The Apostolic Annunciades The present five congregations grew out of the foundation by Peter Jacobus De Clerck (1742-1831) in Veltem near Leuven in Belgium. This parish priest was particularly concerned about the poor. With some young women, he started a 'school of mercy' in 1787 with the aim of giving Christian education and upbringing to 'poor children of the people' and caring for the sick and poor. His commitment and his great pastoral care were borne of a deep inner attachment to the Holy Trinity. When the community was recognised as a religious congregation in 1833, in addition to the statutes of their founder, the sisters received the Rule of St Joanna of France and from then on were called Annunciades. This Rule is based on the evangelical texts about Mary. Saint Johanna invites the sisters to look at Mary and live 'like her'. Charity in thought, speech and action is her golden rule to promote unity and peace in the living and working community. The sisters of the five congregations in Belgium: Veltem, Itterbeek, Huldenberg, Berchem and Heverlee are engaged in many forms of service, in education and care of the sick, in faith support for young people and adults, in care for the hurting and poor, in catechesis and parochial work. Apostolic Annunciates are present in Guatemala. The Annunciate Sisters of Heverlee are also present in Congo, Cameroon, Burundi and Rwanda. There they work with the local population on evangelisation and in many forms of service, education and care of the sick.
The fraternity is open to any lay person who wants to give an evangelical and Marian dimension to his or her life according to the charism of St Joan. The members live this 'fraternity' in communion with the monastics or apostolic annunciates of Heverlee, in Belgium and in Africa. The fraternity members meet in regular meetings. They share each other's joys and sorrows, they support each other to live evangelically and, above all, they want to work for peace and reconciliation.
The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary or simply called 'Annunciates' is a contemplative Order. It was founded in Bourges (France) in 1500 by Saint Joan of France (1464-1505), daughter of Louis XI. This Order was widespread in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and England. Now there are monasteries in France, Poland and Costa Rica.