Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Ancillae Cordis Jesu, (acj: initials for the Handmaids) is an international community of Roman Catholic women of diverse ages, races, and cultural backgrounds. Founded in 1877 by St. Raphaela Mary Porras in Spain, the Handmaids are now living and ministering in 24 different countries all over the world, including the United States.
The Handmaids are eucharistic women, whose charism (gift and commitment) is to share in the loving, reparative mission of Christ, to bring reconciliation and healing to people’s hearts and to their relationships with God, with one another, and with the whole of creation.
Our apostolic commitment to education in service of the Gospel includes giving spiritual direction and welcoming retreatants to our own centers and accompanying retreats elsewhere, facilitating a transformative encounter with God for people both as individuals and as members of a community.
We are Ignatian women, and Ignatian spirituality, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, has shaped our identity from the very beginning. In a sense, Ignatian Spirituality “gave birth” to our religious family. In 1877, our first Sisters were in the middle of an Ignatian retreat when they had to choose between the Ignatian spirituality that they had grown to know and to love and another way of praying and being, offered by the local bishop. Their decision was unanimous: “We want the rules of St. Ignatius.” And so our spiritual adventure began.
Ignatian spirituality, centered on the following of the poor and humble Christ, permeates and deepens every aspect of our lives as Handmaids. Our worldview is inspired by the gaze of the Trinity, a gaze which contemplates every person on our planet with tenderness and redemptive power. We are called to identify with Christ and to become partners with him in his work of redemption, always seeking the greater glory of God as he did. We learn to become women of discernment, able to discover God in and through all things, a God who is present in our world and active in our lives.
To discover more about the Handmaids, please visit their website.