In 1975, Fr. Francis Marino met Barbara Brennan and invited her to a liturgical program he was conducting in Portland, Maine. On December 8, 1975, Barbara joined him in Corning, New York, where Father was chaplain for a group of Mercy Sisters. Barbara became his first faithful collaborator, putting “flesh” on his vision and spirit. In 1979, we began to identify our new community with the name “Anawim,” the “poor of God.” Our charism is helping people grow in their spiritual lives.
We were originally located at St. Mary’s House of Prayer. The Community served as the center for charismatic prayer groups of the Southern Tier of New York and the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. In 1984 when the convent was needed for use by the parish, the Anawim Community Center moved to 122 East First Street in Corning, its present location.
We first ministered to single lay persons, but soon married couples with families, as well as single parents, came seeking both spiritual and practical guidance for their lives. From the beginning Community members have served as Eucharistic ministers to the sick and homebound in the area and offered food, shelter and other assistance to the homeless, the unemployed, and others in various stages of need. We also offered retreats, spiritual counseling, a house of hospitality, hospital and prison ministry, plus Life in the Spirit Seminars, Marriage Courses, and True Devotion Seminars.
There was steady development over the years. We grew in numbers and began to seek sponsorship for our seminarians. In 1984, through the guidance of Mary, we were led to establish another Center of Anawim in the diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, which had been consecrated to the Queenship of Mary. In 1995, Bishop Edward T. Hughes erected the Anawim Community as a Public Association of the Faithful in the Diocese of Metuchen. The Decree states that the Anawim mission is “to reflect the spirit of the ‘poor of God’ who live in total dependence upon Him, through situations the world considers impossible, and in so doing foster a deeper interior life in response to the Church’s call to holiness.”
In 1992, at the invitation of the Vicar General to Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Archdiocese of Manila, Barbara Brennan and Carol Vaccariello went to the Philippines to begin our Community there. In 2001, Fr. Daniel Healy, Director of the Anawim Community, was ordained by Bishop Jesus Cabrera of the Diocese of Pangasinan for service to the Community.
A Shrine of Our Lady of the Liturgical Life and a new Community Center was completed in 2003 in Las Piñas City, Philippines, which includes a residence for the formation of seminarians. The Center also supports one of our primary ministries in this poverty-stricken area, to provide training and the sacraments to those in the most remote locations.
In 2005 a prayer center, Our Lady of the Liturgical Life Retreat House, opened in Oxford, NJ. The center is a place of prayer, private retreats and spiritual direction.
We look forward to the future and to wherever and however the Lord leads us.