November 16, 2020

Planting Day with the Sisters

“Planting Day” is one of our favorite things about Fall!  It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to our Summer flowers every year, but wonderful to praise God in new and beautiful parts of His Creation.


One of the Sisters shared, “When I look at each little pansy, with its painted face and ‘open arms’, I like to think, ‘when God made that flower, He knew that I would see it and that it would brighten my day today.’  And that thought can help when it seems like the world is full of troubles, because God sees everything and He loves us so much, that not even a little flower is outside His Providence for me.”


We hope the beauty of nature at Casa Maria, whether you’re here or just seeing it in photos, will brighten your day, too!



This year we are experimenting with planting a winter garden in a raised bed, and can’t wait to reap the harvest!











October 25, 2020

Join the Sisters in Preparing for Election Day

Please join us in praying a Novena to Our Lady of Victory for our Nation and that the upcoming presidential election will progress according to God’s Holy Will:

Lord, have mercy on us, Christ, have mercy on us,
Lord, have mercy on us, Christ, hear us, Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Victory, Pray for us.

Victorious daughter of the Father, “     ”
Victorious Mother of the Son,
Victorious Spouse of the Holy Spirit,
Victorious servant of the Holy Trinity
Victorious in your Immaculate Conception,

Victorious in crushing the serpent’s head,
Victorious over all the children of Adam,
Victorious over all enemies,
Victorious in your response to the Angel Gabriel,
Victorious in your wedding to St. Joseph,
Victorious in the birth of Christ,

Victorious in the flight to Egypt,
Victorious in your exile,
Victorious in your home at Nazareth,
Victorious in finding Christ in the temple,
Victorious in the mission of your Son,
Victorious in His passion and death,

Victorious in His Resurrection and Ascension,
Victorious in the Coming of the Holy Spirit,
Victorious in your sorrows and joys,
Victorious in your glorious Assumption,
Victorious in the angels who remained faithful,
Victorious in the happiness of the saints,

Victorious in the message of the prophets,
Victorious in the testimony of the patriarchs,
Victorious in the zeal of the apostles,
Victorious in the witness of the evangelists,
Victorious in the wisdom of the doctors,
Victorious in the deeds of the confessors,

Victorious in the triumph of all holy women,
Victorious in the faithfulness of the martyrs,
Victorious in your powerful intercession,
Victorious under your many titles,
Victorious at the moment of death,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Pray for us, blessed Lady of Victory. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O Victorious Lady! Thou who has ever such powerful influence with Thy Divine Son, in conquering the hardest of hearts, intercede for those for whom we pray, that their hearts being softened by the rays of Divine Grace, they may return to the unity of the true Faith, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 Vouchsafe that I may praise you, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against your enemies!

Our Lady of Victory, Pray for us!

October 21, 2020

Virtual Retreats, A Success!

Setting up for streaming Morning Prayer

Dear Family and Friends,

During these strange times, God has seen fit to expand our apostolate in an unexpected way. As we had to cancel all of our in-person retreats for the spring and summer, we began offering these retreats virtually. Although it is not the same as coming to a retreat in person, it has still born abundant fruit and reached many people that could not otherwise have attended our retreats.

The virtual retreats match our in-person schedule as closely as possible. They include video conferences which can be watched at a scheduled time with the group, or on your own time, a zoom meeting with the sisters and live Q&A session with the retreat master, and live-streamed Divine Office, Rosary, and Divine Mercy Chaplet with the sisters.

Sister Rita Marie is still giving book recommendations and answering tough questions during “Sister Servant Sharing”, now via zoom!

We have been blessed to have people attend from all over the United States and beyond, including Canada and several European countries! Elements of our virtual retreats, such as our recording of the Holy Rosary, have reached individuals who are homebound, in recovery facilities, or otherwise unable to come to Casa Maria, even aside from COVID.

The retreats have been on a number of topics, including prayer, growing in virtue, making good decisions, and understanding the end times. We are so grateful to our Retreat Masters for making the effort to record conferences and be available for Question and Answer periods, tackling a lot of technological challenges in the process.  By the grace of God, we hope to continue offering virtual retreats in the future for all those who, because of the coronavirus or any other reason, cannot attend a retreat at Casa Maria in person.

Sisters join the retreatants for the Divine Mercy Chaplet

Check our schedule to see which retreats are going to be streamed, even after we are back in action in person!  (With the permission of the retreat masters, some of these past retreats are still available to listen to, upon request here.)

God Bless You!

Here are some kind responses from our retreatants who attended virtually:

“What a super great retreat you organized!  …I enjoyed everything; and of course Father’s talks were so powerful.”

