Background of the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate Sisters
The Little Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate, commonly known as ‘Kasisi Sisters’ or ‘Blue Nuns/ Sisters’, arrived in Northern Rhodesia ( Zambia) in 1928.They are one of the four Religious Congregations of women who joined the Church’s efforts in Zambia still in the very early days of the missionary work in this country. These were the Missionary Sisters of Africa (White Sisters) who came to Zambia in 1902. Then in 1924 the Dominican Sisters came to Kasisi from Zimbabwe. In 1926 Bishop Etienne founded the Sisters of the Child Jesus who served in various fields. Eventually, the LSMI came from Poland invited by Polish Jesuit Fathers who at that time were almost the only ones working in the part of Zambia south of Serenje and west of Eastern Province. The LSMI were founded in 1850 in Poland by a layman, now Blessed Edmund Bojanowski.
Unmarried, Bojanowski put all his family resources, his mind and heart to this task. Having found a few young women of noble heart similar to his, he instructed them and sent them into villages and small townships to visit, instruct and help uplift the women always with Christ in their hearts in order to build up the local church and surrounding country.
Difficulties and opposition mounted from all sides. “Look a bachelor is gathering young women around himself and he directs them”. Yet, despite all the opposition, this was the birth of the Congregation of the Little Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate.
The name and spirit of the new congregation reflect well the personal spirituality of Father Bojanowski which he instilled into that Congregation. The humble Virgin of Nazareth, herself totally attuned to be the devoted Handmaid of the Lord, was to be the model and guide of the new Congregation. “Little Servants”, like Mary, were to serve in humility, totally and without looking for their own glory. With Mary in littleness, humility and total availability, LSMI were to work for the spiritual and social uplifting of the poor, especially women. This is the spirit and Charism of this congregation.
The LSMI as a Congregation spread quickly through the whole of Poland – sure sign that it was needed and welcomed. Due to the political situation in the country in the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century – the partitioning and occupation of Poland by different foreign powers – there was no continuous, normal communication between the established convents and their headquarters. The congregation, thus, split into four branches, all still preserving their sisterly relationship and charism of the founder. From one of these branches, the Zambian foundation was made.
Today both in Poland and in Zambia, the LSMI are engaged in all kinds of social and spiritual work: education, hospitals, orphanages, the education of women in home economics and home – craft centres, Church organizations and parish work. After their arrival in 1928, the first LSMI went to Chingombe, Kasisi and Katondwe, to the very isolated and challenging missions. Today the Zambian Province has eighteen establishments in four dioceses in Zambia, four in South Africa, two in Malawi and one in Tanzania.
The first pioneer sisters came from Poland and worked in the spirit of their charism serving the needy without counting the cost in time or energy. The names of pioneer sisters are Sister Christiana Gondek, Sister CyprianaMalecka, Sister StanislawaLabno, Sister UrsualWiktor, Sister FydolinaMacior, Sister RomanaWilk, Sister PetronelaKrypel, Sister AloizaKrypel, Sister RufinaSwirska, Sister AmaliaRozowicz, Sister AdalbertaRaychel, Sister Gertrude Belch, Sister MelaniaGalus, Sister Adolfa Pieta, Sister Lawrence Dydek and Sister SeraphiaBednarka. Wherever they served, this was a service of tireless dedication.
No less dedicated were the pioneer post war group of sisters such as Sister MargaretNiemiec, Sister Josepha Oko, and Sister JolantaBajak and the generation of Zambian Sisters who were trained by Sister Stanislawa and her successors.
This charisma formed Blessed Sister Katherine CelestinaFaron who died has a martyr for Jesus on 9thApril, 1944 in the Nazi concentration camp of Oswiecim, during World War II and others whose causes for beatification are being examined like Sister Leona Nastal, Sister RomualdaGzanka, and Sister Hyacintha Lula.
The LSMI Sisters consists of a federation of four religious branches, originating from the 19th century political partition of Poland.
The Little Servants of Mary Immaculate strive to follow Christ more freely and imitate Him more closely by the practice of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience.Attracted by the simplicity, love, and works of mercy of their founder, they desire to make themselves a gift for the whole world. A federation of four religious branches, originating from the same source and divided during the partition of Poland by the bordering nations in the 19th century, today approximately 3,500 members, with religious houses in Poland, and countries throughout Europe, America, Africa and Asia, realize the testament of their founder in communal life and a variety of apostolate.
From their origins, the Jesuit Fathers supported the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate Sisters in their formation. “Edmund Bojanowski entrusted the spiritual care of his first group of sisters in North-western Poland to the Jesuit Father, TheophilusBaczynski. Later, Father Baczynski helped with the establishment of the sisters in Galicia, Southern Poland. Edmund served as an encouraging and disciplined “Father” to the sisters, frequently visiting his spiritual daughters, praying with them, directing and observing their progress and writing the original rules.” The order expanded and the Sisters established schools, hospitals, hostels and homes and they became known for their great works of charity and commitment to the children, the poor, the sick and the elderly.