Sisters are hailed as having spent the last 25 years putting ‘the light of Divine Mercy’ in the central Asian country
The nuns from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy pay a visit to the tomb of late fellow confrere Sister Kinga Petkovich in Kazakhstan. (Photo: Catholic Kazakhstan)
On June 7, 1997, Pope John Paul II paid the first visit to the famous Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland.
Among other things during the visit, the late pope blessed three nuns from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.
The Polish pope consecrated the missionary crosses of the nuns and entrusted them with a special mission of mercy to Kazakhstan, a Muslim-majority central Asian nation, some 3,392 kilometers away by air.
The sanctuary, known to have miraculous powers, is the final resting place of Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, mystic and co-foundress of the congregation set up in 1862, in Warsaw.
Sister Kowalska (1905-1938) was famed for her apparitions of Jesus that popularized devotion to Divine Mercy in the Catholic Church. She was declared a saint by the Vatican on April 30, 2000.
The three nuns — Sister Maria Magdalena Glumińska, Sister Natalia Videl and Sister Eva Zheliszewska — arrived in Petropavlovsk, a city in northern Kazakhstan close to the Russian border, on June 22, 1997.
“In the beginning, the nuns collaborated with Redemptorist priests and lay people in local parishes to offer catechism classes in Petropavlovsk city and villages”
They began the first community of Divine Mercy nuns in the former Soviet republic and started the first religious house in the city, on June 29.
The nuns paid tribute to their predecessor, Sister Kinga Petkevich, who visited the country in August 1995, to experience missionary work.
In the beginning, the nuns collaborated with Redemptorist priests and lay people in local parishes to offer catechism classes in Petropavlovsk city and villages.
Gradually, they engaged in other activities such as evangelization and social services at churches, schools, orphanages, prisons and a children’s colony.
Then the nuns set up two houses, popularly called “Houses of Mercy” in the cities of Petropavlovsk and Tajynsza to assist poor women and children.
Currently, they run centers for girls who need deep moral renewal and organize homes for single mothers, the sick, and kindergartens for children.
“If I managed to save at least one soul thanks to my labors, if I managed to snatch at least one for God, this would already be a generous reward”
The sisters also promote the spirituality of their co-founder Saint Faustina Kowalska.
On June 26, Divine Mercy nuns celebrated the 25th anniversary of their arrival in Kazakhstan in the presence of Archbishop Tomasz Peta of Astana, the congregation’s Superior-General Miriam Janets and two of the first missionary nuns still alive — Sister Natalia Videl and Sister Eva Zheliszewska.
Archbishop Peta, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Kazakhstan hailed the nuns for putting “the light of Divine Mercy” in the country.
Sister Janets, the Superior-General, referred to the words of the congregation’s founder Mother Teresa Eva Potocka, who emphasized moral and spiritual renewal for the lapsed faithful amid difficult situations.
“If I managed to save at least one soul thanks to my labors, if I managed to snatch at least one for God, this would already be a generous reward,” Mother Potocka wrote. “Is it really a small thing to save one soul? This thought inspires me to work, gives me courage and fortitude in the greatest difficulties.”
As part of anniversary celebrations, the nuns visited the tomb of Sister Petkevich, the first missionary nun from the congregation to arrive in the country. She died on Sept. 12, 1996, and was buried in Petropavlovsk city.
Divine Mercy nuns make mercy a central theme of their spirituality and charism. Their motto is: “To cooperate with the Mercy of God (Divine Mercy) in the work of rescuing lost souls.”
For more than 150 years, the nuns have been preaching the message of Divine Mercy in shrines, parishes and prisons.
They form the Apostles of The Divine Mercy in the international “Faustinum” Association and teach religious education in schools
The nuns run the “Misericordia” Publishing House and edit the “Orędzie Miłosierdzia” (Message of Mercy) quarterly and they work in conjunction with the media.
Currently, the congregation has 400 nuns serving in Poland, Ukraine, the USA, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Italy, Brazil, and Cuba.
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