Sr. M. Hedwig Wronska
She lived for 70 years and died on her birthday, October 31. The life of Sister M. Hedwig (Lucia Wronska) spanned the years between 1914 and 1984. She entered the Congregation of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, the first of many Polish women. She was known to all simply as “Mother Hedwig”. Her life was lived in the shadow and turmoil of two world wars. Lucia was born two months after the beginning of the First World War. At that time, Poland did not exist on the map of Europe, having been partitioned. The Church Registers were not written in Polish, so her baptismal certificate was written in the Russian language.
On the last train, before the outbreak of World War II, Lucia left for Italy to begin her novitiate. She died during the years of the “war” against the Church led by the communists, as evidenced by the fact that the body of the murdered Father Giorgio Popieluszko, today a blessed martyr, was found precisely in the days when she was dying. The funerals of both Father Giorgio and Sr Hedwig fell on the same day and at the same time.
Lucia was born near Warsaw. Despite the difficult situation in the country, she graduated in accounting from the Warsaw School of Economics. We do not know how she met our sisters. We can only assume that she met them during the so-called “propaganda”, that is, the distribution of books published by Pauline priests. After joining, she helped the sisters in this apostolate.
At the end of August 1939, Lucia left for Alba where she did her novitiate. She belonged to the second group of novices who were formed separately from the Daughters of St. Paul. At the time of her profession she was given the name of St. Hedwig of Silesia. Her program of life outlined at her first profession was very simple: “In everything, always, worship God.”
The time of her vows coincided with the end of the Second World War. At that time, it was possible to return to her homeland to revitalize the community of sisters. She left with Sister M. Timotea Bovetti and Sister M. Aura Ciraulo: they travelled through Hungary and arrived in Poland one month later. Warsaw, the birthplace of Mother Jadwiga, was completely destroyed after the uprising (1944). The sisters stayed in Częstochowa. They had to start everything from scratch …
Mother Hedwig spent 30 years of her ministry in an extremely difficult period for the Polish Church. She guided the postulants; she was also regional councilor and superior of the house. All her life she served the sisters as a seamstress. She was always a servant, ever ready to sacrifice, always zealous, joyful with her “Magnificat!”, especially in adversity. The sisters remember that when she began to sing, “My soul magnifies the Lord…!”, it was clear that she was suffering. It was her answer to difficulties. And they were huge!
During the years of the greatest persecution of the Church by the communist regime, Mother Hedwig was the official representative of the sisters in the State. The actual superior was Sister M. Timotea Bovetti, but as she was an Italian citizen (a person from Western Europe was understood as a spy), she could not expose herself and the community to perpetual surveillance. Despite this, the sisters were followed, summoned for questioning, and sometimes arrested and taken into custody.
In the dark era of the nineteen fifties, many convents were deprived of their property: schools, kindergartens, and hospitals. Although there was still nothing to take away from the fledgling community of Pious Disciples, the sisters feared arrest and deportation to places of forced labor. This was a frequent experience even for religious congregations. In this atmosphere, Mother Hedwig accompanied the “Sisters of the First Hour” in Poland.
Constantly concerned about the needs of the sisters, she died almost unexpectedly and went to the Lord after a brief illness. It was at the time when the congregation was celebrating its patronal feast, the Feastday of Jesus, the Divine Master. No longer able to participate in the liturgy with the sisters, the Mass was celebrated at her bedside by Fr Innocenzo Dante, a Pauline priest. During the night of 30th – 31st October, during the Night Adoration, the life of Mother Hedwig was extinguished like a candle in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Bishop Tadeusz Szwagrzyk, who presided over the funeral ceremony, said of her:
“The young Lucia was fascinated by the Eucharistic spirituality. This was expressed in the responsibility of a daily two-hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: a ministry that Fr Alberione entrusted to the Congregation of the Pious Disciples as a contribution to the life of the Church, the Pauline Family, and the whole world. It is thanks to Mother Hedwig’s contribution that we have the presence in Poland of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master and of the entire Pauline Family”.
In fact, her prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist, especially during night adoration, combined with her humility and her sufferings endured in silence, laid a strong foundation for the development of the Pauline Family. During the funeral ceremony, Sister M. Ieronima Chmielewska spoke on behalf of the sisters: “We thank the Divine Master for all his gifts and graces, and the Mother of God, whom you have followed so faithfully by living the mystery of the “Magnificat” and loving your neighbor. Thank you for your love of God, for your good example and your zeal. May the One to whom you have entrusted yourselves be your highest reward.”