The Sisters of St. Family of Nazareth

A new light glistened for poland on November 12, 1842, when Frances Josephine Anne Siedliska was born in Roszkowa Wola, near Warsaw,at the palatial estate of her wealthy parents, Adolph and Cecilia Siedliski. She was the off-spring of a generation of Poles who lived through the most tragic period of the history of their fatherland, the ill-fated November Insurrection of 1830. At the time many aristocratic Poles fled to France, absorbed the philosophies of Voltaire and Rousseau and returned to Poland with bad habits and no interest in religion. Although Adolph and Cecilia Siedliski were victims of this anti-religious trend, Frances was not a child of that generation. She became an apostle of religion in her home, her country and the Church.
God came into her life through a zealous capuchin, Father Leander Lendzian, who prepared her for first Holy Communion which kindled in her a burning desire to give herself completely to God. To realize this call, she struggled against the wishes of her family.

After the death of her father, Frances consecrated herself to the service of God, and recognized her mission to establish a new religious congregation in the Church. In the petition presented to Pope Pius IX on October 1, 1873, Frances described the proposed congregation as one whose members aimed to model their lives on the hidden life and virtues of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The chief purpose was total self-immolation through prayer, work and suffering offered for the intentions of the Vicar of Christ and the Church. Praying daily for the Church and the Holy Father became a time-honored tradition in the congregation she established.

In religious life, the founders took the name Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd. The early years of her congregation were very difficult but her heroic faith, confidence and love eventually triumphed. Soon with a small pioneer group of candidates, the congregation was established in Rome in 1875. The Sisters performed various apostolic services while Mother Mary directed her efforts to the formation of the spiritual life of the members of the congregation. She was guided and directed by Reverend Anthony Lechert, a learned priest who experienced the presence of Christ deeply and shared this gift with others.

After the Roman foundation in 1875, Mother Mary opened the first convent a Cracow, Poland in 1881. Her apostolic zeal led to the United States in 1885 where the congregation expanded magnificently. After numerous efforts and many difficulties, Mather Mary opened a home in Paris, France in 1891, and then in London, England in 1895. The pervasive thought and message that dominated the life of Mather Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd and in consequence her instructions, conferences, and letters was love- love of God which shows itself in active love of neighbor. To many who knew her, charity was considered her outstanding characteristic.

Gradually her labors drained her physical strength. Scarcely had she recovered from a serious illness when she began to work again. Under these superhuman efforts, she finally succumbed. Her longing for heaven was shown in the words of the psalmist: “ We shall go into the house of the Lord” and she gave her soul to God on feast of the presentation of Mary, November 21, 1902, in Rome. She bequeathed to her congregation the example of the life, the Rule, her instructions, her letters, and her last conference to the Sisters during which she spoke of her favorite subject, reciprocal charity. She was lamented not only by her 291 Sisters in twenty-nine houses on both sides of the Atlantic but also by all who knew her.

Mather Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd showed by her personal example how extend the Kingdom of God’s love. From compete immersion in God and in the fulfillment of his will she obtained her spiritual strength. Her life was synthesized in the motto,” Thy will be done”, which she chose for herself and which she gave to her Sisters. Imbued with her spirit, they fulfill her mission. Mindful that ministry to the family should be Nazareth’s particular gift to the Church, the Sisters respond to the needs of the church and world, by performing varied apostolic services, at the heart of which is the moral and religious renewal of family life. In proclaiming Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd blessed on April 23, 1989, the Church gives to the world an example of one who completely surrendered herself to the disposition of the Father following the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.