Congregation of Sisters of St. Elizabeth (CSSE)
Every person must reach the perfection prudently in the spirit of Christs Gospel on the grounds of natural law, Gods Commandments and other corresponding rules by adjusting to various circumstances in order to realize practically particular activity and the way of life which would serve for the perfection and consecration of oneself and others. (M. Merket)
Foundation in Poland
In the first part of XIX c. there was epidemic of cholera and typhus in the part of Poland that was occupied by Germany. A huge number of people died from these diseases. Most victims were poor and neglected. Lonely and neglected people died in streets and poor houses. Devoted hearts that could help to miserable patients were needed. The Divine chose four women and infused into their hearts love, compassion and the spirit of dedication for serving the poor people. Those women gave the beginning of the foundation of Congregation in Nice town on 27 September, 1842. The founders are Maria Merket, her sister Matilda, Clara Wolf and Franciscka Verner. The credo was chosen for young Congregation: We must make People happy. The founders chose the name of St. Elizabeth Hungarian as a Patroness and Paraclete because they wanted to be blessed by God for the way they had chosen because she was well-known for her kindness to poverty. Sisters-founders served with love to poor people in the name of Christ, and God blessed their sacred, generous and selfless work. Pope Leon XIII confirmed Congregation of sisters of St. Elizabeth on 26 January in 1887.
Foundation of Congregation in Lithuania
After World War I Zofija Smetoniene,wife of President A.Smetona, invited sisters Elizabeth to arrive in Kaunas from Karaliaucius. Three German sisters S. Masalina, S. Gerarda and S. Teresa arrived in 1925. They stayed at sisters Benedictines and started to take care of patients at home, cared for poor people. Over time Lithuanian girls started to enter this Congregation. Although the number of sisters was just 15 but two subsidiary offices were established. One was in Jurbarkas where sisters had an orphanage; the other was in Sveksna, where S. Bonita was building a hospital. Sisters worked in St. Luke hospital in Kaunas.
The sources of spirituality of Congregation:
A place where we realize tasks given by Church and founders is our Congregations separate societies. Society living in a dialogue is a privileged place that witnesses action and proximity of St. Spirit. First of all society as a cell of Church has to undertake life with an earnest prayer in order to radiate in todays more secularized world, because Christ says in Gospel: Apart from Me you cannot do anything(Jn.15,5). Founders realized these Christs words in their life by starting activity and every days work was begun with a prayer. Gods servants Maria Merket and Franciscka Werner deepened spirituality by choosing St. Elizabeth Hungarian (1207-1231) name as a patroness of their congregation in 1850. St. Elizabeth was famous for giving enormous love to God and people, her spirited wish and intention was to make others happy. Respect for Saint Jesus Heart is our most valuable heritage. Following the way of our founders we unclose Jesus love and transmit IT to people. Saint Jesus Heart was a source of light and energy for the founders who sanctified their activity in 1842 during the feast of martyrs and doctors on St. Kozma and Demijohns day. The certificates left by Mother-founders are also spiritual heritage and source that witness about spirit of Congregation. Gods servant Maria Merket just little wrote about St. Jesus Heart, but in her life she tried to foster those virtues which St. Jesus Heart had: implicit love to close people, modesty, patience and humility. She wrote in her letters: Lets sanctify our strengths for Gods honor and always seek for blossoming virtues that are needed to follow sacred vows in our Congregation.
How many times you did this to these young brothers, you did it to me
Our apostle activity appears from Christ love that we individually experience in Holy Spirit, for the sake of mercy. First of all we testify the existence of God then later our activity follows. Our life and unity is to be a sign of hope for the world. Congregation in the spirit of faith with the regard to Church and its charisma is responsible for expanding Mythical Christ body-Church. Sisters care of patients at home, old people who are left without support and work in hospitals. Sisters also work in parishes as sacristans and organists. Preference in this sphere is given to children and youth teaching Christianity while preparing them for the Holy Sacrament. Material and spiritual help is given to families, too.
Integration into Congregation and formation of members comprise of these stages: postulate, noviciate and unionrate. These three stages help deeper understand vocation and consequently grow into spiritual and apostle life of Congregation, the life that is realized through Gospel suggestions: virtue for God, poverty and practicing humility.
General Houses in Rome
Contacts in Lithuania
Houses of convent in Lithuania
1. Congregation of Sisters of St. Elizabeth
2. Congregation of Sisters of St. Elizabeth