Truszkowska, Angela Maria, Bl.

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Baptized Sophia (Zofia) Camille; foundress of the Felician Sisters; b. May 16, 1825, Kalisz, Poland; d. Oct. 10, 1899, Krakow, Poland.

Joseph Truszkowski, a judge, and his wife Josephine had the means to educate their frail daughter Sophia at home. She enrolled in Madame Guerin's academy when her family moved to Warsaw (1837), but tuberculosis forced her to continue her studies in her father's extensive library after she recovered in a Swiss sanitarium. She considered joining the Visitation Nuns, but she remained at home to assist her ailing father.

Sophia came to understand her vocation was serving the poor, not cloistered contemplation, during a trip to Cologne, Germany (1848). At first she answered the call as a member of the Society of Saint vincent de paul. Later she became a lay Franciscan and took the name Angela. At age 29, she sought out and helped street children and the aged homeless in the Warsaw slums. Soon she and her cousin Clothilde were caring for six children in two attic rooms with the financial help of her father.

On Nov. 21, 1855, Sophia and Clothilde made private vows before the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa. They attracted other volunteers to form a congregation in 1857, which responds to the needs of the Church in social service or catechetical centers. Mother Angela's name is inexorably linked with that of Blessed Honorat kozminski (18291916), who was appointed spiritual director for the new order. The congregation received its namethe Sisters of Saint Felix of Cantalicebecause the sisters took their young charges to pray at the shrine of the patron of children.

After three successive terms as superior general of the Felician sisters, Mother Angela (age 44) stepped aside because of her increasing deafness. She served another 30 years as a simple sister, but did continue to guide the order and inspire new ministries, including their mission to the United States (1874). Towards the end of her life, Sister Angela suffered from deafness and cancer; the latter eventually claimed her life. Her remains were enshrined in the motherhouse chapel on Smolensk Street, Krakow.

In his homily at Bl. Angela's beatification (Apr. 18, 1993), Pope John Paul II, who had opened her cause as Cardinal Karol Wojtyła of Krakow, noted that "Christ formed her spirit through great suffering, which she accepted with faith and truly heroic submission to his will: in seclusion and solitude, through a long, painful disease, and in the dark night of the soul."

Feast: Oct. 10.

Bibliography: f. a. cegielka, The Pierced Heart (Milwaukee 1955). m. winowska, Go, Repair My House, tr. c. quintal (Lodi, NJ 1976). m. b. dmowska, Matka Maria Angela Truszkowska: Załožycielka Zgromadzenia Sióstr Felicjanek (Buffalo 1949). m. j. ziolkowski, The Felician Sisters of Livonia, Michigan: First Province in America (Detroit, MI 1984).

[k. i. rabenstein]