Welcome to the Manresa Caravan website. Manresa Caravan is part of the International Order of Alhambra, a Catholic fraternal organization of men and women dedicated to the cognitively impaired. Here in Northville, Michigan.
Manresa Caravan #217 was formed in the fall of 1976 by a group of Sir Nobles that wanted to reach out to a new community, Northville, Michigan.
The Name Manresa
In the annals of Jesuit history there is no more famous name than that of Manresa. It is a city in the north of Spain and it is the capitol of the Comarca de Barges region in the middle of Catalonian Spain, about three miles north of Montserrat, where St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order, spent ten months in a cave doing penance for his past sins and contemplating the truths of his faith. The record of these months of intense communication through prayer with God, are contained in the book, which he wrote during this experience, The Spiritual Exercises. This book is the foundation or basis of the entire Jesuit Order, it’s government and it’s spirituality.
Ignatius of Loyola lived in a cave at Manresa after his conversion. It was here that he gave himself through fasting and prayer completely to God—and God obviously gave Himself to Ignatius in a singular way. He experienced visitations from God and the Blessed Virgin Mary during this experience, which confirmed him in his total dedication to his God and his Church throughout the rest of his life.
The book of The Spiritual Exercises which is a mere outline for a retreat expressing in capsule form the heart and soul of the Jesuit Apostolate has become the model for the retreat movement throughout the world. For over 400 hundred years this tiny book has exerted its’ influence upon Jesuits and laymen alike in the formation of their spirituality. Pius XI said of this book, “It has converted to a new life more souls than there are letters in the words of this book.”
Manresa is where the Jesuit Order began! Manresa is a name that Catholics throughout the world remember as the place where God did wondrous things to Ignatius of Loyola in his native country of Spain. Manresa is in a very true sense the birthplace of the Jesuit Order, the Society of Jesus.
The International Order of Alhambra
The International Order of the Alhambra was founded by William Harper Bennett on 29 February 1904 in New York. It was named after the Alhambra, a Moorish palace in Grenada, Spain; where the Moors, after occupying Spain for almost 800 years, surrendered to the Catholics in 1492. Members are grouped in units designated “Caravans,” with a name of Moorish origin. The Order is identified by the emblem and we are identified by the white fez we wear. It is through the Caravan that most of the funds are collected and charitable work done, inspired by the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, patron Saint of our Order, which tells us that “it is in giving that we receive.”
The three major purposes of the order are: to assist and provide means to further the cause of the handicapped and developmentally disabled; to commemorate Catholic historic places, persons or events of international significance; and to promote social and fraternal association among its members.
The Order of Alhambra provides direct financial assistance and service through programs/projects that support institutions or organizations dedicated to private schools educating cognitively impaired children and providing them with vocational skills. We also support Scholarships to prospective teachers of persons developmentally disabled.
At Manresa Caravan, we provide assistance to local special education school programs and groups. We actively support Northville Old Village Schools; St Louis Center; Special Olympic; Community Oppority Center, Cass Corridor Group, St. Francis Camp and more. This year we helped send over 2700 cognitively impaired people and their caretakers to the Shriner’s Circus and sent 127 people on a dinner cruise down the Clinton River this fall. We hold annual Christmas Parties for our kids with entertainment and gifts and pictures with Santa. We are blessed with the opportunity to provide hands-on assistance to god’s special children – a true demonstration of our faith – and we have fun doing it!