My soul glorifies the Lord… for my 21 years of service in the Latin Vicariate in Nazareth. My heart is filled with great gratitude to God and to the people. To live in a place where heaven touched the earth, where the Word became Flesh is a responsibility, privilege and grace; it is a life hidden in the rhythm of everyday activities and meekness of heart, in the heart of the Church.
Thank you, Mary, for inviting me to your home through the vow of obedience, where the Word has become Flesh.
Thank you, Mary, for your open heart and the open doors of your home, where I could come and learn from you prayer, humility, hiddenness, hospitality and asking for the necessary graces for the whole world. Mary, how many times I did not know how to deal with various matters, then you came with your strength. Thank you for your love.
My heart looks back with great gratitude for every person I have met: bishops, priests, religious sisters and lay people who are not ashamed of their faith; for families who came to the church for Mass; for children running around the church with bread in their hands, because the church means home for them; for pilgrims; for the fear of war and the uncertainty about tomorrow, for frequent thinking about death, persecution and martyrdom, for people dying 30 km away, whom we can only help with prayer.
Thank you for every sister who has worked here, for every effort, struggle and hardship – for the fact that we lived together and learned the fifth Gospel – thanks be to God.
I especially thank the present community for their love, care and that I have someone to pass on this wonderful TREASURE of NAZARETH to, and I entrust you to God’s protection.
Thank you for the appreciation of our Nazareth work in the Latin Vicariate in Nazareth and the surprise offered by Mother Church.
I cannot thank you, Lord, because my words are small, please accept my prayer and teach me to thank you with my life…
Sr. Wiesława Malesa – of Jesus and his Mother
I will use the reflection of Paul VI with the excerpts from his homily given in Nazareth:
Nazareth is the school in which we begin to understand the life of Jesus. It is the school of the Gospel. Here we learn to observe, to listen, to meditate, and to penetrate the profound and mysterious meaning of that simple, humble, and lovely manifestation of the Son of God.
Here we discover the need to observe the milieu of His sojourn among us – places, period of time, customs, language, religious practices, all of which Jesus used to reveal Himself to the world. Here everything speaks to us; everything has meaning. Everything possesses twofold significance.
The lesson of silence…
The lesson of silence: may there return to us an appreciation of this stupendous and indispensable spiritual condition, deafened as we are by so much tumult, so much noise, so many voices of our chaotic and frenzied modern life. O silence of Nazareth, teach us recollection, reflection, and eagerness to heed the good inspirations and words of true teachers; teach us the need and value of preparation, of study, of meditation, of interior life, of secret prayer seen by God alone.
The lesson of domestic life
The lesson of domestic life: may Nazareth teach us the meaning of family life, its harmony of love, its simplicity and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character; may it teach is how sweet and irreplaceable is its training, how fundamental and incomparable its role on the social plane.
The lesson of work
The lesson of work: O Nazareth, home of “the carpenter’s son,” We want here to understand and to praise the austere and redeeming law of human labor, here to restore the consciousness of the dignity of labor, here to recall that work cannot be an end in itself, and that it is free and ennobling in proportion to the values – beyond the economic ones – which motivate it. We would like here to salute all the workers of the world, and to point out to them their great Model, their Divine Brother, the Champion of all their rights, Christ the Lord!
From April 28 to May 8, 2021, Sr. Alina Furczyk, Assistant General, was in Ukraine. The main purpose of the visit was to participate in the gathering of all the Sisters of the Saint Michael the Archangel Region. Eighteen Sisters came to Hajvoron to participate together in the annual meeting. Invited for the gathering was Sister Maria Santus from Warsaw who led workshops and gave lectures for the Sisters on emotions, communication and relationships. The meeting lasted from April 30 to May 4 and it was a very busy time. Benefiting from the professional help and rich experience of Sr. Maria, the Sisters had the opportunity to go deeper into their feelings and emotions, to get to know themselves better and to look at their life history and relationships in communities from a different perspective. It was also a blessed time of silence and prayer in this beautiful corner of Ukraine, and the possibility of walks and other forms of recreation brought everyone a lot of joy. Sr. Alina also shared with the Sisters her reflection on obedience as an expression of a nuptial unity with Jesus and an extremely important aspect of our Nazareth identity.
