Blessed Frances Siedliska – Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

My preparations for writing this chapter began with some trepidation, as the life and works of the extraordinary woman to be investigated had touched me personally, shaping my youth and initiating me into the transcendental delights of a spiritual journey, that began when I was fourteen years of age and is still going strong in the twilight years of my life. As I commenced the research and reached for a book that was a narrative of the life of Mother Mary Frances Siedliska – the very first page I accessed, had a photo of this remarkable woman known as Blessed Frances Siedliska, Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Though it had been many years since I had seen the image of Blessed Mother Mary Frances, my heart and emotions responded immediately. Tears gathered and threatened to fall – memories came flooding back of times past – a youth spent – memories of young teenagers gifting themselves to God, while just emerging from childhood! Echoes resounded from long ago of young voices – some coming from a dormitory whispering: “Is that the sound of rosary beads on the stairs? Perhaps it is the mistress of aspirants coming to check that we have retired for the evening – do you think she knows that we went downstairs to the kitchen in the middle of the night to eat toffee apples”?

Most of my friends and I had entered the convent as aspirants at fourteen years of age, and then what seemed to be no time at all, we were going on sixteen and already postulants. We studied, prayed, giggled and laughed together. We were novices when the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was convening in Rome, and this momentous, religious event in the Church, heralded change for the Church and for all religious congregations. We quickly adapted to the new rules and regulations, and meditation and prayer guided us as we performed our everyday duties.