This special day of Thanksgiving which was celebrated on June 2, 2019, in Warsaw for the twelfth time had a special character for us as Nazareth Sisters. It is a tradition that on this day the relics of Polish saints and blesseds are brought to the Shrine of Divine Providence, which is a National Votive Shrine. This time it was the relics of our foundress, Blessed Frances Siedliska – Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Over one hundred Nazareth Sisters from different parts of Poland and beyond participated in the ceremony. Sr. Halina Dołęga represented the General Administration. In addition to the numerous Sisters from the Warsaw Province, Sisters from the Krakow Province were present, including Councilors: Sr. Joanna Chrobak and Sr. Mariola Chojnacka, the Provincial Superior from Belarus – Sr. Maria Błaszczyk, standard-bearers from our schools in Warsaw, Kalisz and Krakow, many members of the Association of the Holy Family, young people, Nazareth friends and faithful.
THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT SHEPHERDS JOHN PAUL II AND PRIMATE STEFAN WYSZYŃSKI – this was the motto of this year’s celebration. These great Shepherds were also very much associated with our Congregation. John Paul II not only beatified our Mother Foundress, but he knew Nazareth since his childhood. In Komancza, Primate Wyszyński spent the time of his internment. There he wrote the Jasna Góra Vows of the Nation, and was freed upon his departure from Komancza.
How symbolic for Warsaw and Poland is the date of June 2, 1979. It was in this city that John Paul II during his first pilgrimage to the Homeland made a specific confirmation of the Homeland, crying: Let Your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, this earth. At the beginning of our pilgrimage of thanksgiving, in the place where these words were uttered, a fragment of the homily of the Holy Pope was repeated. Then the pilgrims were blessed by Bishop Piotr Jarecki, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Warsaw. The pilgrimage route led from Marshal Józef Piłsudski Square to the Shrine of Divine Providence.
The image and relics of Blessed Frances Siedliska, carried on the shoulders of the Sisters of Nazareth, families and representatives of various faithful groups, traversed the streets of Warsaw. The Provincial Superior, Sister Teofania Migowska, in her word to the pilgrims reminded everyone of the Blessed’s relationship with this city: “How wonderfully Divine Providence has done this, that our foundress, who loved the Church and her shepherds so much, can once again wander the streets of Warsaw. Again you ask? Yes, again. Because when she was alive, she lived in the Capital for some time. […] Frances Siedliska is the daughter of Masovian land. She was born on November 12, 1842 in Roszkowa Wola nad Pilicą to a wealthy landowning family. She spent part of her childhood and youth in Żdżary near Nowe Miasto, and some here – in Warsaw. She was the granddaughter of Józef Alekse Morawski, the main director of the Government Committee of Revenue and Treasury in Warsaw. Young Frania spent time with her family in her grandfather’s palace located at Bankers’ Square, especially during the winter months. Another place, where Frances found space for the maturing of a deep relationship with God and where her mission as the foundress of the Nazareth Sisters was probably slowly forming, is the church of St. Anthony at Senatorska Street. She was baptized there. Thirteen years later in the church of the Capuchin Fathers on ul. Miodowa, she received First Holy Communion. In the same year, in the church of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament at Nowe Miasto Square, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation. She lived for a short time at Długa Street. From her Spiritual Diary we can learn that she liked to walk in the Saski Garden. She liked to pray in the Church of the Holy Cross and in the Church of St. Aleksandra at Plac Trzech Krzyży. In the Church of the Canonesses, currently of St. Br. Albert and St. Andrew the Apostle at Teatralny Square, on July 2, 1873, she made private vows into the hands of Father Leander Lendzian, Capuchin. These are places in Warsaw that are particularly connected with her.”
The pilgrimage route was about 12 kilometers long. However, the time of wandering quickly passed. It was filled with prayer, listening to testimonies about the graces received through the intercession of Blessed Frances Siedliska and singing together. The playing of several brass band bands from different areas and regions of Poland helped keep the pace. The different orchestras were: a mining group, a group from the Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Skomielna Czarna and Bogdanówka youth highlander orchestras, and the Representative Police Orchestra. During the last part of the pilgrimage (from the Church of St. Zachariah) additional pilgrims joined from different parts of Poland, among them, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Metropolitan of Warsaw, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz from Krakow, bishops, priests, and standard-bearers. From that point onward, the relics of the saints and blessed which have already been ceremoniously introduced into the Shrine of Divine Providence in previous years were carried together with the relics of Bl. Frances Siedliska. The Holy Mass of thanksgiving, presided over by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz who also delivered the homily, was attended by many bishops and priests, including the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, representatives of the state, the government, the parliament, the senate and the city authorities. Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, in greeting, emphasized the common concern for the family that was and is present in the teaching of St. John Paul II, Servant of God Stefan Wyszyński and Bl. Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Frances Siedliska. He thanked everyone who had come, making for such a large presence.
It is a great joy and privilege that the cult of the Mother Foundress, Bl. Frances Siedliska, and the honoring of her may take place in a place of such importance for Poles. We would like to thank the Sisters of the Warsaw Province for their dream, which thanks to their joyful engagement could be fulfilled. Blessed Frances Siedliska finds herself among the saints and blessed Poles in the Shrine of Divine Providence, the Votive Shrine of the Nation.
Sr. Halina Dołęga
Photos: Sr. Joanna Cegiełko