Diocesan News

Marian Sisters celebrate 60 years of serving God

(SNR) - The Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln are thanking God while celebrating 60 years of their history as a religious community serving the people of God in the Lincoln Diocese.

Bishop James Conley will open the jubilee year with the Sisters as he celebrates Mass with them at their motherhouse near Waverly Feb. 15.

The community has a beginning completely directed by God’s unique plan. Just as God invited Abraham to leave his people, so God directed two Sisters to leave their homeland of Czechoslovakia in 1950.

Sister Marta Silna and Sister Theresa Gottvaldova, were members of the Mercy Sisters of St. Francis. The members of this community were nurses. They served under both the Nazi and Communist governments. They carefully cared for soldiers who were wounded. Sister Marta shared a story about nursing a German soldier who said to her, “You know I could kill you.”

She simply replied, “Let me take care of your wounds first.” The Sisters truly loved God and saw His presence in all they were called to serve.

Since the Mercy Sisters were not allowed to welcome new members into their community, Sister Marta and Sister Theresa were given permission to leave the country to see where God would direct them to continue His work. They planned on North America, Australia, or South America. They first lived and served in a camp for displaced persons in Austria.

After much praying, a visit to Rome for guidance, and many hardships with emigration, they were reunited on Dec. 18, 1953, at the St. Thomas Orphanage in Lincoln. They were welcomed by workers there, since the Sisters who had staffed the orphanage had already told Bishop Kucera that they would soon need to leave.

Bishop Kucera received an official transcript from the Sacred Congregation for Religious in Rome to start a new community on Feb. 15, 1954. Sister Martin de Porres, a Dominican Sister from Sinsinawa, Wisc., came to help as a novice mistress. She stayed for two years, until the first three Sisters were professed as Mercy Sisters of St. Francis.

The Sisters continued to staff the orphanage for the next 10 years. During that time, some of the young Sisters were going to college to be able to teach in Catholic schools. St. John School in Lincoln was opened and three of the Sisters taught there, starting in 1960.

Communication with the Sisters in Czechoslovakia was difficult. Because of the Communists’ censuring of mail, it was decided to start a new community. Under Bishop James V. Casey’s leadership and much prayer, it was decided to have Mary as the special patron, calling the community the Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln. The Sisters still follow the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Marian Sisters thank God for His love and guidance throughout these past sixty years. They ask God to bless all who have helped them in so many ways during this time. Their families, friends, and benefactors have a special place in their prayers.

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