Sr. Columba in Nancy, France

As we can see, Fr. Vincent Jandel, O.P. was the providential figure who paved Rose’s way to the Order. First he discussed the matters with Mother Marie of St. Rose Lejeune, O.P., the prioress of reformed Dominicans in Nancy, France. Then, Rose was free to enter their contemplative-active community. She knocked on the convent’s door on June 11, 1857, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ and got welcomed her with great joy and cordiality. Three days later, on June 14, 1857, Sunday in the Corpus Christi octave, Rose began her postulancy. The first chores of Sister Rose was to assist sacristans Mother Marie of Jesus and Sr. Marie of Angels. This fairly light, yet dignified duty was very intentional: it was to match Rose’s frail health.

In matters of vocation, Rose understood very well that she needed to build it on two cornerstones: humility and love of God and neighbor. Strong in her resolve, nonetheless Rose did experience sever homesickness. She missed her family, homeland, and her native tongue very much. In fact, with every letter she received from her dear mother or sisters, she would run to the chapel, hid behind the altar, read it there, and beg God for the grace to conquer her inner commotion. One day, Rose shared her pain with Mother Marie of St. Rose. To her great surprise, this always kind and understanding superior, this time treated her harshly. She said that Rose most likely had no vocation. And, for that matter, she ought to return to Poland. So unexpected a retort shocked this young postulant so much that all and any homesickness temptations vanished once and for all.

Passion for God, the desire to serve, and very congruent fervor in daily duties convinced Mother Superior of the authenticity of Polish candidate’s vocation. Thus, after 10 months of postulancy, Sr. Rose began her preparation to the novitiate. First, she underwent a threefold examination by Fr. Marcoline Hue, O.P. who was verifying Rose’s motivation. During the canonical examination she replied firmly and honestly that her intent to enter the convent was the sole desire to “belong to God entirely.” Secondly, she participated in a three-day-long pre-vestition retreat. And then, during the Sacrifice of the Mass, on April 30, 1858, she received both the Dominican habit and a new religious name. Mother Marie of Jesus had discerned that Columba, which in Latin signifies dove and symbolizes simplicity, chastity, and love, would best express Polish postulant’s spiritual profile. Thus, Sr. Mary Columba commenced her yearly preparation to religious profession.

Novitiate was an intense time dedicated to memorization of Constitutions and Customs of the Order as well as teaching at the convent school. In the midst of her duties, Sr. Columba incessantly searched for opportunities to stay before the Blessed Sacrament. It was there, in silent adoration, that she revisited her initial desire to be a contemplative nun in Cracow’s Grodek, back in her homeland. Troubled as she was, she wrote to Fr. Jandel, O.P. In his reply, Fr. Jandel argued that such thoughts were nothing else but distractions and that she needed not to worry about them. He steadfastly affirmed that the Nancy convent was the right one and that God wanted her to persevere. He redirected her energy to yet another question, namely, whether she was willing to become a holocaust for God, a total gift of self through which she would renounce her family and homeland (in case the return to Poland would be impossible) and make religious profession wholeheartedly, with no reservations and preconditions. Sr. Columba’s reply was simple and consistent with her original intent that for God she was ready sacrifice everything.

Accepted to religious vows, Sr. Columba professed them on April 30, 1859 in Nancy, France, where she remained till June of that year. Afterwards she returned to Poland to verify prospects of establishing a new foundation of religious community.

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