First Notebook – Notes 9-18 (for paragraphs 21-30)
9. The “superiors” could be the superior general and the directress of the postulants, for they decided whether the Saint would be admitted to the reception of the habit and so to the novitiate in Cracow.
The superior general at the time was Mother Leonard Cielecka, born December 24, 1850 in Paplin Ziemi Siedleckiej. She came from a family of landowners, and received a higher education in several languages and music. Entering the Congregation on September 1, 1885, she made her perpetual vows in Warsaw in 1893, and was given responsible positions in the Congregation at an early age. In 1908 she became superior of the house in Derdy near Warsaw. From 1912 she was superior in Warsaw, and from 1918, in Walendow. After the Congregation separated from its General headquarters in France, in 1922 at the First Chapter in Poland, she became the first Superior General of all the homes in Poland. She kept this post for 6 years; i.e., until 1928, and then became assistant to the new Superior General. She died November 1, 1933.
The directress of the postulants, Mother Jane Bartkiewicz, was born July 31, 1858. She entered the Congregation on December 10, 1877, and made her perpetual vows in Laval, France in 1885. While the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy was dependent on the General Home in France, Mother Jane was Vicar General for the homes in Poland.
She was a sturdy and energetic person, sometimes even despotic. She greatly loved the Congregation and wished its good, trying to achieve this in a way repugnant to human nature. Her relationship to candidates and the young professed was peculiarly warm and affectionate. She knew how to be tenderhearted, but at the same time her method of disciplining the sisters created an atmosphere of fear.
After finishing her term as Vicar General, she was for a time the Directress of Novices and of the third probation. For this reason she felt throughout her life that she had the privilege of correcting the young sisters. She died in Warsaw July 1 , 1 940 (A. SMDM-C and D).
10. Helen Kowalska arrived in Cracow on January 23, 1926, to finish her postulancy. That same day Sister Henry Losinska died in Cracow. Sister Henry was born on January 20, 1897. She entered the Community in 1920 and worked as a shoemaker (A. SMDM-D).
11. Sister Margaret – Anna Gimbutt, was born in 1 857 and entered the Congregation in 1893. She was of great service to the Congregation, performing the duty of Directress of Novices, superior of the house in Vilnius, and then, Instructress of the Third Probation. She was known for her spirit of self-denial, mortification, demanding much of herself. Humble, meek, always prayerful, outstanding in keeping of the rules, she was an example to the sisters, especially those who were in her care.
12. Bishop Stanislaus Rospond, born September 30, 1877, in Liszki near Cracow. After graduating from St. Ann’s High School in Cracow, he entered the Seminary for the Priesthood. After a year he was sent for further studies in Insbruck, receiving the degree of Doctor of Theology in 1 904. He was ordained priest on August 1 0, 1 901 . He became prefect of the Seminary in Cracow, and then, rector. He was the ordinary confessor of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. On June 12, 1927, he was consecrated bishop. He was Vicar General for many years. His relationship with the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy was very cordial, and he took part in all the celebrations of the Congregation. Twice a year he was the main celebrant at the clothing ceremony and profession of vows. He died February 4, 1958 and is buried in his family grave in Liszki.
13. It was clothing day – April 30, 1926. Sister Clemens Buczek recalls that she was helping the candidates put on their habits. She wrote in her memoirs: “In May [sic], 1926, I was to dress Helen Kowalska. After she received the habit at the altar, I told her, ‘Helen, let us hurry to put on your habit.’ Helen fainted. I hurried to get the smelling salts in order to revive her…. Later I used to tease her about her loathing to leave the world. I only found out after her death that the reason of her fainting was not sorrow for the world, but something else” (A. SF.Recol.).
14. Sister Mary Joseph, Stephanie Brzoza, born in 1889. She entered the congregation in 1909 and made her perpetual vows on May 15, 1917. She was a group instructor of the girls in the Cracow institute. In 1925 she was sent to the General House of the Congregation in Laval, France, to observe more closely the formation of novices and to absorb the spirit of the Congregation. After her return from Laval, she became directress of the novitiate on June 20, 1926, until October 30, 1934. She was an exemplary directress and a great discerner of souls. She was demanding, but at the same time full of motherly care and benevolence toward each novice. At the General Chapter in 1934, she was chosen to be a member of the General Council and simultaneously, superior of the Generalate in Warsaw. Five years later she died of cancer on November 9, 1 939 (A. SMDM-C and D).
15. Father Theodore Czaputa was then the confessor of the novitiate. Born in 1884, he was ordained priest July 7, 1907. He completed his theological studies at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. From 1916 he taught religion in the high schools in Cracow. Fie was then made rector of the Minor Seminary and Tribunal Judge.
From November 1 925 he was confessor of the novices of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy. Fie performed this function almost until death, and the novices had great confidence in him. Because of ill health, he was released of the duties of rector and moved to Lagiewniki to become chaplain of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. He died March 2, 1945 (A. Cracow Curia).
16. Superiors in the Congregation may command “in the name of holy obedience” only professed sisters. A novice was not obliged to obey such a command. If the directress used these words, she was relying on the good will and virtue of the novice, who by subordinating herself to the command could be relieved of these painful experiences (See Const. Congr. Art., 96-99).
17. She probably means the words of the prophet Isaiah (49:15 JB): “Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the son of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you”.
18. Some details of the text suggest that it was at the Warsaw house. The superior was Mother Raphael Buczynska. She was one of the most outstanding superiors. She distinguished herself by a clear, healthy judgment of people and things, a very practical sense, and at the same time a deep spiritual life. She loved the congregation and cared for its material and spiritual growth. In her relations to the sisters she was loving, straightforward, and discerning. She knew how to evaluate and put to use the accomplishments of each sister. She never degraded an individual, but rather tried to raise each one’s spirit, come to her aid and cheer her up. M. Raphael – Catherine Buczynska was born December 23, 1879. She entered the Congregation October 18, 1900, and died December 23, 1956 (A. SMDM-C).