November 21 and the history of the Felician Sisters

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On the feast of the Presentation of Mary, November 21, 1855,

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Sophia Truszkowska (Mother Mary Angela)  and Clothilde, her loyal companion solemnly promised before the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa “to consecrate themselves to Her service accorinding to the will of Her Son, Jesus Christ.”

This day was later considered as the founding date of the Congragation of the Felician Sisters.

(Mother Angela, a Pictorial Life of the Servant of God Mother Mary Angela (Sophia Truszkowska) Foundress of the Felician Sisters)

The Felician Sisters celebrate with great gratitude to God for their 159 years of service to God’s people all over the world and the 140th Anniversary of the Felician Sisters coming to North America. Five very courageous Felicians left their homeland of Poland and came to a new land, new language, new culture, to begin to minister to the children and adults of North America.

The First Felician Sisters in North America

Five Felician Sisters answered the call to serve in North America. They were truly pioneers, in every sense of the word.

They came to the then small farming village of Polonia, Wisconsin—a frontier town of sorts that sat ten miles from the nearest railway station.  It was certainly a new frontier for the five Polish Sisters, knowing little more about their new venture other than they had come to serve.

But it was their singular mission—to serve God’s people wherever they were called to serve, and their dedication to the Felician mission to help bring about the spiritual renewal of the world—that propelled them. (Historic Community)

By the grace of God, on November 21, 2009, the eight North American provinces of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice (Felician Sisters) were reconfigured into one new entity under the title of Our Lady of Hope Province.

Historic Community 1855

The first Felician Sisters arrived in North America in 1874 who, in the face of daunting obstacles and often harsh conditions, pioneered a Felician legacy of compassionate service and care that has not only endured but has flourished here in North America.

We have never left the frontiers of need.”

Our community, formally known as the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Felix of Cantalice, was founded o in Poland by Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska. The Felician mission and charism, first forged at our founding in 1855, were carried to the North American frontier with our arrival here in the late nineteenth century, and embraced and fostered in a twenty-first century world with a Felician presence that continues to be both vibrant and far-reaching.

Just as Felician Foundress Blessed Mary Angela had ministered to the impoverished, the abandoned, and the marginalized on the streets of nineteenth century Warsaw, Poland, so, too, the first Sisters in North America mirrored her call to service, “giving aid to all without exception,” serving all “with a joyful heart.”

The First Felician Sisters in North America 1874

Five Felician Sisters answered the call to serve in North America. They were truly pioneers, in every sense of the word.

They came to the then small farming village of Polonia, Wisconsin—a frontier town of sorts that sat ten miles from the nearest railway station.  It was certainly a new frontier for the five Polish Sisters, knowing little more about their new venture other than they had come to serve.

But it was their singular mission—to serve God’s people wherever they were called to serve, and their dedication to the Felician mission to help bring about the spiritual renewal of the world—that propelled them.

They traveled from their Polish homeland in a 27-day odyssey that included travel aboard the steamer Ethiopia, crossing stormy seas and battling intense seasickness.

With the blessing of Blessed Mary Angela, the Sisters came to this frontier town on the American frontier at the request of Father Joseph Dabrowski, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Polonia, who saw the urgent needs facing the immigrant children and families who had settled in this town. He knew he needed help in ministering to this new population—a population with vast social and educational needs.

The influx of European immigrants into Wisconsin was emblematic of the massive waves of immigrants arriving on American shores by the late 1800’s. Father Dabrowski’s request was echoed by scores of priests and bishops in North America as they looked to the sisters to help minister to a burgeoning population.

At the schoolhouse in Wisconsin, the Felician Sisters educated the children of Polish immigrants, and soon thereafter began publishing Polish textbooks not only for their use in the classroom, but for any educator who was teaching Polish immigrant children.

The number of Felician Sisters began to rise as the influence of and need for the Sisters also began to rise.  By the early twentieth century, Felician Sisters were a significant presence across much of the U.S. in areas such as Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  By the mid-twentieth century, Felician Sisters had established a presence in Canada as well.

Serving Internationally

In many ways, we have never left the frontiers of need.

Today, we minister to those in need and serve in an array of ministries as diverse as the regions in which we serve—bringing God’s compassionate mercy and love to all we serve and to all we meet—across this continent, and around the world.

In addition to our North American province, Our Lady of Hope, Felician provinces in Europe and South America, together with Felician ministries across four continents, comprise our international community of nearly 1,800 vowed women religious. To learn more about our Sisters worldwide, please visit Felician Sisters to learn about our history.

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4 thoughts on “November 21 and the history of the Felician Sisters

  1. Helpful analysis . I learned a lot from the facts , Does anyone know where my business could possibly acquire a fillable a form copy to work with ?

  2. St. Felix’s parents were devout peasants. He was a shepherd and a ploughman. He entered the Capuchin monastery and became a lay brother. He was spoken of as “the Saint.” For his assignment, he was sent to Rome where, for forty years, he filled the post of questor, whose daily duty was to beg for food and alms for himself and for the community. For everything he gave thanks to God and the words “Deo Gratias” were so constantly on his lips that the Roman street urchins called him Brother Deo Gratias. The first Felician sisters took children, mostly orphans, they cared for to a nearby church and prayed before the statue of St. Felix. Soon the people began to call them the sisters of St. Felix or Felician Sisters. St. Felix is usually depicted holding a bag for food.

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