History of the Marian Servants of the Incarnate Wisdom®
The Marian Servants of the Incarnate Wisdom®, Inc. (MSIW) was formed under the direction of the Holy Spirit by founding members, Alicia Goodwin and Gina Waters. In 2004, the two were unknown to one another, were living in different cities and had vastly different backgrounds. Neither was a Marian Servant; however the Lord’s hidden plan was already in motion.
Both Alicia and Gina heard the call from the Lord to become spiritual directors, and their search for certification led them to attend the Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence® School of Spirituality in Clearwater, FL. Alicia enrolled in the January 2004-2006 class while Gina later enrolled in the June 2005-2007 class.Their separate but parallel journeys to respond to God’s call continued as they studied, prayed and served. Within each of them grew a desire to be formed as a Marian Servant. About this time, the Lord brought the two of them together in Alicia’s hometown of Houston, TX. Gina had been living in Baton Rouge, LA and had a relationship with members of the Marian Servants of the Eucharist. In the winter of 2005, her husband was transferred to Houston, and Gina knew that a connection with the Marian Servants™ was important. Adrienne Novotny, co-director of the School of Spirituality, put the two in contact.
In March 2006, Gina and Alicia met casually with the intent to socialize and to lend encouragement to each other. What began as an informal social meeting concluded with the conviction that the Lord had called the two together for a holy purpose: to form a new community chapter of the Marian Servants™ in Houston. The two committed to gather for regular prayer, and despite the 40 miles between their homes in Houston, the Lord opened a door for them to meet at a centrally located church. Under the direction and leadership of Alicia, the two met weekly for over a year in the Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Cyril of Alexandria and prayed for discernment as the chapter was being formed. Simultaneously, the two took steps to commit to the Rule of Life of the Marian Servants as out-of-town members of the Founding Community of the Marian Servants of Divine Providence®.
Slowly and deliberately, the Lord revealed that the name of the chapter would honor Jesus as the Incarnate Wisdom; that Our Lady of Mt. Carmel would be the image of the Blessed Mother who would help guide and protect the community; that the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, would be the Marian Feast Day on which the community would have their yearly Commitment Day Ceremony; and that Love must be the foundation of all things for the MSIW. For clarity and understanding of all of this, they took on the task of reading and embracing The Love of Eternal Wisdom by St. Louis De Montfort.
In the meantime, Alicia’s background in corporate America proved to be part of God’s plan. Her many business contacts helped the MSIW file all the needed legal paperwork: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, 501 (c) 3 application, etc., and on December 13, 2006 the Marian Servants of the Incarnate Wisdom was incorporated in the State of Texas. In addition to gaining legal status to operate, the community sought approval and recognition from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. *Foundress, Diane Brown, asked Bishop Lynch, the local bishop of St. Petersburg, FL, to write a letter of introduction to Cardinal DiNardo regarding the new community chapter of the Marian Servants forming in Houston. By March 2007, the community was completely established and had been granted official permission by Cardinal DiNardo to exercise the apostolate in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
As discernment of the specific goals of the community continued, Alicia and Gina focused on how the Lord wanted to use their gifts to support the priorities of the local church. Four main areas were identified: Vocation support, Adult spiritual direction, Inner City Schools Faculty support, and fostering the formation of spiritual directors. Soon three other individuals regularly joined Alicia and Gina during their weekly prayer and formation meetings. New growth for the community began to emerge and the first ministry opportunity (outside of individual spiritual direction) was before them: Fr. Abelardo Cobos, was named Pastor at The Resurrection Parish in the Inner City. He was faced with the challenge to revitalize its parochial school. Fr. Cobos invited the Marian Servants™ to assist the Resurrection School by providing a needed faculty retreat to unite the faculty and prepare them for the task ahead. And thus began their ministry to Catholic Inner City Schools.
Encouraged by God’s faithfulness, the community presented themselves in service to others in new ways. In addition to regular one-on-one spiritual direction, the community sponsored Healing Masses, and information presentations about the community naturally followed. In August 2007, Alicia began the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in group form at her parish, St. Ignatius of Loyola. Sensing the call to move locations, the Marian Servants™ began holding their weekly meetings at Holy Name Retreat Center with the hope and intent of offering future retreats there.
Finally, with happy anticipation, the MSIW celebrated their First Commitment Day mass on March 27, 2008 at the Chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary. Alicia Goodwin and Gina Waters became the first official Full Marian Servants of the Incarnate Wisdom® along with three others who became candidates.
Since then, there has been an increase in ministry requests along with interest in the Rule of Life of the Marian Servants™. Currently, we offer individual spiritual direction, individual and group Exercises of St. Ignatius, spiritual mentorship to Catholic Inner City youth, retreats for both youth and adults, days of reflection and healing prayer. The community has also made a commitment to sponsor priests from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston who wish to attend IPF Retreats hosted by the Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence®. In all these things, the mission of the Marian Servants™ remains our focus: “to bring Christians to a deeper understanding of their vocation and mission in Christ, the Church and the world.”
*(The Marian Servants of the Incarnate Wisdom (MSIW) is a community chapter of the Marian Servants of Divine Providence®, a Private Association of the Christian Faithful of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida. It was founded in Clearwater, FL by Mrs. Diane Brown in 1987).
Marian Servants of the Incarnate Wisdom® Chapter Directors: Alicia Goodwin & Gina Waters