In 2019 the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago are celebrating their 125th anniversary. Every month we will feature history articles about the Sisters and their ministries by Sister Jeanne Marie Toriskie.
Franciscan Sisters of Chicago - 125 Years of Loving, Joyful Ministry
December 8, 1894 - December 8, 2019
by Sister Jeanne Marie Toriskie
Part One - The First Two Decades
First Profession of Vows - the Pioneer Sisters (From left to right) Sister M. Anna Wysinski, Sister M. Angeline Topolinski,
Sister M. Agnes Dzik, and Sister M. Theresa Dudzik
It was Saturday, December 8, 1894, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, in Chicago. The hearts of the four novices beat a little faster as they anticipated taking their vows as religious sisters. Rev. Vincent Barzynski, pastor of St. Stani-slaus Kostka Parish, would be receiving their vows on behalf of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In just a few minutes these four Sisters would become the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda, (later called the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago), the first religious congregation to be founded in the city.
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We are featuring some stories from people who feel Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik interceded into their lives. If you have a story to share about how Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik has interceded in your life, please email Sister Jeanne Marie Toriskie at JToriskie@chicagofranciscans.com. The Sisters retain the right to decide what is actually published on this website. We thank both Janine and Lynn for sharing their stories below:
Janine’s Story: My devotion began a while after I had read Mother Theresa's biography. Her activism resonated with me and I felt a kinship with her. I, like she, would be afraid to speak up, but when moved by the Holy Spirit, we could be extremely effective and move mountains.
After a while I just felt Mother Theresa liked me and was with me. When my mother entered St. Joseph Village, which was purely coincidental since I had no idea where to put her, I felt even closer to her and added her to my list of patron saints to whom I pray daily. This is not a certainty, but it is possibly a quiet miracle regarding my mother. She entered St. Joseph Village in Chicago after her stroke, and then was placed in skilled nursing care. She could not utter a word and received a feeding tube. Little by little my mother improved. She started to utter sounds and phrases and she was put on soft food, but needed to be fed.
One day I was going to feed her, and she stopped me and said, "No" and started to feed herself. My mother was later upgraded to Memory Support, though she still needed much attention I was able to take my mother to different places by traveling in the car. At first she told me she didn't know how to get out of the car but then one day, when it was time to get out, she opened the door! Fastening her seat belt was also an impossible task, until one day, I heard it click!
She was in Memory for about 3 years and as one aide commented, "Your mother is 'with it'". My mother would wait by the elevator for the therapist and admonish her for being late. No one had to tell my mother what time it was for Mass, lunch, bingo, and other activities. One day Debbie Self told me that she had been thinking about my mother and felt she would do well in assisted living. Debbie took the ankle bracelet off my mother. That was a dramatic moment! Debbie was right; my mother needed little care - only to put on her hose, bathing, and medicine.
I cannot prove anything, but I feel Mother Theresa Dudzik was watching over her. I still include Mother Theresa in my prayer list to patron saints and ask her to bless her house. -Janine
Lynn's story: At times I’ve asked Mother Theresa for her intercession, and to ask that God please hear and grant my requests. I received a scapular, years ago, with soil from Mother Theresa’s grave. Before any routine medical test or procedure, I say the novena prayer to her with my petition and I also always take her scapular with me. So far, she has been with me through two colonoscopies, a D&C, and a successful cataract surgery. I have also asked for Mother Theresa’s intercession when my husband was diagnosed and successfully treated for thyroid cancer in 2014, and more recently, for my sister’s breast cancer diagnosis.
Lastly, this might be the strangest request Mother Theresa’s ever gotten. I asked for her intercession when our beloved beagle, Skippy, was diagnosed with bladder cancer on Mother’s Day, 2017. We had him for an additional 16 months after he was diagnosed, and I truly believe, that along with our great veterinarian, Mother Theresa and St. Francis had a hand in keeping him with us for that long. I have been very fortunate in the blessings with my family that we have received through Mother Theresa’s intercession, and I am grateful to her. I know we don’t, and won’t, always get the answer that we hope for, but with her help, we can handle whatever God has planned for us. -Lynn
Thursday, September 20th, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Venerable Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik, foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Mother Mary Theresa was born Josephine Dudzik on August 30, 1860 to John and Agnes Dudzik in the tiny village of Plocicz in the western Poland. She was baptized and made her First Holy Communion at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Kamien Krajenski, Poland.
Read this article on ChicagoFranciscans.org