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Nazareth<br />


THE HOLY<br />




PROVI<strong>NC</strong>E<br />

// VOL 18 //<br />

// NO 1 //<br />

SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



Mother Foundress:<br />

Disciple of Hope<br />



PROVI<strong>NC</strong>IAL SUPERIOR<br />

Dear Friends of Nazareth,<br />

What is it you are hoping for this day or at this time in your<br />

life? Is it employment or financial stability? Perhaps you are<br />

hoping for good medical results, reconciliation with another<br />

person, peace in the world, in families, and among all people,<br />

or that the faith you treasure carries on in your family.<br />

Hope for today’s world mirrors that of the people of the<br />

early Church, and St. Paul urged them, “Rejoice in hope,<br />

endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)<br />

What does that mean? Though the early Church was<br />

undergoing unspeakable persecution, St. Paul tells them to<br />

rejoice in hope — that is, to look to the Paschal Mystery<br />

where darkness, pain, and death transform into light,<br />

strength, and life. The power of Jesus’ Resurrection is our<br />

hope. As Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, rooted in<br />

Christ, we strive to build communities of love and hope,<br />

reaching out to serve families that hunger for the Lord’s<br />

presence. In the spirit of our Foundress, Blessed Mary of<br />

Jesus the Good Shepherd, we work throughout the world<br />

to be a sign to others that Christ has come. We work to<br />

keep the flame of Jesus’ Resurrection alive, the flame of<br />

trust in a future full of hope.<br />

With hope, anything is possible because strength from<br />

within us motivates us to fulfill our dreams for a better<br />

future. Without hope, nothing is possible, because the<br />

absence of inner strength clouds our vision and impairs our<br />

progress. The dawn of each day shows us repeatedly within<br />

darkness, there is always hope. The light of a new day always<br />

brings new light with new opportunities to do good. Hope<br />

reigns if we persevere with confidence in God’s grace that<br />

pours into our hearts as we ask for guidance in prayer and<br />

humble petition for strength and courage.<br />

With the Easter season we are celebrating, we are given<br />

an even closer look at how the power of hope serves as a<br />

reminder within the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we<br />

can overcome even the greatest of life’s trials. How our faith<br />

grows when we witness the forgiveness Jesus gives Peter<br />

and his other disciples when we understand the extension<br />

of his generosity to those who have faltered! Jesus'<br />

sustaining power guides us back to God every time!<br />

In this issue of Nazareth Connections, you will find a<br />

reflection of hope written by Sister Michele Vincent Fisher,<br />

CSFN and first shared with our Associates of the Holy<br />

Family in 2018. Questions of what hope is and how it affects<br />

what we value, what we do with our lives, how we see<br />

ourselves, and how it impacts our relationships are<br />

addressed in the light of our Mother Foundress who<br />

possessed this blessing of hope herself. A reflection<br />

on the Transforming Grace initiative our sisters have<br />

chosen to follow and uphold over this next year is<br />

also included.<br />

As you read more about our ministry at Nazareth<br />

Retreat Center in Texas, I want to call your attention<br />

back to the home we find in the spirit of Nazareth,<br />

where inspiration and holiness are celebrated, where<br />

our journeys of healing are strengthened by the light of<br />

Christ, and explorations of spiritual care are embraced<br />

through the many opportunities our sisters encounter.<br />

As we continue to celebrate the Resurrection and<br />

move into Ordinary Time, let us ask God to guide us<br />

to the path that leads to Him, to guide us to rejoice in<br />

hope through moments of new life, of suffering, of loss,<br />

and of boundless joy. May our hearts overflow with<br />

gratitude, patience, strength, and peace as we strive to<br />

live our faith, keenly aware of our shortcomings yet<br />

rejoicing in the Risen Lord who is with us until the end<br />

of time.<br />

In the Holy Family,<br />

Sister Kathleen Maciej<br />


VOLUME 18 //<br />

NUMBER 1 //<br />

SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />

Nazareth Connections is published<br />

three times a year by the Sisters of<br />

the Holy Family of Nazareth<br />

in the USA.<br />

Editor:<br />

Emily Dillon<br />

Contents<br />

FAITH<br />

4 Rediscovering the Spirit of<br />

CSFN In An Antique Store<br />


6 Mother Foundress:<br />

Disciple of Hope<br />

11 Transforming Grace<br />

13 Nazareth Retreat Center<br />


16 Faith and Family Intertwined<br />

18 Prayer Remembrance Program<br />

19 Support Our Sisters<br />

Sister Kathleen Maciej.<br />

Sister Duyen Nguyen, FMSR at the end<br />

of her private retreat at NRC.<br />

Sister Gabriela Duszynska at the<br />

Midwest Jubilee celebration.<br />

Top of the Empire State Building Quill<br />

& Scroll meeting in New York City, 1950.<br />


We invite you to pray with us, to listen to God’s call with us, and to<br />

love with us as we strive to recognize God in ordinary experiences.<br />

Learn more about our community life, our ministries, and our mission at<br />

nazarethcsfn.org/about-us. Contact Sister Emmanuela Le, CSFN, National<br />

Vocation Director, at 682-203-967 or vocations@nazarethcsfn.org.<br />

Proofreaders:<br />

Sister Angela Szczawinska<br />

Sister Mary Ellen Gemmell<br />

Katherine Barth<br />

Sister Lucille Madura<br />

Amanda Giarratano<br />

Province Communications Committee:<br />

Sister Mary Ellen Gemmell<br />

Sister Angela Szczawinska<br />

Amanda Giarratano<br />

Katherine Barth<br />

Heidi Scheuer<br />

Sister Emmanuela Le<br />

Sister Marcella Louise Wallowicz<br />

Sister Michele Vincent Fisher<br />

Sister Rebecca Sullivan<br />

Design/Print:<br />

McDaniels Marketing<br />

Questions, comments, suggestions?<br />

Please contact:<br />

Communications Department<br />

Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth<br />

310 N. River Road<br />

Des Plaines, IL 60016<br />

(847)298-6760, x144<br />

communications@nazarethcsfn.org<br />

nazarethcsfn.org<br />

facebook.com/csfn.usa<br />

instagram.com/csfn.usa<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />


FAITH<br />

From Discarded to Hallowed<br />


By Emily Dillon<br />

