Bonzel, Maria Theresia, Mother

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Foundress of the Poor Sisters of St. Francis Seraph of Perpetual Adoration; b. Olpe, Germany, Sept. 17, 1830; d. Olpe, Feb. 6, 1905. Aline was the elder of two daughters of Friedrich Edmund Bonzel, a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist, and Maria Anna (Liese) Bonzel. After studying under the Ursulines at Cologne, she became a Franciscan tertiary (1851) and took the name Theresia, which she retained in religion. Her desire to join the Salesian Sisters was frustrated for more than five years after 1852, first by her inability to gain her mother's consent, and then by a protracted illness. She founded her congregation (July 20, 1863) at Olpe to care for poor and neglected children, an apostolate later extended to the education of children and nursing the sick, especially the poor. During Theresia's lifelong term as superior general, she saw the institute spread to the United States (1875) and Austria, and increase to 700 members (see francis can sisters).

Bibliography: s. elsner, Mutter Maria Theresia Bonzel und ihre Stiftung (Werl 1926), Eng. From the Wounds of St. Francis, tr. m. f. peters and m. h. hau (Mishawaka, Ind. 1955).

[m. f. peters]