Series looks at East Anglia religious communities

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Series looks at East Anglia religious communities

In a series about the Religious Congregations living and working in the Diocese of East Anglia, Fr Karol Porczak MS, Vicar for the Religious, introduces two more communities – the Daughters of Divine Charity and the Society of Christ for Polish Migrants.

The Daughters of Divine Charity (FDC)

In response to the call of God, on November 21, 1868, Servant of God Franziska Lechner (1833-1894) founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Charity (FDC), in Latin Filiae Divinae Caritatis.

In Vienna, Austria, seeing the many young women who were coming to the city searching for work, Franziska recognised the urgent need to save them from becoming victims of exploitation and from moral dangers. She started her apostolate by organising training schools and boarding houses for young women to enable them to receive the required education free of charge, to have a safe place to grow in understanding of their own dignity and to have an opportunity to learn about the faith.

The work of the Congregation grew rapidly as various needs of the poor women and children were recognised. The Sisters continue that work today, striving to make the invisible love of God visible, incorporating in the world the motto their Foundress left them: “To do good, to bring joy, to make happy, and to lead to Heaven”. Today about 880 Sisters live in the international communities located in 20 countries.

The Sisters of the Vice-province of the Sacred Heart have been serving God for 110 years in England. They run a Nursery in Chesterfield (Sr M. Jacinta Čirko FDC, Sr M. Francis Ridler FDC, Sr Monika Szlagor FDC and Sr Maryjohn Kamps FDC), a youth ministry in Middleton, Greater Manchester (Sr M. Linda Pergega FDC, Sr M. Leonarda Pergega FDC and Sr Anna Yeo Chai Luan FDC) and St Theresa’s Convent in Hunstanton, Diocese of East Anglia (Sr Danuta Wloczka FDC (Superior), Sr M. Thomas More Prentice FDC and Sr Mary Gonçalves FDC), offering care to the elderly.

The Sisters make a visible presence in the Diocese of East Anglia attending various events especially for young people, such as the Ignite Festival in Swaffham, where they help as volunteers and periodically organize recollection days for young women.

One of the Sisters works as a Pastoral Assistant in Our Lady and the English Martyrs Parish, Cambridge, and is a member of the Diocesan Vocations Team. Another Sister of that Community runs Bible group meetings for the parishioners as well as regular recollection days for the Lay FDC Associates.

Pictured above, from back, left to right, Sr Maryjohn, Sr M Linda, Sr Mary, Sr Danuta, Sr Monika, front, Sr Anna, Sr M Jacinta, Sr M Leonarda, Sr M Francis, Sr M Thomas More.

The Society of Christ for Polish Migrants (SChr)

In 1918, after 123 years of being partitioned, Poland regained independence. Following this, the Church leaders in Poland could not ignore the requests raised by Poles calling for Polish priests to minister to them in all corners of the world.

The Polish Primate, Cardinal August Hlond (1881-1948), consulted the Holy See to find a solution to this demand. Subsequently, the Cardinal established the Society of Christ for Polish Migrants as a new religious congregation on September 8, 1932.

The congregation’s charism is based primarily on the spirituality of its founder, Venerable August Cardinal Hlond, which was implemented by Fr Ignacy Posadzy SChr (1898-1984), the Society’s co-founder. The external sign of that is simple piety, based on a deep life of prayer and well-prepared liturgy.

The first priests of the Society started their pastoral work among the Polish diaspora in Paris and London in 1937. The Main House in Poznań (Poland) has become the centre of the Society and its headquarters.

After the Second World War, the Communist authorities made obtaining a passport very difficult; despite this, the Society continued to prepare and train candidates for the eventual possibility of working abroad.

1956 was the year when the Society undertook its foreign mission on a larger scale.

Currently, the Society carries out its mission in Poland, in six foreign provinces, and a select number of countries in which priests answer directly to the Superior General.

The Province of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of the Congregation provide pastoral care for Poles in England and Wales. 34 priests from the Society of Christ work in 24 parishes as part of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales. The Polish Catholic Mission coordinates the pastoral care of the Society of Christ in the UK. Today, the Society is in charge of nearly 70 parishes in over 200 towns, where Mass is celebrated in the Polish language on a regular basis.

In our Diocese there are currently two Polish members of the Society of Christ working in Peterborough providing pastoral care for the Polish community in the city located at the church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Pictured below, Fr Sławomir Strycharski SChr, left, and Fr Marek Ogorzały SChr (Superior).