March 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 8

Saint Of The Month

Bl. Maria Karlowska – March 24

Photo of Bl. Maria KarlowskaMaria Karlowska was born on September 4, 1865 in Slupowka (today, Karlowo) in the Pomerania region of Poland. She came from a landowning family but was more interested in the fate of girls in moral danger from poor families. She met these girls when she began teaching new workers at her sisterís dressmaking shop after the death of her parents in 1882. She taught the girls this profession and after work visited the poorest streets in Poznan, to help those suffering. In order to fulfill her mission, she gave up family life, taking a private vow of chastity. At first Maria concealed her service from her community, to avoid criticism and defamation that was likely to be aimed at a noblewoman visiting bad neighborhoods. Regardless, she was full of commitment and courage.

In 1884 she began to work openly since the girls she saved from prostitution needed her to provide them with a place to live and an opportunity to learn a profession. The institution she founded was called the Good Shepherd Institution.

This was the beginning of a movement that started Sisters of the Good Shepherd and Divine Providence. The Congregation founding date is believed to be 1894.

Maria Karlowska's actions won the approval of German authorities that were unfriendly toward Catholicism, as well as of Polish citizens after Poland regained independence in 1918. But that recognition never translated into financial support. Maria and the sisters had to courageously carry the burden of responsibility for the emerging monastic houses and rehabilitation centers. Mother Maria died on March 24, 1935 in Pniewite in Pomerania.

She was beatified on June 6, 1997.

Jesus Christ,
You were accused of meeting with tax collectors,
sinners and harlots.
Bl. Maria Karlowska imitated Your courage
in love for sinners.
Let her witness strengthen in our hearts
the faith that You do not turn away from sinners.
You live and reign for ages and ages.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives