Blessed Mary Stella and Companions

When life is built on and around love, it has a special kind of strength, even in the most difficult kind of circumstances. It has the resilience of steel without being stoic; it has a flexibility to shape to the challenges, without closing in on itself; it embraces the harshness of everyday realities, because it grasps a meaning of love that outlasts death.

One example of such heroic love is found in the story of Sister Stella and her ten companions, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the martyrs of Nowogródek. Their story of love and resilience begins when the first group of Sisters arrived in Nowogródek on 4 September 1929. At the time, Nowogródek was a small town in the eastern part of the Republic of Poland, now known as Belarus. This town embraced a diversity of people, including Belarusians, Russians, Poles, Jews, Muslims and others. When the Sisters arrived, they were not universally welcomed.

Establishing themselves in the convent under the patronage of Christ the King, the Sisters worked strenuously to identify the local needs they could address. Initially the Sisters opened a school which was linked with the Church of the Transfiguration, called Biala Fara meaning the White Church. The school was open to Christians and non-Christians. With tenacity they approached the challenges of this new apostolic work, and with the same fervour the lived their religious and community life, providing a witness of a live filled with faith, hope and love. It is not surprising that the Sisters were gradually at least respected and even accepted by the locals.Read More »