There is no daughter of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, there is no Sister of Saint Felix of Cantalice who would not know that the day of November 21, the Feast of Presentation of the 3-year-old Mary in the Temple to the service of the Most High God, is so closely related to the dedication of the two first Felicians to the service of Our Lord Jesus [Zofia Truszkowska, who took the name Angela and Klotylda Ciechanowska, who took the name Weronika]. It is like no other day recorded in the history of the Congregation, because on this day it began to exist officially.
When in 1855 Angela Truszkowska moved with the children and the elderly, who were under her protection, to a more spacious apartment at Mostowa Street in Warsaw, she decided to start a new life with a special blessing of God and to prepare the dedication of the house. Therefore, she asked Father Honorat Kozminski, the Capuchin priest, to preside a ceremony of dedication, and to make the ceremony more solemn, she placed the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which she had received from countess Wrotnowska, in the central place. In front of this icon, she and Klotylda, made simple promise to devote themselves to the service of Mary in accordance to the Most Holy Will of Her Son, Jesus Christ. They made the promises in the presence of Father Honorat, who was their spiritual director. At that time, they did not yet realize well that by belonging to Mary they were more closely united with Jesus and that their hearts belonged entirely to the Spouse of Virgins.
From that day on, the beautiful icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was called the icon of Our Lady “the Foundress”, because all the goodness that happened at home and in the young Congregation was attributed to Mary. This way, the Blessed Virgin Mary became the Foundress and the First Superior of the new Congregation, and the proper Foundress – Angela Truszkowska – was her vicar.
To this day, there still exists the Book of Elections of the Most Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary as the General Superior of the Congregation of Saint Felix of the Third Order of Saint Father Francis, started in 1864. This book, covered in brown leather with an embossed Heart of Mary on the front cover, contains the act of election of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Supreme Superior of the Congregation handwritten by Father Honorat, as well as subsequent renewals of this act.
The excerpt of the act, which was pronounced by Mother Angela, the General Vicar of the Congregation, kneeling in front of the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the “Foundress”, is very touching. I, your unworthy handmaid, whom you commissioned with governing of this Congregation, now feeling my insufficiency to fulfill this duty – humbly beg You, my Lady and My Mother, to accept this governing graciously. I place into your hands the seal as a sign of the authority and I hand over the keys of the entire house, that you would guard and defend us and rule us and bless us until the end of time. I declare, therefore, that from this day on, I am not the superior of this Congregation, but You, the Queen of Heaven, are our Mother, our Lady, Master and Superior, and the government of this Congregation and of this house belongs only to You.
From that moment on, on November 21, this act of election was pronounced in front of the icon of Our Lady the “Foundress”, which was placed in the convent chapel on a separate altar. Mother Elisabeth Stummer reports in a letter written to Father Honorat in 1866-1867, that even Bishop Dunajewski was present at the election of Our Lady and that he was extremely pleased with the ceremony.
Mother Mary Magdalene Borowska, Superior General of the Congregation from 1871-1915, before her departure for Rome in 1874 in order to obtain from the Holy See the approval of the Congregation, informs the Sisters in the long Circular Letter, that the Holy Father Pius IX in his “unspeakable grace”, confirmed the election of the Immaculate Virgin Mary as the General Superior of our Congregation, and the Sisters appointed for the service were recognized as Vicars or substitutes.
To commemorate these events also now the Felician Sisters of the entire Congregation are preparing themselves with a special novena, concluding the preparation on the vigil of the Feast with fast and abstinence. On the very day, they renew their vows and submit to the Most Blessed Mother an act of servitude, while kneeling in front of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
This day, great in the history of the Congregation, is and will be a day never forgotten. The Felicians love this Day, because on this day Mary always loved to give them something and She continues to do it. Their Foundress, Blessed Mary Angela, loved that day and on that day she always received a gift from Mary, she always expected some greater grace from Her. This day was the favorite day of Her heart, one of the most pleasant day of the year.
When we go through the cards of the “History of the Congregation”, we see that this day was the most significant and truly providential in its history:
On November 21, 1865, Fr. Josaphat Sobierajski celebrated the first Holy Mass in the newly decorated chapel at Mikolajska Street in Krakow, where the Sisters, scattered by the suppression in the Polish Kingdom, began to gather again into Congregation. As ten years ago this day was the founding day of the Congregation, so then, in 1865 it was the day when the dedication to the Lord Jesus of the first Felicians was confirmed after the example of the Immaculate Virgin in the temple
In one year at that time, on November 21, 1866, the dedication of the house and the chapel at Smolensk Street took place where there was a Shelter. Mother Foundress, despite her illness, after her arrival from Lowicz, participated in this ceremony.
On November 21, 1868, Mary Angela, made her perpetual vows as the first of all the Sisters, and from that time on many occasions there were ceremonies of profession and investitures of her spiritual daughters.
On November 21, 1874, Fr. Joseph Dabrowski celebrated the first Holy Mass in a small room in Polonia, Wisconsin, on the other hemisphere, where the Felician Sisters arrived on the eve of this Feast in order to proclaim the Gospel to the little ones and to serve Christ in the poorest and the suffering.
On November 21, 1879, the Congregation received a permission for the forty-hour exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament before the Presentation of the BVM in the chapel of the Motherhouse at Smolensk Street in Krakow, since the church was not there yet.
On the eve of the Presentation of the BVM, on November 20, 1896, the USA government officially accepted the Felician Sisters.
On November 21, 1945, the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began in the resurrected Warsaw Province, in the chapel of the Motherhouse in the Wawer district of Warsaw.
On November 21, 1950, the Information Process for the beatification of Mary Angela Truszkowska was published and the documentation was given to be retyped by the copyists under oath.
[the text based on the notes of Sister Mary Rafaela Czernigiewicz, CSSF]