pascual Rojas states – The money that God has given us to bring about this work is like the blood of Christ. It must serve to redeem the world.
April 3, 1896
Doctor Pascual Rojas dies on Good Friday. In his last hours he tells Maria Luisa that she can now follow her desire to become a religious. Maria Luisa is left a widow at the age of twenty-nine.
In the same year, she applies at the Visitation convent but is refused due to health reasons.
1900: St. Teresa of the Andes is born in Santiago Chile
1903-1914: Pius X is the reigning Pope
March 3, 1904
Maria Luisa enters St. Teresa Carmel in Guadalajara. She remains there seven months.
October 11, 1904
At the request of the Archbishop Maria Luisa leaves the cloister to return to Sacred Heart Hospital which has fallen into neglect and disrepair during her absence.
Together with other companions she prays for discernment to know God’s will. Rev. Arcadio Medrano asks the Archbishop for approval for them to begin living a regular Community life.
December 24, 1904
Maria Luisa and six companions begin life in Community with a simple ceremony at which Father Medrano presides.
The community numbers twenty-one. They care for the sick and open a school for girls. The sisters alternate at adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 4:00a.m. – 10:00p.m.
At the request of the Archbishop Mother Luisita and the sisters begin the unification process with the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
1910: Beginning of the Mexican Revolution. From this time on there are changes of power and civil war in Mexico
May 22, 1913
The new Archbishop, Francisco Orozco y Jimenez asks the Community to merge with the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament
1914-1922: Pope Benedict XV is elected Pope 1914 – 1918: World War I
Persecution of the Church in Mexico begins again.
July 27, 1914
Maria Luisa makes her Novitiate in a private home due to dispersal of religious because of fear of arrest. She receives the name Sister Jane Frances de Chantal of the Blessed Sacrament.
May 2, 1915
Sister Jane Frances de Chantal of the Blessed Sacrament makes her first vows as a Sister Servant of the Blessed Sacrament.
May 22, 1917
Archbishop Orozco y Jimenez asks Sister Jane Frances de Chantal and any of her companions who so desire to separate from the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament and return to Atotonilco to administer the Hospital of the Sacred Heart which has again fallen into neglect and disrepair without Maria Luisita’s leadership.
Three of the original twenty companions leave with Maria Luisa. They are dispensed from their vows. Two others who had previously left the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament again join her at the hospital.
1917: Mexico’s new Constitution is enacted. Attack on the Church renewed.
1918: Mother Luisita, as those around her begin to call her, opens the – Little School of the Spelling Book and herself gives reading and writing classes.
The sisters wear a black dress with pleats, and a black transparent veil held in the back with a strap. They also wear a black cape with a collar and a crucifix with a chain.
January 19, 1919
Mother Luisita opens an orphanage for homeless girls in Atotonilco. She also begins Sunday Schools for young girls for their Christian formation.
September 7, 1920
Mother Luisita and her companions with the blessing of Archbishop Orozco y Jimenez petition Rome for affiliation to the Carmelite Order
February 2, 1921
Mother Luisita and her twelve companions begin living the Carmelite Rule. A Mass of Thanksgiving is offered by Rev. Macario Velazquez
April 1, 1921
Mother Luisita and six sisters receive the Carmelite habit in the morning and make their vows in the afternoon of the same day.
Mother’s religious name is now: Maria Luisa Josefa of the Blessed Sacrament. Archbishop Orozco y Jimenez appoints Mother Luisita the first Superior General of the Congregation.
Mother Luisita accompanies the Sisters to the first foundation in Guadalajara which is established amid great poverty.
1922-1929: Pope Pius XI
Mother Isabel Rioseco, OSF, a Franciscan Religious, arrives to form the first novices by order of the Archbishop. She remains exactly one year.
Beatification of St. Therese
September 24, 1924
Mother Luisita accompanies Sisters to the second foundation of the House of St. Francis of Assisi in Tepatitlan.
Continued persecution of the Church in Mexico.
April 1, 1925
Mother Luisita and first group of sisters make their final vows. The Archbishop dispenses her from the fifth year of temporary vows.
Mother Luisita accompanies Sisters to the new foundation of Ocotlan, Jalisco.
July 19, 1926
The Archbishop Francisco Orozco y Jimenez signs a document stating that all religious should immediately return to their homes or remain hidden in the house of some pious family.
July 31, 1926
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and all religious services are forbidden in Mexico. The tabernacles are empty! Persecution of the Church escalates and numerous priests, religious and lay people give their lives to defend the faith.
June 20, 1927
Mother Luisita feeling the need of safeguarding the vocations of her religious daughters leaves her beloved Mexico in disguise and comes to the United States.
Her companions are Sister Teresa Navarro and Sister Margarita Maria of the Sacred Heart Hernandez. They travel by train. Sister Margarita Maria is the only one who knows English and this is very limited.
The following day marks Mother Luisita’s sixty-first birthday. Sister Margarita Maria is twenty-four years old and has been professed for slightly less than two years.
Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro is martyred in Mexico with the cry “Viva Cristo Rey” on his lips.
Cristo Rey Carmel is founded in San Francisco from the Carmel in Guadalajara that Mother Luisita had entered in 1904
June 23, 1927
Mother Luisita and companions cross the border into the United States and arrive in Nogales, Arizona.
Mother Luisita asks her companions to kneel with her in the Pullman car and recite the Te Deum in thanksgiving that they are now in a free Country.
June 24, 1927
Mother Luisita and her companions arrive in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
It is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Archbishop John J. Cantwell is the local Ordinary in Los Angeles.
