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Thursday, September 20th, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Venerable Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik, foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. The Sisters will commemorate the day with a special Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel and dinner and a sundae bar for dessert. The Sisters ask for your prayers on this special day.

Mother Mary Theresa was born Josephine Dudzik on August 30, 1860 to John and Agnes Dudzik in the tiny village of Plocicz in the western Poland. She was baptized and made her First Holy Communion at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Kamien Krajenski, Poland. The Dudzik family emigrated to America in 1881 and settled in Chicago on the northwest side in the vicinity of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. The family joined St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, the largest Catholic parish in the U.S at that time.

After the death of her father, Josephine and her mother lived alone. Josephine was moved by the condition of the aged, poor and orphaned whom she encountered in her neighborhood. She came to their aid spiritually, physically, and emotionally, even sheltering some in her own family apartment. During Chicago's severe financial crisis of 1893, upon the advice of her pastor, Rev. Vincent Michael Barzynski, Josephine formed a religious community to help her aid the elderly and those in need. Thus, on December 8, 1894, the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda was born (later the Sisters changed the name to the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago) and Josephine Dudzik was called Sister Mary Theresa. In the coming years, the Sisters would expand into child and elder care and education as Sister Mary Theresa and the congregation opened St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled in 1898 and St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum in 1899. The sisters also supported themselves and those they cared for by their sewing skills, growing flowers for cemetery bouquets, cleaning the rectory of the parish and begging when necessary.

For more than 120 years, imbued with the spirit of Mother Mary Theresa, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago have responded to the needs of God's people and have served in various ministries, such as the care of the elderly and the sick in hospitals and nursing homes: providing housing and services for residents in independent, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities; the operation of child care centers; teaching in elementary and secondary schools and in higher education; pastoral care; religious education and campus ministry; social service work and sheltering victims of domestic violence.

Sister Mary Theresa Dudzik died on September 20. 1918. She was later given the honorary title of Mother. Because of the heroic virtues evident in her life, Mother Mary Theresa is now a candidate for sainthood. Her remains were brought to the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago in Lemont from St. Adalbert Cemetery in 1972 and sealed in a granite sarcophagus in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel. The cause for her beatification and canonization is actively being pursued. We continue to pray that Venerable Mother Mary Theresa will be recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church and serve as a model for all Christians.

Click Here to read more about Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik's life.
Click here to see a history timeline about the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.

Click Here to read about Heritage Hall - a place of history and reflection at Our Lady of Victory Convent