“In my quest to find a cross to wear publicly to express my<br />

faith in God, I did not imagine I would find one so special.”<br />

Lisa Voss started searching for a cross she could wear<br />

around her neck and was led to a local antique and jewelry<br />

store managed by her friend Lorie. She wanted it to be a<br />

source of comfort, protection, and grace, but when looking<br />

through her stock of religious jewelry, none of the items<br />

felt right. Lorie assured Lisa she would look at a jewelry<br />

show she was going to and found a cross with Latin<br />

inscriptions on both sides in a bin of what she described<br />

as “junk” silver. She texted Lisa back immediately that it<br />

looked old and may have belonged to a priest, but when<br />

Lisa started researching the Latin phrases, she came across<br />

an article by Sister Marcella Louise Wallowicz that proved<br />

the cross had at one time belonged to a Sister of the Holy<br />

Family of Nazareth.<br />

“If you believe in Christ and His messages to us in the<br />

Gospels, then there is always hope in life eternally with<br />

Him,” Lisa said. “Like the CSFN cross, we can get lost in<br />

the ‘junk’ pile of worldliness, but God always wants us back.<br />

When you are lost and too weak to find your way, there is<br />

hope when you acknowledge your weakness and pray for<br />

God to give you strength to follow His commands.”<br />

Lisa converted to the Catholic faith when she was 18 years<br />

old. She had attended Baptist church services every week<br />

with her parents until one day her high school boyfriend<br />

asked her to attend a Catholic Mass with him and his<br />

family. “I was not sure what to expect, but that day changed<br />

my life forever. I was used to a simple church service with a<br />

lengthy sermon and a few hymns, but that day I worshiped<br />

in an atmosphere of candles, incense, stained glass, and<br />

statues,” Lisa said. “People genuflected and kneeled and<br />


“If you believe in<br />

Christ and His<br />

messages to us in the<br />

Gospels, then there<br />

is always hope in life<br />

eternally with Him,”<br />

-Lisa Voss<br />

“My search for the right cross led me home to<br />

my own jewelry box. It seemed I had overlooked<br />

my small, gold cross that my parents gave me for my<br />

confirmation 35 years ago,” Lisa said. “In addition, I<br />

had a Miraculous Medal that had also been given to<br />

me for my confirmation by a seminarian who helped<br />

me during my RCIA process. My patron saint was<br />

Catherine Labouré, the saint of converts and the<br />

visionary of the Miraculous Medal.”<br />

Lisa took the cross and the Miraculous Medal to Lorie,<br />

who helped her find a long silver chain for them. While<br />

Lisa now wears them every day, the CSFN cross has<br />

been returned home.<br />

“It makes me happy to think a sister received this<br />

cross after professing her vows.”<br />

knew all the responses. When it came time to receive the<br />

Eucharist, I was told to remain seated. Later, I found out<br />

Catholics believe the Eucharist to be the body, blood, soul,<br />

and divinity of Christ.”<br />

When the Mass ended, Lisa knew she was a Catholic at<br />

heart, but out of respect for her parents, she waited four<br />

years to tell them she was going to convert. She continued<br />

to attend Baptist services with them, but searched for any<br />

Catholic literature she could find and looked forward to<br />

occasional visits to Mass with her boyfriend. During Lisa’s<br />

first semester at college, she started RCIA classes and<br />

was confirmed in the spring of 1989. Her parents attended<br />

and were supportive of her decision, and ten years after<br />

attending her first Mass, her high school boyfriend became<br />

her husband.<br />

Now working as a librarian, she finds reward in helping<br />

people find and access information they need, whether<br />

it is filling out a job application or researching health<br />

information for a medical problem. Though Lisa has often<br />

been confronted with evil in people, books, and the<br />

internet, she is currently trying to stand up to the culture<br />

of death and evil.<br />

The profession cross found in an antique shop and later<br />

returned to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



Mother Foundress:<br />

Disciple of Hope<br />

By Sister Michele Vincent Fisher, CSFN<br />

Editor’s note: In October 2018, Sister Michele Vincent Fisher, CSFN shared this reflection with our Associates of the Holy<br />

Family. At the end of this piece are questions prepared by Sister Michele to draw you deeper into reflecting on what hope<br />

means for you.<br />

What is hope?<br />

Hope is a curly red-haired little orphan singing, “The sun’ll come out, tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that<br />

tomorrow, there’ll be sun.” 1 Hope is a caterpillar that asks, “How do I become a butterfly?” and a butterfly that<br />

responds saying, “When you want to fly so much that you’re willing to give up being a caterpillar!” 2 Wikipedia<br />

tells us hope is an “optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes.” Merriam-Webster<br />

tells us hope means “to cherish a desire with anticipation; to want something to happen or be true.” Scripture<br />

tells us hope is “a strong and confident expectation; a trust in what is yet unseen.”<br />

A frail little girl kneels below a large picture of the Czarna Madonna (Our Lady of Czestochowa) and looking<br />

confidently at Our Lady, she cries, “Be my Mother!” 3 Young Frances Siedliska, thinking her own mother is close<br />

to death, makes an act of hope and entrusts herself to the Mother of God, confident her heartfelt prayer will be<br />

answered. Anyone who asks, receives!<br />

Surely you can look at the context of your own life and recall a time when you made your own act of hope<br />

— as you birthed a child or watched a beloved parent, friend, or spouse take their final breath; as you sat on<br />

your living room couch waiting for your teenager when he or she missed curfew; as you stood in line at the<br />

unemployment office or waited anxiously in the doctor’s office for test results. While hope often comes in the<br />

midst of trouble and suffering, it also comes in moments of joy and peace — the first rays of the sunrise, a baby’s<br />

first steps, a conversation where someone really listened, the smell of freshly baked bread or brewed coffee, or<br />

snowflakes gently accumulating on your windowsill. Hope is so powerful and yet so elusive!<br />


