Tag Archives: Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

Blessed Sisters of Nowogrodek: Blessed Stella & companions

O most blessed Trinity, we praise and thank you for the example of Blessed Mary Stella and her ten companions, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who by imitating Jesus Christ, offered themselves as a
sacrifice of love.

God of mercy and compassion, through the merits of their martyrdom and by their intercession, grant us the grace we humbly ask… (insert intention here) …so that like them, we may witness with our lives to the presence of the Kingdom of God’s love and extend it to the human family throughout the world. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Martyred Sisters of Nowogródek, pray for us.

Blessed Mary Stella and her companions were authentic martyrs for the faith: they “…paid with their blood for the charity they exercised in favor of escapees, of the wounded and the sick during the terrible and uncertain days” (His Will Alone, 424).

They had engaged life as any other person does and so I thinking giving the names of the sisters keeps memory of the women, our friends, alive in our hearts. Certainly as a kid in a Nazareth school (New Haven, CT) this image of the sisters was haunting and striking. On my desk sits the commemorative coin, a gift of Sister Thaddeus of Jesus, CSFN, with the faces and names of the sisters reminding me of the gift their lives are for us.

The eleven Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth who were executed by the Nazis on August 1, 1943 were:

Sister Maria Stella, Superior (Adelaide Mardosiewicz) (1888-1943)

Sister Mary Imelda (Jadwiga Zak) (1892-1943)

Sister Mary Rajmunda (Anna Kukulowicz) (1892-1943)

Sister Maria Daniela (Eleanor Juzwik) (1895-1943)

Sister Maria Kanuta (Jozefa Chrobot) (1896-1943)

Sister Maria Gwidona (Helena Cierpka) (1900-1943)

Sister Maria Sergia (Julia Rapieg) (1900-1943)

Sister Maria Kanizja (Eugenia Mackiewicz) (1904-1943)

Sister Maria Felicyta (Paulina Borowik) (1905-1943)

Sister Maria Heliodora (Leokadia Matustzewska) (1906-1943)

Sister Maria Boromea (Veronika Narmuntowicz) (1916-1943)

The Sisters had these words in their hearts and on their lips as they gave witness to Christ and the Church: “O God, if sacrifice of life is needed, accept it from us who are free from family obligations.
Spare those who have wives and children.”

And so we pray that Blessed Mary Stella and companions intercede for us before the the Throne of Grace for us, for the Nazareth Congregation of Sisters (especially for Sister Mary Ellen Genova) and for Poland.

N.B. In many places the martyrs of Nowogródek are remembered liturgically on the day their death, August 1st. In the convents of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth today is the liturgical memorial is prayed at Mass and in the Divine Office.

Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) celebrate jubilees in the vowed life

The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) in the New
England region celebrated the jubilees of three sisters today: Sister Mary
Victoria (75 years), Sister Mary Barbara (50 years) and Sister Maryann (25
years). We also remembered Sister Jeanette who died in December and who was to
celebrated 50 years.

Msgr Bob Weiss May 23 09.jpg

The Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated by Father Jim
Meszaros (of NY) and the homilist was Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of Saint
Rose of Lima (Newtown, CT & friend of Sister Barbara); six priests concelebrated.
Sister Mary Ellen did a very nice job with the music that was selected by a
julibarian sister.

The Mass included the renewal of vows of the jubilarians.
After giving thanks for the graces of perseverance and service, the sisters
promised to continue to be faithful to Mother Foundress’ vision and spirit
cooperating with Christ and the Church as women of prayer and service. The
example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the saints were invoked
for supernatural assistance. A striking line from Blessed Mary of Jesus the
Good Shepherd were striking: “Once again I had the unmistakable evidence that
human hearts are in the hands of God, that we depend upon Him alone, and that
His Will guides the course of our lives.”

Sr Rose Thelma May 23 09.JPG

Guests from all over New England and New York and
Pennsylvania came to pray and celebrate. The Sisters had a delicious dinner for
us. I enjoyed dinner and conversation with friends and colleagues Sisters Mary
Ellen, Thaddeus, Rose, (at right) Virginette and Mary Anthony. The company was truly
delightful and the hospitality warm!

Srs Constance & Mary Ellen May 23 09.JPG

Following our midday dinner Sister Mary Ellen (in the gray habit) gave me a
gracious tour of the beautiful grounds and the CSFN heritage room. Since I love
the history of religious life and the Sisters of this congregation, I was much
happy to see how the CSFNs have labored in the Lord’s vineyard.

Sr M. Constance & PAZ May 23 09.JPG

Among the sisters at the Monroe convent are my second and
fifth grade teachers plus a few other sisters I’ve known since my grammar
school days. Sister Mary Constance is doing well for 86 (65 years in the
convent) and Sister Mary Estelle is living with Alzheimer’s and was peacefully
sleeping. I also saw Sister Hedwig at dinner.

But who are the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth
(CSFN)? In their own words they are:

CSFN arms.jpgWe,
the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, an international apostolic
Congregation, believe that the Holy Family of Nazareth, three persons in
communion with God and each other
; obedient and faithful to the will of God,
reveals to us the profound reality that God is present in the most simple and
ordinary experiences of human life
. This vision, which so captivated our
Foundress, Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances Siedliska), is the
source and inspiration for our life and service. Sharing in Jesus’ mission of
spreading the Kingdom of God’s love, we engage in a variety of ministries with
and in the Church. Mindful that it is an environment of love that persons come
to fullness of life, we witness a family spirit among ourselves, and are
dedicated to the moral and religious renewal of family life. We are committed
to create communities of love and hope, which celebrate the oneness of the
human family.

Sister Mary Veronica Grzelak, CSFN, RIP

This morning I attended the Mass of Christian Burial of Sister Mary Veronica (of the Eucharistic Face of the Lord) Grzelak. Sister Veronica was 98 years old and 83 years a professed religious sister in the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and she was my grammar school principal. The chaplain to the sisters, Father James Cole, gave a fine homily connecting the suffering and pain we suffer here, as Sister Veronica did in the last years of her life, with the suffering and pain of the Lord. That is, suffering and pain is redemptive, that is, it has real meaning if we accept it and connect it with the Lord’s suffering. Therefore we say that in connecting our trials here with someone greater than ourselves allows us not to focus on ourselves alone but on the needs and sufferings of those around us, indeed others in the world. In this case, that someone is the Jesus.

The Nazareth sisters mourn a great and brilliant woman; Sister Veronica, like all of us, was a complicated person but a loving and wildly generous woman of faith who gave a great witness to the Lord’s generosity. When I last saw Sister Veronica about 10 years ago she gave me a great big hug and kiss. On Friday, the day she died, I returned the gesture of love and thanked her. Our Christian lives are necessarily marked by gratitude or they are not really Christian.

I graduated Saint Stanislaus School (New Haven, CT) 26 years ago. I never would have thought now I would have had an adult relationship with the congregation of sisters who taught me in grammar school never mind be a part of the funeral rites of one of the sisters. Sister Veronica was 72 years old when she was my principal and continued to work for years afterward. When most people retire for active work, Sister Mary Veronica (of the Eucharistic Face of the Lord) Grzelak continued to be an icon of the generosity of the Lord.

Walking around the cemetery I noticed the names of others Nazareth sisters I knew: Sister Mary Carol, Sister Mary Rosetta, Sister Mary Eleanor, Sister Mary Joanita.

God grant them rest, peace and light!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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