Both the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Sisters of the Resurrection recognized the importance of a strong, integrated Catholic health care system for Chicago and agreed that the best way to develop this organization was to collaborate with sponsors who share similar mission, vision and values and are committed to remaining in the health care ministry. Early discussions exploring potential collaboration between the two religious congregations quickly confirmed the compatibility of mission and values, as well as a similarity in their histories.
Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth was founded in Rome in 1875 by Frances Siedliska, a Polish noblewoman. Frances explored religious life only after the death of her father, to whom religious life was not an acceptable career choice. She chose the name Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
The foundress understood the purpose of the Congregation as cooperating with Christ and His Church in spreading the Kingdom of God's love, which first blossomed in the Holy Family of Nazareth. The spiritual and moral renewal of family life remains the focus of the Congregation today.
In 1885, Mother Mary brought 11 Sisters to the United States to minister to the needs of immigrant Poles. The Sisters arrived in Chicago on July 6, 1885, at Saint Josaphat parish, where they cared for orphan children and established a school. The Congregation grew quickly in America, and many other parish schools were established.
While education remained a core element of the Congregation's ministry to families, concern for the sick soon led the Sisters to dedicate themselves to the health of families in areas they served. In 1894, the Sisters opened Saint Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center. Their health care ministry in Chicago later expanded to include Holy Family Medical Center and Holy Family Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Des Plaines.
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth currently serve in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Texas as well as Australia, Belarus, England, France, Italy, Israel, Lithuania, the Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the Ukraine.
Sisters of the Resurrection
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection was founded in Rome in 1891 by a widowed Polish noblewoman, Celine Borzecka, and her daughter Hedwig. This was the first time in the history of the Catholic Church that a religious community was founded by a mother and daughter. Celine felt a calling to religious life from an early age, but yielded to the wishes of her parents and married. After her husband died, she traveled to Rome, where she met Father Peter Semenenko, C.R., the Superior General of the Resurrection Fathers and Brothers, who became spiritual advisor to Celine and Hedwig and helped them form a feminine Resurrection counterpart.
The Congregation takes its name from the mystery of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which serves as an inspiration. Through their ministries, the Sisters seek to help others transform occasions in their lives from loss to gain, from despair to hope, from sadness to joy.
When the new Congregation was only nine years old, the Sisters were asked by the Resurrection Fathers to help them minister in the New World. On February 2, 1900, four Sisters led by Sister Anne Strzelecka, C.R., arrived at Saint Mary of the Angels Parish in Chicago, where they began teaching 425 students the very next day. Before long, they were teaching in several states; established a day care center for children of working mothers at Saint Mary of the Angels; and established a boarding school for girls, which today is Resurrection High School.
The Sisters responded once again to community needs and opened Resurrection Medical Center in 1953. This was the beginning of what today is Resurrection Health Care, the largest Catholic health care system in the Chicago area.
The Sisters of the Resurrection serve today in Canada, England, Italy, Poland, Argentina and Australia and the United States. In the U.S., they have ministries in Illinois, Alabama, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
A Common Bond
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth share a piece of history with the Sisters of the Resurrection that pre-dates the founding of both Congregations. Father Peter Semenenko, C.R., was spiritual advisor to both foundresses. At one time, it was his hope that Frances Siedliska and her followers would become the feminine counterpart to the Resurrection Fathers. However, she was more drawn by the mystery of the Holy Family of Nazareth, which she felt to be her call. Later, it was Celine Borzecka who became the foundress of the Resurrection Sisters. In a twist of God's providence, the two Congregations are united more than 125 years later as co-sponsors of Resurrection Health Care.