María Luisa Josefa
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Venerable Mother María Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, also called Mother Luisita (June 21, 1866 – February 11, 1937) was a Mexican Roman Catholic nun who founded the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.
She was born María Luisa de la Peña y Navarro in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco, the third (and first surviving) of fourteen children. Although she felt drawn to the religious life, at the age of fifteen, in obedience to her parents, she married Pascual Rojas, a prominent physician twice her age. Their life together was happy. They built the little Hospital of the Sacred Heart to serve those less fortunate. After fourteen years of married life Maria Luisa was left a widow.
Eight years later Maria Luisa entered the Cloistered Carmelites and became immersed in the spirituality of Carmel. After seven months she was asked by the Archbishop to return to her work at the hospital which needed her guidance. Along with the hospital she opened a school and orphanage.
The Archbishop told her that she would have to join an existing religious Congregation. She joined the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Four years later the Archbishop asked her to return as she was needed at the hospital and with the children. More women joined her. This time the Archbishop suggested that she found a Religious Congregation; the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart (Hermanas Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón, also called Carmelitas de Tijuana) were established on February 2, 1921. The charism of the order is “to unite the spirit of Carmel with the active apostolate.
Mother Luisita found on December 24, 1904 in the Mexican state of Jalisco. On June 24, 1927, Mother Luisa and two other sisters sought refuge in Los Angeles from the religious persecutions in Mexico at that time. This led to the establishment of twelve Carmels in the United States with a novitiate and eventually to the establishment of The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, a sister-congregation to the foundation in Mexico. After two years in the United States, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa returned to Guadalajara, where she continued her work of providing healthcare for the poor.
Mother Luisita died on February 11, 1937. In 1942 her remains were secretly taken to be buried in Guadalajara, Jalisco. In 1966 they were brought back to the place of her birth Atotonilco. In 1998 they were placed in a special chapel in that town.
On July 1, 2000 Pope John Paul II promulgated that Mother Maria Luisa Josefa be called Venerable, which means that it has been proven that Mother Luisita practiced her virtues to a heroic degree. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates her Feast on February 11.
Venerable Mother Maria Luisa Joséfa of the Most Blessed Sacrament is the designated patron of the Santa Clara, CA convent of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara.