Beginnings of the American Foundation

Through the intercession of Mother Columba Bialecka, against insurmountable difficulties, we have received the permission to open the novitiate in Chicago. Later, after rejection of our requests to extend our stay in the US, the intercession of Mother Foundress was again of help. For these and many other graces we express our gratitude

Dominican Sisters of Chicago, USA, 1933

A brief excerpt from Chronicles

The time of probation was nearing to a year and a half. Since for some reason we could not obtain the permission from our superiors to open the novitiate, we started praying ardently to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady, and also to our Mother Foundress. Our hope was that if the will of God was that her spiritual daughters worked on the soil of Washington, the permission to open the novitiate would be granted, moreover, the process would get accelerated. And, surprising, some help came our way: a priest gave us an address to Bishop Dubowski in Rome. Sister superior had this thought that we could ask him for recommendations (a few years back he visited America and got to know our sisters in passing). Bishop favorably took care of our request and on February 13, 1931 we received a telegram. Since the permission was granted, we gathered in the chapel and sang the grateful Te Deum ascribing that grace to the intercession of Mother Columba. On March 15th a letter from Mother General arrived along with the blessing for the ceremony of vestition […]. That is why on April 30, 1931, on the day of Saint Mother Catherine of Siena our first four sisters received habit on the soil of Washington […].

Now a heavy cross awaited us. In February of 1932 we received a message from Washington, D.C. that our stay in the United States was ending in March and that we had to leave the country. All of our efforts to prolong it were rendered void. At last, Mr. Antoni Czarnecki, a customs official and a friend of President Herbert Hoover procured a prolongation, but only for three more months, that is, till June. The situation was particularly painful for how were we to abandon our young sisters still without grounded spiritual life! We were hoping that before our visas would have expired, some new sisters would come to stay permanently. Meanwhile, even that failed. In March then, just before the 45th anniversary of the death of Mother Foundress, one of the sisters prayed the novena to her to implore the grace of permanent residency. She made it with a condition: “Venerable Mother Columba, if you are in heaven and you will succeed in procuring us with the Sacred Heart and we will receive the visas, please, give us this sign that Fr. Prelate Tomas P. Bona will arrive and will officiate during the ceremonies of either vestition or first profession.” He was asked earlier, but declined our request due to the scarcity of time and multitude of other duties. Nonetheless, last week he contacted us and announced that he would preside over the ceremony of first profession. It meant for us that visas were assured. A sign from heaven!!! On April 30, 1932, five postulants were vested and received names: Czesława, Dominika, Łucja, Tomazja, and Anotnina […]. The solemnity of the Queen of Poland on May 3rd, reverend Fr. Prelate Tomas P. Bona received the first profession of our first four novices.

The 25th of May of this year, on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, three of our Sisters left Chicago headed to New York. Saying farewell to the others they did it with hope of a quick return. In Chicago there were 11 sisters left: Sr. Celestine, four newly professed sisters, five novices, and one postulant. On May 28th we set sail from New York to Copenhagen on a steamer “Frederick”, and from there to Gdynia on a smaller ship called “Vistula.” We arrived in Gdynia on June 9th.

Having stayed one day in Gdańsk, we set for Pozań to pay a visit to his eminency Cardinal Hlond. Our hopes to acquire letters of recommendation for the American consul in Warsaw came true. Combined with the letter from Cardinal Jerry Mundelein of Chicago, we were already equipped with two.

Directly from Poznań we headed to Warsaw to meet the American consul in the aforementioned matter. Once all formalities were taken care of, we set straight to Biała Niżna, our then general house. We dropped as if birds in passing to this cradle of ours. All sisters led by reverend Mother Kunegunda with her council welcomed us kindly and cordially.

After a month of staying in Biała, we returned to Warsaw. This time, we stayed in the dorm “Providence” by Mrs. Bisping. In spite of all the negative opinions that our efforts were in vain, we hoped that the Heart of Jesus, through Our Lady, and the intercession of venerable Mother Columba would not abandon us and that we would receive our permanent residency. And it happened so! What for others takes years of pains, we received in a few weeks time. It can be said: miraculously! The Sacred Heart won on the First Friday, August 5, 1932.

Chronicles describe these two extraordinary graces, however, it is impossible to establish today who of the three possible sisters authored the text. It might be either Sr. Leona Srzeszewska, O.P. or Sr. Ignacja Witczak, O.P. or Sr. Felicja Jasica, O.P.