Compassion Magazine

Sisters of Jesus Crucified

Sr Aloysia The Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and the Sorrowful Mother was founded by Rev. Alphonsus Maria Urbanowicz, C.P. in 1923. (right: Sr Aloysia, oldest living member of the community, next to portrait of Fr Alphonsus)

Father Alphonsus was born in Lithuania in 1884. As a teenager he had risked his life in Lithuania smuggling Lithuanian prayerbooks and newspapers across the Prussian border at a time when Latin letters were suppressed by the Russian Czar. Later he immigrated to the United States and joined the Passionist Congregation at St. Ann's Monastery in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he continued to work among the Lithuanian people in his adopted country.

While conducting missions in Pennsylvania, Father Alphonsus Maria saw the urgent need for a religious congregation of women in the impoverished coal regions of the state to shelter orphans and widows of deceased miners and so the Sisters of Jesus Crucified had their beginning. Five of the first six sisters were born in Lithuania. Four of the women were working in Boston and the other two were living in Pennsylvania. Under the guidance of Father Alphonsus the future sisters were sent to established religious communities; the Sisters of the Cross and Passion in England, Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the Dominican Sisters in Amityville, New York for formation.

In October, 1923 Father Alphonsus called this small group of women to their new home, on the Wehrum estate, which they named St. Mary's Villa Convent, in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania. There the fledgling community cared for orphans and provided a home for widows. In November, 1923, a petition for approval was sent to Rome. On January 21, 1924, Rome formally approved the new congregation as the Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and the Sorrowful Mother.

In 1943 the orphanage in Elmhurst burned down and since it was not possible to rebuild, the children then made their home with other religious communities in the area. At that time the sisters were asked by the Bishop of Scranton to specialize in the care of the aged. The sisters also expanded their ministry to include education, teaching in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Kansas.

In 1945 at the invitation of then Archbishop Richard Cushing, the motherhouse moved to Brockton, Massachusetts. Today, the sisters teach in one elementary school in the Archdiocese of Boston, sponsor a long-term care facility in Brockton Massachusetts and a nursing home and assisted living facility in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania.

--Sr. Mary Ann Strain, C.P.

 

 

 

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