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On December 8th, the Sisters celebrated the 125th anniversary of the founding of their congregation. It was on this day, on December 8th, 1894, that Josephine Dudzik established the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda (the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago's original name) at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago. In observance of this special day, the Sisters held a Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel at Our Lady of Victory Convent. Afterwards they celebrated with a luncheon with friends. Congratulations to the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago on this wonderful milestone!

Below is a message from Sister M. Bernadette Bajuscik, General Minister of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.

Dear Sisters, Associates, Relatives, Benefactors and Friends,

We, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, are filled with joy and gratitude as we celebrate with each of you the 125th Anniversary of the founding of our religious community!

Our Foundress, Venerable Mary Theresa Dudzik, a Polish immigrant, came to Chicago in 1881 with her family to escape the religious persecution, political oppression and economic hardships that plagued her homeland. They settled among other Polish immigrants at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish where she recognized new issues - lack of adequate housing and neglect of the poor, infirm and elderly. She was driven by one thought which she wrote in her Chronicle: "I felt the misery and suffering of others... ...the thought of how I could be of service to the needy and the poor haunted me day and night." (Chronicle p. 1)

This strong concern for the welfare of those in need, especially the elderly, led Mother Theresa to forfeit the comfort of her home and to give of herself to care for the poor elderly around her. Her response to this desire to serve and her invitation to other women in her parish to join her in this ministry led her to agree to establish the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago - the first religious congregation to be founded in the city. Together, they established the first nursing home in Chicago, St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled.

Mother Theresa and her fledgling group encountered numerous unexpected difficulties, but with the grace of God and through the intercession of St. Joseph they strengthened their resolve to persevere in their ministry. She wrote, "We continued working to attain the goal for which we had banded together." (Chronicle p. 17) We, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, have dedicated ourselves to the ministry of the Church through healthcare, eldercare, education, pastoral care and social services for 125 years, always striving to be faithful to our call. We stand on the shoulders of many brave women who worked tirelessly for God's people. We recommit ourselves to continue to give witness to the Gospel message through our dedicated lives and ministry to the Church.

As we celebrate this milestone in our heritage of loving service, we ask the Lord to bestow many blessings upon each of you.

In Christ,
Sister M. Bernadette Bajuscik, General Minister
Franciscan Sisters of Chicago