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The Lord has called me – Interview with Sister Franciszka Marchelak

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“A religious vocation gives happiness that the world cannot give. If man yields to the will of the Most High, he thinks of nothing and becomes a blind instrument of God” – Blessed Father Kłopotowski.

How was your vocation born?

I started thinking about vocation when I was in my first year of secondary school…or maybe even earlier. I wondered about the word “vocation” – what it meant and how to understand that the Lord was calling someone? I searched for answers in Scripture, various books and testimonies of vocations. But above all – in my relationship with Jesus in prayer. After reading St. Faustina’s Diary, I wrote down in my diary: “I am going to be a religious sister, only I don’t know yet in which congregation”. And so I gradually discovered this vocation in myself.

When I first went on retreat to Loretto and met the Loretto sisters, I felt a great peace in my heart and a great desire to be like them. At that time, I still had two years of high school to complete and a high school diploma to pass. For those two years, the thought never left me alone. The Lord drew me more and more to Himself and the Loretto nuns disarmed me with their openness and hospitality. The Marian spirit and this atmosphere of Loretto – the Loretto House where the Holy Family resided, delighted me greatly. It was here with the sisters that one could talk, pray, laugh, and above all feel completely at home.

It was there, through frequent returns to retreats or just like that – out of a desire of the heart, staying on my knees before Our Lady, advising Fr. Kłopotowski that I prepared myself and my family for this final decision. The answer to the question of what really influenced this choice remains a mystery to me too. One thing is true – the Lord called me and it was in this congregation that I discovered that right place which gave and continues to give me confidence that I have chosen the right path – the one the Lord has set for me. Isn’t it worth leaving everything to receive even more? I did and I have no regrets!

How long have you been in the congregation?

I have been in the congregation since August 2003. I joined after finishing high school and passing my baccalaureate. After eight years of formation, I made my perpetual profession, vowing to God chastity, poverty and obedience.

What is most important to you in the charism left by Father Kłopotowski?

Father Ignacy bequeathed to us – as his spiritual daughters – an extraordinarily rich charism which is still very relevant today. For me, the most important thing is that we respond to the needs of the Church today with the words: “that in everything God may be glorified”. It is therefore about integrating everything we undertake into the salvific mission of Christ. The great concern for Loretto women is that the apostolate of the printed word which has so far developed in four countries (Poland, Italy, Romania and Ukraine), should reach all people – without exception and to the ends of the earth. Our response to the needs of the Church also includes helping children in need of warmth or attention, serving the elderly in nursing homes, ministering in parishes and in our religious communities. We are only able to fulfil our daily mission in union with the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ and also with Mary who is the model of sacrificial service to humanity. It is union with Christ and sacrificial work that sanctifies our whole life.

What is your main task in the congregation?

I am now in my sixth year working at the Loretto Sisters’ Publishing House, in the so-called computer room. I help in typesetting and graphic design. Previously I also worked at our publishing house Mimep-Docete in Italy. Almost all of my religious life, apart from my time of formation, has been dedicated to an occupation that our Father Founder loved immensely – that of working in the apostolate with the printed word which is our main charism. Among other things, I have undertaken work in the bookbindery, in the print shop and in editing. Despite the hardships, this work gives me a lot of joy. It gives me the opportunity to develop my hidden talents, acquire new skills and so imperceptibly reach many people with the Good News of Jesus whom, with my shyness, I would not humanly be able to reach.

How is the memory of Father Founder continued in the congregation?

The memory of Father continues uninterrupted in our congregation. Even during his lifetime, Father used to say: “don’t worry when I die. Then I will be able to ask more from God, I will take care of you more. I am your Father and I will always be your Father”. In the community of sisters, there was a conviction of Father’s holiness from the very beginning. It happened very often that in the difficult beginnings of the congregation, they experienced interventions from heaven which they attributed to their Father. This is still the case today. Father Founder accompanies us in our daily life. Every day, communally and individually, we bring our petitions to him, we enrich ourselves with his words – we read his brief thoughts so that they influence our daily life. It is as if he himself were whispering in each sister’s ear: “there is nothing left for you on this earth but to pray and to suffer, to pray and to forgive, to pray and to love”.

Father Founder can be seen in each of our homes. His relics are venerated in them and each of us also owns one. In many rooms of our houses, Fr. Ignacy is depicted on pictures, as if he himself were constantly accompanying us.

I am amazed by his fatherly kindness, his attention to every Loretto woman – he does it like a real Father and in a special place by his sarcophagus in the Loretto chapel he has already wiped away more than one of my tears.

The choice of the religious life is not popular among girls today. Is it a path which brings happiness?

In answering this question, I will use the words of Father Founder, who repeated: “a religious vocation gives happiness which the world cannot give. If man yields to the will of the Most High, he thinks of nothing and becomes a blind instrument of God”. It is walking this path that has made me happy and I continue to affirm with joy after almost 20 years. Today, I cannot imagine any other path that would give me greater happiness.

It is thanks to the Bridegroom that my love for Him becomes fresh every morning – like the morning dew. It is in a relationship with Him that I discover myself as a woman who can give much because she receives incredibly much. And I am sure that the Lord has called me precisely to make me happy. And to all the girls who think that religious life is no longer for today, I wish you to trust in the Lord and have courage because it really is worth it….


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