The sisters are warmly welcomed by Bishop Cantwell who arranges for them to stay with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He also entrusts them to the care of Rev. Leroy S. Callahan who is in charge of assisting the Mexican refugees in the Archdiocese. They remain with the Sisters from June 27 – August 3, 1927.
August 3, 1927
Mother Luisita and her companions move to Long Beach and are welcomed into Holy Innocents Parish by Rev. Francis C. Ott, the Pastor.
The Sisters stay at the home of Mrs. Nicolastia Flores who opens her home to the Sisters who are from her native state of Jalisco. They remain at this home at 1851 Locust Street in Long Beach.
September 12, 1927
Five more Sisters arrive from Mexico. Mother Luisita and companions have acquired a large house on Cedar Street in Long Beach. March, May, August
Additional Sisters arrive in the Archdiocese until there are over 1928 thirty Sisters. The house is no loner large enough.
The Sisters do catechetical work among their fellow refugees. They also take the parish census, teach Spanish and establish sewing circles for the women. They operate a second-hand store in order to support themselves
Twenty Sisters begin two years of domestic service at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. The Christian Brothers operate the College. The move is the result of an urgent decision to find housing, work and support for the growing number for Sisters.
Mother Luisita, herself, remains at St. Mary s in Moraga for eight months and shares the austerity of the life with her sisters.
August 28, 1929
The Sisters who remained at Holy Innocents Parish in Long Beach move to St. Patrick’s Parish in Los Angeles where Father Francis Ott has been transferred as pastor.
August 29, 1929
Mother Luisita is present for the move from Long Beach to St. Patrick’s Parish.
The Sisters secure a $3,500.00 bank loan to move an abandoned convent to an empty lot in St. Patrick’s Parish. Archbishop John J. Cantwell co-signs the bank note as security for its payment.
Mother Luisita establishes an Association of Christian Mothers and a group of young women known later as the Youth of Catholic Mexican Women.
The Sisters also begin to accept young girls as boarding students and the foundations of the future Little Flower Missionary House are laid.
June 29, 1929
The Churches in Mexico are re-opened.
October 29, 1929
The Stock Market crashes and the Great Depression begins.
October 24, 1929
Mother Luisita returns to Mexico with Sister Margarita Maria Hernandez.
The Novitiate in Mexico is re-opened.
December 24, 1929
The Community quietly celebrates the silver jubilee of its founding.
Mother Luisita is summoned to return to the United States by Archbishop Orozco y Jimenez who is living in exile in Los Angeles.
Sister Margarita Maria Hernandez of the Sacred Heart returns with Mother Luisita.
Mother Luisita returns to Mexico where for the remainder of her life she lives in dire poverty, moving from house to house.
August 2, 1930
Santa Teresita Sanatorium is opened for the care of girls with tuberculosis.
August 10, 1930
A meeting is held and Mother Luisita is confirmed as Superior General of the Congregation.
The Constitutions and Ceremonial of the Congregation are approved by the Archdiocese of Guadalajara.
June & August 1932
Mother Luisita visits her daughters in the United States.
October 22, 1932
Five Sisters are arrested by the government in Mexico causing severe anguish to Mother Luisita.
October 22, 1932
An American Province and Novitiate are established. Mother Luisita expresses in her letters her hope that the Sisters will be able to establish permanent residence in the United States so as no longer to be considered as refugees.
In Mexico the persecution of the Church continues. Mother and the Sisters continually change residences, live in constant danger and suffer from hunger, cold and insecurity.
Mother Luisita establishes the foundation in Mexico City near the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Mother Luisita suffers a serious illness that leaves her with the kidney disease that will ultimately cause her death. At this time she writes her last will and testament to the Community
Mother Luisita makes her last visit to the Sisters in the United States March 19, 1936.
Mother Luisita establishes the foundation in Jamay for the education of children.
June 11, 1936
Mother Luisita establishes the foundation in Mexticacan for the education of children.
August 24, 1936
Mother Luisita establishes the foundation in Santo Tomas de los Platanos. Although Mother is not able to go herself to the foundation, she continues to guide and direct the new foundation through her letters and counsel.
An official letter from the Chancery Office in November 1936 informs the sisters of the danger of being discovered by the government. The Sisters are ordered to leave the convent immediately and disperse into houses of trustworthy friends or their own families.
Mother Luisita moves to the house on Garibaldi Street which is her last earthly home.
February 11, 1937
Mother Maria Luisia Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament enters into eternal life shortly before 5:00a.m.
Before she looses consciousness she blesses the Congregation. She receives Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament moments before her death.
Throughout the day the sisters arrive to bid farewell to their beloved Mother. People from the town come to the convent to honor the body of Mother Luisita. They touch rosaries, medals and other objects to her body. They pray for help through her intercession.
February 12, 1937
His Excellency Jose Garibi Rivera blesses the grave and says the ritual prayers. The body of Mother Luisita is laid to rest in the Cemetery of Mezquitan in Guadalajara.
The Community gathered in the Chapel hears the following words from the priest who spoke to them on the day of Mother’s death…
“It depends on you to keep your venerated Foundress forever alive among her children. Lift up your gaze on high and behold her, radiant and happy for all eternity. The distance is not great, nor need it be a barrier to separate you from her. Madre Luisita is in the midst of you. And here she will remain while you preserve the goodly spirit, the special stamp which distinguishes you. It is a blessed heritage which has been bequeathed to you by that woman of celestial aspect, of smile tranquil and serene whom God, Our Lord, in His loving Providence gave you for a Mother.
Venerable Mother Luisita, pray for us!