What can be said of Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good<br />

Shepherd, our beloved Foundress, whose entire life<br />

seemed to be one great act of hope after another? In<br />

her own words, she states, “Follow Jesus, seek Him,<br />

contemplate Him, ask Him for all you need: then —<br />

expect, believe and hope. Love Him ever more. Live for<br />

Him, work for Him, and implore Him to live and act in<br />

you. This is really living your life to the full! Affirm over<br />

and over again your dedication to Him… Only interior<br />

union with Him and true abandonment to His will<br />

alone can bring you peace, happiness, fulfillment and all.”<br />

(Letter 34 to Mother Raphael, January 1884) 4<br />

Hope is never a static or passive thing — it is active,<br />

dynamic, directive, and life sustaining. It doesn’t leave us<br />

idle, drifting, or directionless. Hope does not disappoint,<br />

but it puts us on the path of life and yields results for<br />

those who are ready to risk.<br />

Mercy of God. It took an act of hope for Mother to<br />

finally say, “It is futile to dwell on one’s misery and spiritual<br />

poverty, rather, one needs to strive for love and perfection<br />

in spite of them.” 6<br />

Hope changes what we value.<br />

The gospel of Matthew proclaims, “Do not lay up for<br />

yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust<br />

destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up<br />

for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor<br />

rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;<br />

for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”<br />

(Matthew 6:19-21)<br />

Hope changes how<br />

we see ourselves.<br />

From the time Mother Foundress was a child, she<br />

recognized a certain sadness in her soul. While<br />

materially, she had the benefits of wealth and societal<br />

privilege, she remained unfulfilled, incomplete. The day<br />

the brown-robed Capuchin monk, Father Leander, paid<br />

an unexpected visit to her family home, hope walked<br />

through the door and into her restless heart. “Would<br />

you like to learn how to love Jesus?” 5 The question was<br />

seared into her heart and ignited a flame that would last<br />

her entire life. From that moment on, Jesus was her one<br />

and only desire and His holy will was her only aim. Upon<br />

receiving Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion,<br />

young Frances made sure her heart would forever be<br />

the abode of this dear guest of her soul.<br />

Frances saw herself in all her weakness, temptation,<br />

and misery and she worried about offending Jesus,<br />

concerned he might leave her soul. In her confessions,<br />

she didn’t seem to mention fear of the fires of hell or<br />

punishments — only fear about offending the God who<br />

gave His entire life for her and who took up residence in<br />

her soul despite all her sinful ways. The loss of His love<br />

would be the greatest tragedy of her life. Even though<br />

for many years she struggled to understand the fullness<br />

of God’s love, hope helped her to come to believe in the<br />

mind of God, she was the object of His love and mercy.<br />

Hope taught her to entrust her whole self to the Divine<br />

Sisters pray before the Blessed Sacrament the night before<br />

First Profession in August 2023.<br />

Sister Cathy Fedewa with the statue of Blessed Mary of Jesus<br />

the Good Shepherd at the provincialate in Des Plaines.<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



As Mother Foundress grew in her relationship<br />

with Jesus, she renounced her wealth and worldly<br />

allurements. During this time of great trial in her life,<br />

she tried to make it clear that she was not rejecting<br />

the love of her family, nor did she attempt to persuade<br />

them to adopt her ways. Even when members of<br />

her family, especially her own father, persecuted her<br />

and referred to her as a “religious fanatic” or “overly<br />

scrupulous,” she always defended her love and respect<br />

for them. 7 Often, when we hear the word “renounce,”<br />

we equate it to the word “reject.”<br />

Renounce is to re-announce — to see and experience<br />

something in a new light. What young Frances was<br />

doing was holding up her life in light of her deepening<br />

relationship with Jesus and re-announcing what was<br />

of greater value to her. This, of course, did not happen<br />

instantly or overnight. Her efforts were clumsy at<br />

times and embroiled her in many a family argument or<br />

reduced her to painful tears and even physical illness<br />

and suffering. Many trips to the confessional resulted<br />

in renewed efforts to understand her changing values<br />

and the prominent place of her relationship with Jesus<br />

above and beyond all else in her life. Hope encouraged<br />

her to stay the course, to live into the mystery of her<br />

call even when the path ahead of her was dark and<br />

filled with obstacles.<br />

Hope affects what we do<br />

with our lives — our time,<br />

talent, and treasures.<br />

The Christian life, if it is grasped according to God’s<br />

truth, is a magnificent obsession with an eternal hope,<br />

a hope that does not lead to an escapist attitude, but<br />

to the pursuit of life on a whole new dimension. We<br />

measure the potential of this life as stewards of God.<br />

It gives us power to live courageously, to be all God<br />

has called us to be in Christ. Blessed Mary of Jesus<br />

the Good Shepherd spent her adolescence and young<br />

adult years developing her interior life. Through times<br />

of lengthy and serious illness that caused her family<br />

to relocate to places throughout Europe in search<br />

of a more suitable environment, Mother Foundress<br />

stayed faithful to her commitment to love Jesus and<br />

to seek His will for her life. It was nothing out of the<br />

ordinary, yet God was performing the extraordinary<br />

in her soul, preparing her for what would become<br />

her life’s mission. At age 32, Frances Siedliska allowed<br />

this ever-growing hope to come to fruition and she<br />

became not only a vowed religious but also set out<br />

on a path to found a new religious congregation. She<br />

did not do this of her own will, but always under the<br />

direction of those God placed on her path to manifest<br />

His will. She placed this new creation at the feet of<br />

the Vicar of Christ and would proceed only with the<br />

Church’s support and affirmation. Mother presents<br />

herself honestly and unequivocally. She recognizes<br />

God’s action of grace and loves all the more humbly<br />

and ardently. With the great St. Paul in his letter to<br />

the Romans, surely Mother foundress could proclaim,<br />

“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has<br />

been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,<br />

who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)<br />

Instead of taking the path of personal devotion<br />

and interior holiness, Mother Foundress’ entire life<br />

becomes a public manifestation of the work of grace<br />

in her soul, and through her full gift of self to God, the<br />

Church and the world are enriched with the spirit<br />

of Nazareth.<br />

Certainly, you and I are not necessarily called to such<br />

a large-scale project, but nonetheless, each of us is<br />

called to radical conversion. Radical means “from<br />

the root.” If we are faithful to the invitation of God<br />

to entrust our entire life to Him, then each of us, in<br />

our own way, leaves an indelible mark on the world<br />

around us. Imagine if we could see for just a fleeting<br />

moment the impact of our daily choices and actions<br />

on the world around us. What would we see?<br />

Hope impacts relationships.<br />

One of the greatest struggles we face today is the<br />

ability to have healthy, sustainable, and life-giving<br />

relationships. Mother Foundress herself, although<br />

materially wealthy, struggled with a mother who was<br />

emotionally distant and physically ill most of her life,<br />

having to relate to various governesses and teachers<br />

who came to reside with the family. She also had<br />

to deal with the anger and frustration of her father,<br />

who rejected her religiosity and couldn’t understand<br />

her rejection of all that society could have afforded<br />

her. Childhood friends were few. When given the<br />

opportunity to befriend Jesus, love began to blossom<br />

in her heart. Placing her hope in the Lord, Frances<br />


learned how to see and love others through the lens of<br />

Christ. In her own words, she states, “The affection we<br />

entertain for one another must have its foundation in God<br />

and must lead to an ever greater and deeper union with<br />

Him.” (Letter 1 to Mother Gabriel, 1877) 8 With this<br />

premise guiding her relationships, she was able to give<br />

fully of herself while at the same time maintaining places<br />

in her heart that were for God alone. Like our Blessed<br />

Mother, her heart was pierced with many sorrows,<br />

but she pondered these things in her heart and shared<br />

them only with her confessor or spiritual director. She<br />

knew how to set clear boundaries, yet still enjoyed<br />

deep relationships. Mother Foundress had no need to<br />

manipulate or control others or to persuade them to<br />

need her. She was free to enjoy each person for who<br />

they were. Her advice?<br />

“Do not try to appear masterful before the Lord, but aim<br />

to be a child of His love. Argue less, analyze less; love more,<br />

love ardently; rather, pray for the gift of love.” (Letter 15 to<br />

Mother Joanne 1881) 9<br />

“Strive for peace, meekness and also forbearance with<br />

oneself and others; not a forbearance that justifies<br />

wrongdoing, but a gentleness that is serene and humble.<br />

Instead of being angered by detecting another’s or one’s own<br />

faults, let your soul not be perplexed, but turn to the Lord<br />

with deep humility, apologize, acknowledge your failures and<br />

proceed hopefully, cheerfully, starting each day anew. It is a<br />

recognized secret of the spiritual life to be able to convert<br />

one’s failures to the soul’s advantage, namely to humble<br />

oneself positively, radically, within the very depths of the soul.<br />

The Lord loves such souls, and in His incomprehensible love,<br />

he accepts their childlike trust, simplicity and love.” 10<br />

The blessings of hope.<br />

Living in hope is a tall order! The great St. Augustine<br />

tells us, “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names<br />

are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and<br />

Courage to see that things do not remain as they are.” 11<br />

Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd possessed<br />

this kind of hope — a hope that engenders courage, a<br />

hope that can work past the anger and frustration of<br />

present realities, and a hope that transforms from within.<br />

The blessing of this kind of hope produces joy and peace<br />

in the midst of swirling chaos and uncertainty. It offers<br />

protection under God’s watchful eye and sheltering<br />

wing when we turn to Him in trust. It engenders<br />

strength, courage, and boldness in the face of fear and<br />

doubt. It gives us confidence in the ministry we are<br />

called to perform and ultimately it gives us comfort and<br />

confidence in the face of death. Mother Foundress lived<br />

this kind of hope and encourages us to embrace life with<br />

this same Gospel hope.<br />

“And the day came when the risk to remain the same was<br />

greater than the risk to change… it is after all the only hope<br />

for the cocoon to become a butterfly!” 12<br />

Sisters Marietta Osinska, Edyta Krawczyk, Ellen Zak,<br />

Ronald Wlodarczyk, and Barbara Ann Medvesky enjoy<br />

a moment of fun at the Province National Assembly<br />

in 2018.<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



Questions for<br />

Reflection & Sharing<br />

1. What do you dwell on in the depths of<br />

your heart?<br />

2. What causes unrest within your spirit?<br />

3. What do you need to turn over to the infinite<br />

Mercy of God?<br />

4. How does hope help you to see yourself and<br />

your life differently?<br />

5. Have you ever renounced (“re-announced”)<br />

something in your life — a relationship, a way of<br />

thinking or acting, a pattern of behaving, or an<br />

attachment to things?<br />

6. What did it cost you, personally? How did it<br />

affect your personal freedom?<br />

7. How did it give you hope and draw you more<br />

deeply into God’s love?<br />

8. Can you identify in your own life something<br />

that has shifted within you as you look at your<br />

choices, behaviors, decisions, and activities in<br />

light of the “eternal” and not only this passing<br />

world?<br />

9. What would you like to do differently?<br />

10. Consider your most significant and<br />

impactful relationships. What sustains<br />

these relationships? What tests or<br />

jeopardizes them?<br />

11. Where is Christ in your relationships?<br />

12. What do you need to mend?<br />

13. What is the risk you are being called to take<br />

today? Is it a leap of faith or just a few baby<br />

steps in the right direction?<br />

14. Where is God in the midst of this call?<br />

15. What is the next “right thing” you need<br />

to do?<br />

16. What hope do you hold onto as you look<br />

toward the future?<br />

1 McArdle, A. (1977). “Tomorrow.” Theme song from the musical “Annie.”<br />

2 Paulus, Trina (1972) “Hope for the Flowers” Paulist Fathers.<br />

3 Siedliska, Frances (Mother Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd) (1997)<br />

“Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd: An Autobiography” Sisters of the<br />

Holy Family of Nazareth, Pittsburgh, PA.<br />

4 Siedliska, Frances (Mother Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd) (1976)<br />

“Counsels from the Heart: Extracts from the Intimate Letters of Spiritual<br />

Guidance and Religious Formation” Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.<br />

Rome, Italy.<br />

5 Ibid.<br />

6 Winowska, Maria (2000) “Journey of The Soul of Frances Siedliska, Foundress<br />

of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.”<br />

7 Siedliska, Frances (Mother Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd) (1997)<br />

“Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd: An Autobiography” Sisters of the<br />

Holy Family of Nazareth, Pittsburgh, PA.<br />

8 Siedliska, Frances (Mother Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd) (1976)<br />

“Counsels from the Heart: Extracts from the Intimate Letters of Spiritual<br />

Guidance and Religious Formation” Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.<br />

Rome, Italy.<br />

9 Ibid.<br />

10 Ibid.<br />

11 Saint Augustine of Hippo.<br />

12 Paulus, Trina (1972) “Hope for the Flowers” Paulist Fathers.<br />



Transforming Grace INITIATIVE<br />

By Sister Mary Ellen Gemmell<br />

The title “Transforming Grace: The Work of<br />

Transformative Justice” caught my attention immediately<br />

when our Assistant Director of Communications, Sister<br />

Angela Szczawinska, sent me the LCWR information<br />

about it. Without initially reading the description, I took<br />

time to recall the definition of “grace” as defined in<br />

the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The gift of the<br />

Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us … to associate with<br />

His work … to enable us to collaborate.” As a child, I<br />

learned grace enlightens our minds and strengthens our<br />

wills. That memory prompted me to dig deeper into the<br />

LCWR call.<br />

I spent time thinking about “transforming”; that is, “lifechanging<br />

experiences of conversion” that are already a<br />

part of my life and the lives of others. Intrigued by the<br />

subtitle, “The Work of Transformative Justice,” I read<br />

the LCWR invitation, which encompasses prayerful<br />

consideration and actions that aim to bring about peace,<br />

centering on skills that can lead to sound decisionmaking<br />

throughout our election process in the USA.<br />

Hope, confidence, trust, and joy flooded my mind as I<br />

studied the details of this LCWR initiative. I knew from<br />

experience by working with our province’s Peace and<br />

Justice and our Communications committees, we could<br />

invite and empower others to spread the word with<br />

new methods and new expressions, new means, and new<br />

ardor as St. John Paul II inspired us.<br />

The song “Pass It On” clearly states, “It only takes a<br />

spark to get a fire glowing,” and the words of Jesus, “I<br />

have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were<br />

already blazing,” (Luke 12:49) along with its translation<br />

in Spanish, “He venido a encender fuego a la tierra; y<br />

¡cómo desearía que ya estuviera ardiendo!” added to the<br />

enthusiasm within me.<br />

So, along with Sister Maria Kruszewski, Sister Michele<br />

Collins, the provincial administration team, the Peace<br />

and Justice Committee and the Communications<br />

Director Emily Dillon, and Assistant Director Sister<br />

Angela Szczawinska, we invited all our sisters throughout<br />

the province to embark on the journey of “Transforming<br />

Grace,” asking them to consider utilizing their talents to<br />

share the materials with others.<br />

The spark has already ignited the fire! I have participated<br />

in meetings and faith sharing where the door that<br />

opened the year <strong>2024</strong> in the LCWR reflection served as<br />

an opening to peaceful discussion of differing viewpoints.<br />

In addition, videos and artwork, as well as questions for<br />

reflection along with silent moments, have led groups<br />

to a deeper understanding of challenging situations,<br />

gently inviting dialogue that engenders peace. Inspiration<br />

from the weekly reflections has sparked creativity. The<br />

message is spreading and the fire is glowing and growing.<br />

Sister Maria Kruszewski<br />

shared her own<br />

thoughts as follows:<br />

"The format of each<br />

weekly reflection of<br />

‘Transforming Grace’ is<br />

phenomenal — one page<br />

with a variety of things<br />

to consider! The art is<br />

inspiring, the videos open our minds and hearts to new<br />

ways of seeking a change, and the outcome of shared<br />

experiences is amazing! The thoughts are touching to<br />

my spirit in a special kind of way. … The first reflection<br />

I used was during Advent 2023, when I looked to Jesus’<br />

new birth and was born again as I found hope in<br />

the songs.”<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



Sister Maria shared the LCWR initiative with friends at the Franciscan Resource Center<br />

in Pittsburgh, PA, and this is a testimony from Adelina García:<br />

"We at the Franciscan Resource Center in Pittsburgh had not heard of this initiative until<br />

a few weeks ago! Sister Maria Kru told us about it one day during a visit to our center.<br />

We approached our provincial and offered to implement it at our center. We invited our<br />

sisters and participants who come to our events. Today we had our first session and we<br />

had 20 people, religious and laity (about half of each).<br />

"It was on polarization. It was great! Everyone loved it. We used two videos — ‘U.S. and<br />

How to Bridge the Path of Polarization’ and ‘Five Skills Needed in Communication.’ The<br />

videos, reflection questions, music, and prayers were wonderful. People came with trepidation and hesitancy and left<br />

with openness and joy and are looking forward to the next one! Key takeaways: Be open to growth and change, learn<br />

to listen to learn, and ask questions to better see another view.”<br />

Sister Michele Vincent Fisher shared her experiences with “Transforming Grace,”<br />

as follows:<br />

"These weekly doses of inspiration and challenge have been a bedrock for my ongoing<br />

meditation, reflection, and in a particular way, for my daily consciousness examen. The<br />

principles put forth in these prayer experiences can be applied at a core level to any<br />

and all circumstances in which I find myself. Sometimes, it’s so easy to categorize these<br />

nuggets of truth into something pertaining to a realm outside of myself. It would be easy<br />

to say, ‘I’ll think about it someday,’ and then safely tuck it into my ‘to-do’ list. But the<br />

nagging ‘one-liners’ in the songs, poems, prayers, and videos keep coming back to me<br />

with more questions than answers.<br />

"I was struck in a particular way as I listened to Dr. Martin Luther King’s recounting of his ‘Prayer at the Kitchen Table’<br />

and that moment of total surrender to God as he names his fears and anxieties and proceeds to yield to the Spirit’s<br />

higher calling. I ask myself, ‘Do I have the courage, trust, and humility to pray in such a way?’<br />

"I am so grateful to those who have collaborated to create these weekly prayer encounters, and each time I sit down<br />

to begin the week’s reflection, I imagine myself around a glowing campfire, singing, feeling the night breezes in the<br />

trees, and standing side by side in solidarity and communion with those who share this journey of hope. It is a genuine<br />

experience of the great Communion of Saints — earth and heaven united for a few brief moments of encounter.”<br />

Let us keep this fire of Transforming Grace burning. Let us take the time<br />

to reflect on the variety of reflections given by the LCWR and take to<br />

heart the words of St. Paul, “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God<br />

that you have.” (2 Timothy: 1-6)<br />

LCWR has given us a gift. Let ‘s use it to transform our lives and the lives<br />

of our fellow citizens longing for peace during the challenging days ahead.<br />

“Nothing is impossible with God!” (Luke 1:37)<br />


Nazareth Retreat Center<br />

Ministry to the Immigrants<br />

in the Heart of Texas<br />

By Sister Francesca Witkowska in collaboration with Sister Marcella Louise Wallowicz<br />

The United States of America has always been known as a land of possibility and promise of a better life for<br />

immigrants from all over the world. Nazareth Retreat Center (NRC), located on the border of the dioceses<br />

of Dallas and Fort Worth, offers hospitality and programs to those seeking the Lord. Sisters Marietta Osinska,<br />

Barbara Jean Wojnicki, and Edyta Krawczyk were instrumental in beginning the ministry of the NRC, a hidden<br />

treasure in the hills of Grand Prairie, TX, since 2009.<br />

The fastest growing demographic group in Texas are Hispanics, comprising 64% of the state’s population.<br />

Not surprisingly, when calls are received at the NRC, the caller will begin by speaking in Spanish. Although<br />

not all our sisters on staff are fluent in Spanish, the language of love and compassion enables them to respond<br />

to the needs of the Hispanics and other first-generation immigrants who choose NRC for prayer and<br />

retreat opportunities.<br />

NRC provides one-day and overnight retreats in addition to community celebrations, workshops, and<br />

couples retreats, as well as occasional wedding anniversaries. Quinceañeras are celebrated in the chapel.<br />

One recipient of Nazareth hospitality is Talleras de Oration y Vida (TOV), or Workshops of Prayer and Life, a<br />

movement started in Mexico by Father Ignacio Larranaga, OFM.<br />

Private Retreatant<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



NRC Mission and Ministry Director Sister Francesca<br />

Witkowska, commenting on the TOV, shared, “We are<br />

witnessing their coming for periodic, silent, one-day<br />

retreats for many years. I am edified how faithfully<br />

they come to our retreat center, spending hours in<br />

silent prayer with their Bibles and prayer books. They<br />

choose to sit under the trees, on lawn chairs, by the<br />

ponds, in the gazebo, or inside the buildings, in the<br />

corners, sometimes where we least expect them,<br />

meditating on the Word of God for a prolonged<br />

period only to share the fruit of their prayer with the<br />

group at the end of their retreat.”<br />

The NRC provides retreatants with a safe space<br />

for an encounter with God their Creator on their<br />

personal journey. In the words of Alejandra, one of<br />

the TOV retreatants, “The retreat center is a place<br />

where I have encountered solitude, silence, and peace<br />

to have intimate time with Jesus. No matter where<br />

we come from or what we are struggling with, after<br />

our silent time we always go home filled with a sense<br />

of belonging and a purpose to continue our mission<br />

as Guides of Prayer and Life Workshops.”<br />

Another TOV member, Alma, who has brought her<br />

groups to the NRC for eight years, shared, “Nazareth<br />

is our home, where we love to keep coming back for<br />

years. It is like coming back home each time we are<br />

here. We love coming here.” In 2023 alone, the NRC<br />

welcomed more than 540 TOV members for their<br />

silent retreats. Spiritual Director Sister Mary Louise<br />

Swift, who welcomes TOV members in their native<br />

Spanish language, shared, “The TOV’s devotion to God<br />

through this disciplined prayer method inspires and<br />

evangelizes me as I see their spiritual boundedness<br />

drawn by Jesus Christ. They come faithfully to our<br />

doors to embrace and celebrate holiness within their<br />

personal and communal lives.”<br />

Hispanic groups of the Neocatechumenal Way also<br />

frequent the NRC. Sister David Sibiski coordinates<br />

this ministry. Last year, 530 adults, not counting<br />

children, were welcomed. They come with their<br />

families to celebrate Eucharist or for days of<br />

catechesis. While the adults have their meetings, the<br />

children play under the care of chaperones.<br />

Jesús, a Neocatechumenal group leader and father<br />

of nine, has brought Neo groups to NRC from the<br />

onset. He emphasized, “We could go somewhere<br />

else, but we love the sisters and we love coming<br />

back to Nazareth to celebrate Eucharist and for our<br />

meetings.” The NRC provides space for weekend,<br />

overnight worldwide marriage encounter retreats,<br />

hosting three to four yearly. The NRC also welcomes<br />

Couples for Christ, a Filipino organization with a<br />

similar mission of strengthening marriages in the spirit<br />

of Christ.<br />

Additionally, NRC offers healing retreats such<br />

as Rachel’s Vineyard for women recovering from<br />

abortion, and Project Joseph for men. Dawn of Mercy<br />

Healing Retreats address the needs of women who<br />

were sexually abused. These healing retreats are<br />

offered in Spanish and English.<br />

Another large demographic group served by the<br />

center is the Asian population — in particular,<br />

the Vietnamese and Chinese. Sister Mary Louise<br />

provides programs for these groups and observed,<br />

“Members of the Chinese Catholic Church here in<br />

the Dallas-Fort Worth area found their way to our<br />

NRC to explore the wisdom of nature in revealing<br />

“Nazareth is our home,<br />

where we love to keep<br />

coming back for years.<br />

It is like coming back<br />

home each time we are<br />

here. We love coming<br />

here.” -Alma<br />


the presence and activity of God in the world. The<br />

participants directly encountered nature during<br />

retreat days and produced individual expressions<br />

of Asian art in each season’s retreat activities.”<br />

Technology facilitates the ability of the NRC to<br />

expand the outreach of selected retreat program<br />

presentations to Taiwan, the Philippines, and Canada<br />

via Zoom.<br />

Each year, Sister Emmanuela Le prepares a Vietnamese<br />

youth group from St. Joseph Parish for the sacrament<br />

of confirmation. Other Vietnamese groups come for<br />

their catechetical retreats and the Ignatian Spiritual<br />

Exercises. The NRC hosts private retreats for<br />

multinational participants. A recent retreatant, Sister<br />

Duyen Nguyen, FMSR, commented, “The sisters have<br />

shared with me their love, care, and prayers. I feel at<br />

home. Thanks be to God. I have had a fruitful retreat.”<br />

In recent weeks, the center has welcomed individuals<br />

from Tanzania, Spain, Puerto Rico, and cities across<br />

the United States. In 2023, the center accommodated<br />

more than 3,100 retreatants, more than half of them<br />

first-generation immigrants to Texas.<br />

Sister Francesca expressed her gratitude to Sister<br />

Monika Brulinska, local superior, and all the sisters<br />

in the local community in Grand Prairie for the<br />

support given to the NRC. For the past 15 years, the<br />

sisters have supported this ministry of hospitality and<br />

spiritual care for thousands of retreatants each year,<br />

allowing them to experience the spirit of Nazareth.<br />

TOV Group ending their day of silent retreat and inviting<br />

Sister Francesca Witkowska to take a picture with them by<br />

the Grotto of Our Lady.<br />

Neocatechumenal group at the NRC, fall 2023.<br />

TOV group led by Alma in Nazareth Retreat Center,<br />

Nov 2023.<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



Faith & Family<br />

Intertwined<br />

By Amanda Giarratano<br />

It is truly a beautiful thing to see how the love of<br />

Nazareth shapes families. For Kathy Wyszynski, the<br />

mingling of her family history with that of our sisters got<br />

its start nearly a century ago and continues to this<br />

very day.<br />

It all began in 1939 when Kathy’s parents, Dorothy and<br />

Richard Wyszynski, met in the first grade while attending<br />

St. John Cantius School in Philadelphia. There they were<br />

taught by many of the sisters of the Holy Family of<br />

Nazareth, who were serving the parish and school. This<br />

early connection would come to be a lifelong relationship<br />

that would span generations, with these two young<br />

children having no idea of the journey their lives would<br />

take together.<br />

While in high school, Dorothy and Richard briefly parted<br />

ways when Dorothy continued her education with our<br />

sisters at Nazareth Academy High School, an all-girls<br />

institution, while Richard went on to an all-boys high<br />

school. Among Dorothy’s classmates was Peggy Seigman,<br />

Mary Rosica, and the late Sister Jeanette Lawlor, who<br />

would go on not only to teach at St. John Cantius school<br />

but also serve as principal at Nazareth Academy, and later<br />

on, the Provincial Superior of Immaculate Conception<br />

Province, Philadelphia. But there was something special<br />

calling the Wyszynskis back to Nazareth.<br />

Years later, Dorothy and Richard married and had four<br />

children of their own who were all born at Nazareth<br />

Hospital in Philadelphia, the very hospital founded by<br />

our sisters. The young couple allowed their daughters<br />

to decide where they would attend high school, but for<br />

Kathy and her sisters, there was nowhere they felt at<br />

home but Nazareth Academy.<br />

“Our parents had given us a choice as to where we<br />

wanted to go,” Kathy explained, “but when we all visited<br />

Nazareth and met with the sisters and staff, we all decided<br />

that it was the place for us. The 'sisterhood' of the school,<br />

the focus on an academic curriculum, the mission of the<br />

sisters, and the fact that my mother and two aunts had<br />

attended helped quite a bit in our decision.”<br />

It was during her time as a Nazareth Academy student<br />

that Kathy became acquainted with many of the very<br />

sisters who had taught her own mother, including Sister<br />

Francesca Onley and Sister Flavia Wawrzynowicz, who<br />

taught Spanish language classes at Nazareth Academy for<br />

20 years. She had even mistaken Kathy for her mother<br />

due to their great familial resemblance, calling her by her<br />

mother’s name more than once!<br />


In her own words, Kathy’s connection to Nazareth<br />

“became more of a family affair” as the years passed,<br />

seeing her extended family continue the tradition<br />

of sending their children to Nazareth Academy with<br />

a maternal aunt becoming part of the Wesolowski<br />

family by marriage – and cousin to Sisters Regis and<br />

Loretta Wesolowski, and to Sister Maria Annette<br />

Mallen. While residing in Philadelphia, Kathy and<br />

her parents could also be found attending events at<br />

Mount Nazareth, including the Nazareth Academy<br />

High School Graduation in 2017 with Sister Maureen<br />

McGarrity and Sister Virginette Rypniewski, as<br />

well as the NAHS Alumnae Mass. Even years after<br />

graduating, Kathy still felt a draw towards giving back<br />

to Nazareth.<br />

“I feel strongly that the educational and professional<br />

successes I have had throughout my career were due<br />

in part to the sisters and my time at Nazareth,” Kathy<br />

explained. “The sisters instilled a bit of confidence in<br />

me that I didn't have in myself and that carried me<br />

through my career.” Kathy went on to serve on the<br />

board at Nazareth Academy alongside both sisters<br />

who had taught her and sisters who had taught her<br />

parents as well.<br />

Even after a move out of state that made<br />

continuing on the school board too difficult, Kathy<br />

has remained active within the Nazareth community<br />

by becoming the Class of 1977 Ambassador. It was a<br />

moment of great joy when in 2017, 40 years after her<br />

own graduation from Nazareth Academy, Kathy was<br />

able to present her niece, Paige, with her diploma.<br />

It’s wonderful to see the impact that our sisters have<br />

had on the Wyszynski family throughout the years.<br />

They are one of the many families the sisters have<br />

served with a love that extends beyond one another<br />

to the community at large and for God. We cannot<br />

wait to see what the future brings for the Wyszynski<br />

family and for our sisters as they continue this<br />

journey of love, faith, and family together.<br />

NAHS Class of 1951 Reunion Luncheon.<br />

Sister Maureen McGarrity, Sister Virginette<br />

Rypniewski, Kathy Wyszynski - Nazareth Academy<br />

High School Graduation, 2017.<br />

The late Sister Jeannette Lawlor, Dorothy Wyszynski,<br />

Mary Rosica - Nazareth Academy Class of '51<br />

classmates - NAHS Alumnae Mass.<br />

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



We Invite You to Participate in Our<br />

Prayer Remembrance Program<br />

When a relative, friend, or loved one passes away, celebrates a birthday or anniversary, or is<br />

experiencing ill health, you can express your sentiments, honor them in a meaningful way, and offer a<br />

gift to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth – USA, Inc. Those you choose to honor will share in<br />

the spiritual works and prayer of the sisters and be remembered during daily liturgy and a special Mass<br />

each month. Their name will also be placed in the Prayer Remembrance book located in the chapel at<br />

our Provincialate House. Contributions to the Prayer Remembrance program are used to help care<br />

for our elderly and infirmed sisters as well as those who continue to minister for and with families.<br />

If you would like to participate in the Prayer Remembrance program, order from our website<br />

(nazarethcsfn.org/donate/request-spiritual-greeting-cards), or call us at 847-298-6760 ext. 143, email<br />

us at csfn_development@nazarethcsfn.org, or write us at Development Office, Sisters of the Holy<br />

Family of Nazareth – USA, Inc., 310 N. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016-1211. We will send you as<br />

many greeting cards as you would like, so you can send them to your relatives or friends as well as a<br />

convenient reply envelope for your contribution.<br />


Why Not Host a Facebook<br />

Fundraiser to Support<br />

Our Sisters?<br />

Did you know you can help us raise money to support<br />

our sisters by setting up your own birthday fundraiser<br />

on Facebook?<br />

So many people are already accustomed to using Facebook to send birthday<br />

greetings to their friends and loved ones that it seems a natural progression to<br />

request people make donations to your favorite nonprofit in honor of your birthday.<br />

The gift allows those who care about you a way to honor your birthday and<br />

provides much-needed funding to an organization you hold in esteem.<br />

There are two ways to do this and both are easy!<br />

If you have your birthday listed in your Facebook profile, you will receive a prompt about two weeks prior to your<br />

birthday encouraging you to host a fundraiser in honor of your special day. Setting up the fundraiser takes just a few<br />

clicks. Once the fundraiser is started, your friends will see it and can donate quickly through a simple process, publicly<br />

or anonymously.<br />

If your birthday is not included in your Facebook profile, go to the CSFN Facebook page (facebook.com/csfn.usa), click<br />

the Fundraisers tab at the top of the news feed, then click “Raise Money.” A few clicks later, your fundraiser will be<br />

ready to go and you can then share the Fundraiser with your friends.<br />


Donations in memory of a deceased sister may be mailed to the Development Office, Sisters of the Holy Family<br />

of Nazareth – USA, Inc., 310 N. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016. Please include a note with the name of the<br />

sister in whose memory you are giving. Donations may also be made online at nazarethcsfn.org/donate.<br />

Donate To Support Our Sisters<br />

Mail: Send donations to the Development Office, 310 N. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016.<br />

Website: nazarethcsfn.org — click “Donate” to use a credit card or checking account.<br />

Facebook: facebook.com/csfn.usa — click “Donate”<br />

Call: (847)298-6760, ext. 237, our Development Office<br />

Text-2-Give: Text the word REGISTER to (847) 994-4483. You will then be asked to<br />

provide contact and credit card information.<br />


NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />


310 N River Rd<br />

Des Plaines, IL 60016<br />

www.nazarethcsfn.org<br />

Non-profit<br />

Organization<br />

U.S. Postage<br />

Paid<br />

Des Plaines, IL<br />

Permit No. 340<br />


If you would like to order spiritual greeting cards, please complete the order form below.<br />

You are welcome to order as many of each type as you would like. Our office will mail your cards.<br />

Please send me Prayer Remembrance cards in the amounts I have indicated:<br />

____ General Card<br />

____ Birthday Card - Scenic<br />

____ Memorial Card<br />

____ Birthday Card - Floral<br />

____ Thinking of You Card<br />

____ Get Well Card<br />

____ Anniversary Card<br />

____ Thank You Card<br />

Please return your completed card order form to:<br />

Development Office, 310 N. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016.<br />

Name_____________________________________________________________________<br />

Address___________________________________________________________________<br />

City_________________________________________State________ Zip Code__________<br />

We, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, are called to extend the Kingdom of God’s love among ourselves and<br />

others by living the spirit of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph whose lives were centered in the love of God and one another.<br />

We witness to this love through dedicated service to the Church, especially in ministry to the family.

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