August 14, 1941. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan Conventual Friar, was dying of starvation in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, Poland. He had spontaneously offered his own life to spare that of a fellow prisoner condemned to death. Kolbe was eventually killed by a lethal injection and his body was burned in the crematorium.
However, even with his death the Nazis were not able to suppress the great treasure of his spiritual and apostolic legacy. From his ashes, scattered in the wind, his life witness of an unconditional love for others continued to spread throughout the world.
In 1954, inspired and drawn by the riches of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s spiritual doctrine, Fr. Luigi M. Faccenda, OFM Conv., a fellow Franciscan, founded our consecrated Family, the Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, in Bologna, Italy. Its first members were young women from the local group of the Militia of the Immaculata. Their desire was to live their consecration to the Immaculata fully, to the point of giving themselves totally to God through a life of consecration to Him, lived out in the ordinary conditions of the world. Therefore, since the very beginning we have placed ourselves in the wake of St. Maximilian’s Marian and missionary spirituality, acknowledging its intense apostolic dynamism and assuming his main ideal of total consecration to the Immaculata.
“Extending a hand to all and leading all men to God through the Immaculata is a mission worth living, working, suffering, and even dying for.”
St. Maximilian Kolbe
Total consecration to the Immaculata is the core spirituality of our consecrated and missionary life. Our desire is to make the presence of Mary visible in the world and to live out the Gospel in her footprints, in every situation in which we are called to work.
After her example, we feel always called to be on a journey in order to share the Gospel of life and love with men and women of our times, and so be a sign of hope to them and with them.
Perpetual consecration to God by means of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience recognized by the Church marks the final and decisive stage of our commitment to following the Lord Jesus and His call.
Members of the Institute fulfill their vocation in a variety of forms. As consecrated women, we may live either in our family, or alone, or in groups of fraternal life in the Houses of the Immaculata.
Today the Institute consists of Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata – consecrated women and, since 1997, men in addition to the Fr. Kolbe Volunteers of the Immaculata, who are associated lay or clerical members who share in the spirituality and mission of the Institute according to their state of life.
Prayer is the inner strength, support, and nourishment of our lives.
At least three hours of our days are set apart for our personal encounter with God. Daily prayer, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, meditation on the Word of God, and an intense Marian devotion help us to live out those evangelical values to which we wish to give witness.
Every day we renew the total offering of ourselves to the Immaculata by praying:
“O Immaculate Virgin….
I offer to you my whole being and my entire life,
with all that I have, all that I love, and all that I am:
my body, my heart, my whole life….
Guide me to rediscover every day the gift
of my Marian and missionary vocation
in all its wonder and to know
the secrets of your love….”
An important aspect of our charism is our life of communion, which benefits from frequent meetings at the Houses of the Immaculata.
There we endeavor to foster an atmosphere of fraternity in which each one of us is encouraged to share spiritual gifts and apostolic ideas and experiences. Within our communities we aim to recreate a setting conducive to communion and collaboration, seeking to achieve the ideal of “one heart only and one soul only”, sharing in the same goal and mission.