After returning from Hajvoron, there was also a meeting with the entire Regional Council on the theme of different communication styles and the challenges of communal discernment in leadership. Before the departure, Sr. Alina spent the whole day with the community from Browary celebrating Temporary-Professed Feastday with Sr. Natalia Tereszczuk. It was an opportunity to visit the botanical garden in Kiev together. Awakening to life and the beautiful nature, flowers, shrubs, trees and beautiful views of the Dnieper and nearby monasteries were the crowning moment of this beautiful time.
On April 23, 2021, the anniversary of the beatification of our Mother Foundress, a historic ceremony took place in Chiraa, Ghana. On that day, the first two Ghanaian Sisters were accepted into the novitiate: Sr. M. Angela Kissiwaa and Sr. M. Theresah Anane. Accepting the Sisters on behalf of the Congregation was Sr. Speranza Grzebielec, the general councilor responsible for the mission houses in Ghana. Sisters from the communities of Chiraa, Sunyani and Yamfo attended the ceremony.
The evening prior to the day of the Sisters’ admission into the novitiate, there was Mass celebrated on in the Sisters’ chapel, followed by the blessing of the crosses for the Novices. The Sisters spent the entire next day in silence and reflection, and at 3:30 PM the ritual of the admission to the novitiate began. These were extremely touching moments. After the celebration, during which the Sisters received white veils, vespers were prayed, followed by greetings and a joyful time of dinner and recreation.
We praise God for the gift of the vocations of our Sisters to Nazareth and for His blessing on our African mission.
We would like to share our great joy with the whole Congregation that, in Nazareth, our Sr. Wiesława was decorated by the Jerusalem Patriarchate with the Medal of the Holy Sepulcher. It is the highest distinction awarded by the Patriarchate for merits and service to the Church in the Holy Land.
The decoration ceremony took place on May 17 at the Latin Vicariate of Nazareth in the presence of Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Bp G. B. Marcuzzo, priests, employees and friends of the Vicariate. We thank Sr. Wiesława for her dedicated service and love for the Church in the Holy Land.
And a short message from the Sisters from Nazareth:
Dear Sisters and Friends,
You know from the media what the situation in Israel is, where the “new – old” conflict between Israel and Gaza has been going on for over a week now. In the currently ongoing conflict, riots between the Israeli and Arab communities also break out in other cities, including Jerusalem, Haifa and Akko, which is disturbing. Fortunately, here in Nazareth there are no such extreme clashes. We have no immediate threat from Gaza missiles. In the evenings, Arabs demonstrate in the streets, there are screams, loud noises, and various things are burned in the streets. In the evenings, people simply do not go out, so we also stay at home.
Dear Sisters and Friends, let us remain united in prayer to the Lord that the Holy Spirit may enlighten the hearts of the authorities of these countries, that they may seek understanding and wish to walk on the “paths of peace”. May our common prayer dispel the darkness of war and violence!
Greetings from Nazareth,
Sr. Christella, Sr. Wiesława and Sr. Bogusława
From May 7 to May 14, 2021, Sr. Alina Furczyk, General Assistant, together with Sr. Lucyna Fraczek, General Treasurer, were conducting visitation in our mission house in Benicassim, Spain. The visitation lasted only one week but was full of meetings. First of all, it was the time spent with the Sisters who were willing to share their experience of life and new apostolic challenges, as well as their concern as to how they can best serve God in the Spanish Church. Sr. Alina and Sr. Lucyna had the opportunity to get to know the places where our Sisters minister and meet their closest co-workers. They also participated in the meetings and prayers of groups associated with the Sisters. Spain is a country that gave birth to great saints, but also today the Church in Spain is being reborn and she operates in small but very dynamic parish groups. It is our great joy that the Sisters can spread our charism there.
From February 16 to March 10, 2021, Sr. Alina Furczyk, General Assistant, and Sr. Speranza Grzebielec, General Councilor, were in Ghana.
The Sisters visited all of our homes: in Chiraa, Sunyani and Yamfo, and both of our schools, in order to better understand the conditions and the environment in which the Sisters live and serve. During this time, in each community, the Sisters shared the Word of God and led a meeting about our charism. They also participated in the life of the communities and visited the parishes and institutions with which the Sisters are associated. They also had the opportunity to visit the poorest families with whom our Sisters work. Sr. Alina and Sr. Speranza participated in the meeting of Polish missionaries working in Ghana, which was also attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, Fr. Bishop Henryk Jagodziński. They also met with the bishops of the Sunyani and Goaso dioceses where the Sisters work. Sisters also visited the novitiate of the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit, a school run by a local Congregation and the huge Salesian school in Teme to see how other missionaries work within this reality and to understand more about the specificity of this culture.
At the end of their stay in Ghana, the Sisters also met with the Superiors of the communities, and then with all the Sisters. It was a very moving meeting where the Sisters shared the experiences of their missionary life and their understanding of the mission and their place in it. They also tried to talk about the challenges and the future of the mission in Ghana. The Postulants also shared how they see the role and mission of our Congregation in this Church.
It was a remarkably rich and beautiful time. It is our great joy that our mission in Ghana is growing and bearing such beautiful fruit.
POZZA DI FASSA
From February 12 to February 17, 2021, Sr. Angela Marie Mazzeo, Superior General, together with Sr. Amabilis Sikora, General Secretary, and Sr. Goretti Komońska, Provincial Superior, visited Pozza di Fassa. Sisters met the community of three Sisters and had the opportunity to learn about the specifics of the Sisters’ work in this very dynamically operating parish. The Sisters are dedicated to serving the local society and are close to the people and their daily affairs. The Sisters’ home is surrounded by the majesty of snow-capped mountain peaks and beautiful views which enables one to truly feel the closeness of God and to be grateful for the magnificence of the created world.
Visitation in the generalate took place from February 18 to February 24. Although the local community is closely associated with the general administration on a daily basis, the time of visitation allows a meeting in a fuller and more individual way.
From March 4 to March 18, 2021, Sr. Angela Marie Mazzeo, Superior General, together with Sr. Goretti Komońska, Provincial Superior, were in France for visitation. The Sisters visited both of our communities in Paris and Courbevoie. It was a time filled with talks and meetings with the Sisters. Both communities are very involved in serving young people and support many families in the Polish environment. The Sisters also took part in the meeting of the Holy Family Association at the Emaus Retreat Center. We hope that this beautiful mission initiated by our Mother Foundress will continue to develop.
Due to the difficult epidemiological situation, the visitation in England lasted from April 19 to May 12, 2021, longer than in other places, as the Sisters were forced to remain in mandatory quarantine for 10 days. This time Sr. Angela Marie Mazzeo was accompanied by Sr. Amabilis Sikora, General Secretary and Councilor, as well as Sr. Goretti Komońska, Provincial Superior. The Sisters in Enfield continue the mission of our Mother Foundress and strive to spread our charism in a highly culturally diverse and secularized society. Here too they try to help the local Polish community. The time spent together was full of conversation, meetings of various types and sharing in the memories of our elderly Sisters.
It all began with a photo. An old photo in which the winding road seemed to be endless. I was delighted with the expanse in this picture. And the silence. A simple photo, one of many in the album. Just as God’s Word, which falls into a broken heart, will not give you peace until you take care of it, so this image was giving me no peace, raising a desire to live in this silence and expanse someday.
When I was still a teenager, I had the desire to go on mission, shyly dreaming of serving on African soil alongside the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit. When I entered Nazareth (thirty-something years ago… ;)) I did not think that I would find the path from the photo, that I would live in a house on the steppe, on Kazakh soil, in the middle of Central Asia… Well, God fulfills dreams… in another time, another place, in other circumstances of nature. Every day I bless God for this experience – of finding Him right here – in the Eucharist, in His Word, in the people He puts on my path, and I am asking for the grace of faith and fidelity in the mission to which He has invited me.
Our Sisters came to Kellerovka at the beginning of August 2012. This was not the first home of our Congregation in Kazakhstan (previously in Karaganda and Ekibastus). Since 2013, every summer I used to come with volunteers for a month of service in one of the local parishes. But in the summer of 2017 – I stayed “for longer”… At home on the periphery of faith, human poverty, both material and spiritual – in our mission in Nazareth on the steppe.