“What a wonderful retreat!  It was so spiritually nourishing and uplifting.  I am very grateful for all those who worked so hard to make this happen and that I could attend virtually.”

“I am deeply grateful for the gift of this retreat.  Thank you for hosting this life-changing experience!”

October 11, 2020

Sisters Learn New Skills!

Hello from Casa Maria!

It’s looking pretty empty here without you!  We are just beginning to have our first in-person events since March and we look forward to gradually re-introducing our normal apostolic works in the upcoming months.

While you may smile at how we’re behind the times, COVID19 has been a great opportunity for us to learn “new” ways of using technology to engage in our Apostolate of Evangelization through Retreats and Catechesis.  We’ve been blessed to participate in and host various online Conferences, small groups, catechetical meetings, vocations panels and our very own Virtual Retreats.

As exciting as this is, we cannot wait to see you in person!

Here are a few snapshots from some of our recent projects.  We send a big thank you to all who have supported our Community during this time- your prayers and generosity have made our apostolic life possible in this unusual time!  Please know of our prayers for all of you.

We have become pros at setting up mics, tri-pods, and other equipment to film anywhere on our property.

We set up a camera to livestream our Rosary and Divine Office so that our retreatants can join us during virtual events.

The sisters participating in virtual retreats all had a ZOOM lesson so that we would know how to navigate small group sessions during the Mother/Daughter Retreats this summer.

The Sisters’ new “Media Office”!

The Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word have been very helpful in teaching us about recording equipment, filming, editing, and much more!

How many sisters does it take to get a mic in place?

A funny moment: one of our recordings was “video-bombed” by our own yard crew whose edger added a new musical element to “I’ll Fly Away”!  (Visit our vimeo page to see this recording with others to come!)

October 3, 2020

Our Weapon is Prayer

Excitement rose as we set up to welcome friends and family back to Casa Maria for a beautiful First Saturday Mass in the Breezeway!

Dear Family & Friends,

Our foundress Mother Mary Gabriel always emphasized, echoing St. Paul, that in all of our community’s apostolic work, “we teach spiritual things spiritually.” As many of you know, for years we have been teaching about the meaning and importance of the First Saturday devotions and the Rosary at parishes, youth conferences, schools, and college campuses.

Many thoughtful preparations went into making the breezeway beautiful and conducive to the Holy Mass.

Why? Well, because as St. Thomas Aquinas would say, how can you love what you don’t know? How can you freely pick up a devotion when you don’t have a deep knowledge of it so that it can take root in your heart? How can it help shape your life into Christ’s likeness?

We are all distressed seeing the sad circumstances in which we are living both here in the United States and throughout the world. The pandemic and the violence in the streets have both, in many ways, changed our way of living, but if you look at the history of Portugal around the time of the apparition at Fatima, you will see that history repeats itself. When Our Lady appeared in Fatima in 1917, the world was dealing with war, widespread anarchy and violence, a pandemic, and the rise of communism.

Our Lord has entrusted the peace of the world to His Mother’s Immaculate Heart. All of these problems can be averted by Our Lady of Fatima’s peace plan from Heaven: the First Saturdays.

Many Churches have been closed because of this pandemic–no Mass, no sacraments, and no First Saturdays. What are we to do? Shall we sit back, shrug our shoulders and wait until everything gets back to normal?

Our country was built by courageous pilgrims united in a noble cause. Our ancestors knew what it meant to sacrifice themselves for God and country. Above all, we have the witness of the martyrs who shed their blood for Christ, and our faith is the fruit of their sacrificial love.

In Japan, the Catholic Church was outlawed in 1632. The priests were expelled or martyred and the Churches were destroyed, but the Catholic faith was kept alive through the faithful who prayed the Rosary. When the ban was lifted and the missionaries returned to Japan, they were surprised to see how the people kept and passed on the Faith from generation to generation through the Rosary.

Let us courageously do all it takes to effectively practice this devotion. If First Saturday devotions are not held publicly in your parish, you can easily do them on your own. You can attend Mass or a Communion service at a local parish, pray the Rosary as a family, keep Our Lady company by meditating on one of the mysteries of the Rosary for 15 minutes, and go to Confession within 8 days before or after the First Saturday.

Sister Ave Maria gave a last-minute touch-up to the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

We have joyfully reopened our First Saturday devotions at Casa Maria, with Mass currently celebrated outdoors due to the pandemic recommendations. We invite you to visit this page on our website with resources for making the First Saturdays and encourage you to be creative in making this a part of your family’s spiritual life.

In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Sr. Ave Maria, SsEW