I would like to open up our houses as a meeting place. Consecrated and lay together are a response to the crisis of vocations, said Sr. Dorota Baranowska, who on July 11 this year. She was elected Mother General of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception. After 30 years in the United States, Sister Baranowska returns to Poland to lead this congregation.
Mother General’s choice was a surprise to Sr. Baranowska. “When I went to the General Chapter, it never occurred to me that I might be elected. I trust that this was the leading of the Holy Spirit. I have been chosen by the sisters and for the sisters, so I will accompany them wherever they serve, in their joys and sorrows,” said the maidservant.
As Sister Baranowska emphasizes, many times in her life she experienced a special action of Providence. He considers his religious vocation the greatest miracle. “During my studies I moved to the United States. I met the sisters there. If I hadn’t been to the United States, I might not have become a maidservant. I tried to go around God and seek happiness my way, and He showed that my calling is service,” she told Family News Service.
Like Sr. Baranowska emphasized, she was delighted in the United States with the openness and spontaneity of the Americans. “On the street I met respect for my sisters. For example, Catholics in particular said, “Oh, how long have I not seen your sister! And I graduated from Catholic school a long time ago; my sisters taught me. It was very kind to me,” admitted Sr. Baranowska.
Sr. Dorota Baranowska Mother General of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception
The Handmaid Sisters preach in 11 countries around the world. In the US they run kindergartens and nursing homes for the elderly, they also work as so-called field nurses and catechists in schools. “The first sisters to come to the United States began their work running preschool daycare centers. They ran homes for the children of Polish emigrants who needed help. Later we also reached English-speaking children and the sick,” says Sr. Baranowska.
The Congregation of the Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception was founded by Bl. Edmund Bojanowski in 1850. As Sr. Dorota noted: “Bl. Edmund had not foreseen that his work would grow like this, although he was already thinking about sending the sisters abroad.”
Ukraine is a special workplace for the sisters, because of the ongoing war there. Handmaids serve in the west of the country. “In Ukraine, our facilities continue to function, although they operate slightly differently than before the war. The sisters stayed in Ukraine, helping there – praying with people, talking, comforting and also receiving refugees from eastern Ukraine,” Sister Baranowska told Family News Service.
The institutions of the Sisters of Servants have become places of humanitarian aid. “The sisters are also couriers who deliver aid. Some have contacts with organizations that help. Some sisters also came to the border to help refugees. In some places they continue to prepare children for the sacraments, run kindergartens “- emphasized Mother General of the Servants Sisters.
S. Dorota Baranowska was born in 1965 in Sidra (Bishopric of Białystok). She joined the Congregation in the US in 1992 and came to Poland for religious formation. She studied pedagogical studies at the University of St. Joseph in Philadelphia. Until 2011, she was a teacher, then also a champion of junior and postulant women in the US, and a county councilor. As of 2011, she was the Provincial Superior of the American Province of the Cherry Hill Congregation, near Philadelphia.
Służebniczki Starowiejskie currently has their posts in 11 countries: 152 in Poland, as well as in Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Germany, Italy, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa and the USA.
Source: KAI / kb
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