Kazakhstan. A country in Central Asia, on the Caspian Sea, nine times larger than Poland, whose current capital is Astana. It borders Russia in the north, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in the south, and China in the east. In the years 1936-1939, by order of Stalin, about 70,000 Poles were deported to this country behind the Urals, and with them Germans, Ukrainians and Belarusians. Today, around 100 nationalities live in this land of martyrs. 70% of them are Islamites. Slightly more than 20% are Christians, of which only tens of thousands of Catholics. They speak Russian and Kazakh, they work seasonally – on thousands of hectares of fertile land rented to state-owned companies. Plain lowlands and highlands, which turn from the south into deserts, are most of the surface. In the east, along the borders, the high picturesque Altai and Tien Shan Mountains stretch. The dry, continental climate means that the lowest temperatures in winter reach -45 degrees Celsius and in summer the highest up to +40 degrees C.
The longer I stay here, in this vast expanse of steppe and fields stretching for thousands of kilometers, in this seemingly uninteresting place, I discover its countenance is full of contrasts. On the one hand – a country full of life, full of wonderful modern solutions. On the other hand, there are places where water is still drawn from wells, where there is no electricity for weeks, and where the bus stops every two days. I meet different people here, and each of them is a separate story. I listen to them with emotion, realizing how much they have suffered, intertwining their fates with the history of the nations inhabiting this country. Life is harsh here. It is hard to get a job. After the fall of communism, and with it that of the sovkhozes and kolkhozes, each family received a piece of land. Unfortunately, there was a lack of appropriate equipment and rental was very expensive, so people were not able to farm this land. Some sold their land, others leased it for cultivation in exchange for grain, flour or hay. Thanks to this, they also gained the opportunity to work for the landowners. Seasonal, poorly paid, but always work.
We live (Sr. Letancja, Sr. Zuzanna and I – Sr. Kazimiera) in a small house, similar to many in the village. But ours is unique because of the constant presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We take care of the parish community center – a “mini preschool”, we serve in the church and in the sacristy. Together with the parish priest we travel to 9 villages so that the Eucharist can be celebrated there as well. We try to prepare those who want to receive the sacraments. We visit the elderly, the sick, and often very lonely people. We lead a group of mothers in prayer, we enable our young people to participate in the Movement of Pure Hearts. What we can offer is only time, a kind word, a moment of conversation. Sometimes it is simply presence, ears open to listen and a heart to love those whom God has given us here. Regardless of nationality, skin color or language, we plant, sow and water. And we believe that God will make it grow.
I would like these few “postcards” that I will send from Kazakhstan to be my invitation to a “walk” through amazing places, to reach beyond the horizon, to admire the simplest, and certainly an invitation to meet a living church – lonely, suffering, experienced, but as beautiful and strong as flowers in the steppe.
By Sr. Kazimiera Wanat
At the beginning of 2021, on January 18, Sr. Angela Marie Mazzeo, Superior General, began her visitation in the Province of Jesus the Good Shepherd. The first home visited was in Loreto, Italy. Sr. Angela Marie went there together with Sr. Speranza Grzebielec, General Councilor. This place, so loved by our Mother Foundress, is important for our spirituality and identity also today. Prayer in the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto and the Holy House is always a great grace and blessing. The Sisters ministering in Loreto, in the silence of the House of Nazareth, embrace all the Sisters with their daily prayers. The visitation ended on January 22.
On January 24, the visitation of the Motherhouse on Machiavelli Street in Rome began. This time Sister Angela Marie was accompanied by Sister Alina Furczyk, Assistant General. It was a special meeting in the house where the presence of our Mother Foundress is so alive. It was an amazing time of encounters and a mutual strengthening in faith. Since there are in the community Sisters who have lived in this place for several decades, they willingly shared their memories about Sisters, events and the history of the house during recreation. The visitation ended on the evening on January 29.
At the end of the visitation, the Sisters prepared a wonderful gift: from March 4 to 12, each day in the Sisters’ chapel, a Mass will be offered for Sisters from all the Provinces and Region of the Congregation. In this way, the Motherhouse community desires to unite itself in prayer with all the Sisters in the Congregation and to pray for them for all the graces needed.
3/4 – General Administration and the mission homes
3/5 – Holy Family Province
3/6 – Most Holy Name of Mary Province
3/7 – Most Holy Name of Jesus Province
3/8 – Holy Spirit Province
3/9 – Jesus the Good Shepherd Province
3/10 – Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek Province
3/11 – Mary of Nazareth Province
3/12 – St. Michael the Archangel Region