From the very start, Raphaela Mary envisioned an organization dedicated to education in the service of the Gospel. It needed to be “universal like the church” by always giving preference to the poor.
The Eucharistic Christ led her to found Communities based on union of hearts and the joy of serving so great a Lord. The Congregation, appropriately given the name “Handmaids,” in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first handmaid, quickly spread throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.
In 1926, the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to Philadelphia from Rome at the invitation of Cardinal Dennis Dougherty. The Sisters opened a small chapel on 34th Street, near the University of Pennsylvania and began immediately to teach classes in business skills, languages and the arts. These classes were well attended both by the women students at the University and by working women.
The Sisters also organized classes and clubs for children. The Handmaids especially cherished instructing women and children for reception into the Catholic Church. From the very beginning, the Sisters were delighted to see the increasing numbers of men, women, and children who spent time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
At present, there are some one hundred thirty Handmaid communities throughout the globe, with over one hundred fifty vibrant young women training to serve Jesus through the Handmaids in the United States and other countries.