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Bl. Celina Chludzińska v. Borzęcka (1833-1913)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection


Celine Chludzinska Borzecka was born on 29 October 1833 in Antowil, Orsza (formerly Polish territory, today Belarus), to Ignatius and Petronella Chludzinski, whose families were wealthy landowners. One of three children, she grew up in an environment of sound Catholic and patriotic traditions, and was home schooled, as was the custom of the time.

Celine's interior life developed early in response to a question she posed in prayer:  "What do you want me to do with my life, Lord?". Although she had discerned a religious vocation, she met opposition; obedient to the will of her parents and counsel of her confessor, she married Joseph Borzecki at age 20.

Celine Borzecka, deeply loved by her husband, was in turn a loving and exemplary wife who shared responsibility for his estate and showed concern for the poor. She bore him four children, two of whom died in infancy. She educated her two surviving daughters, Celine and Hedwig, and her respect for God's work in every person's life led her to leave each daughter free to chose her own vocation in life.

In 1869, her husband, Joseph, suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed. To give him the best medical treatment possible Celine moved her family to Vienna. There she cared for her husband's physical and spiritual needs for the five years of his infirmity prior to his death in 1874.

After Joseph's death, Celine Borzecka and her daughters travelled to Rome to broaden their spiritual and cultural horizons and for Celine to receive clarification on God's will in her life.

During this time, Celine met the Co-Founder of the Resurrectionists, Fr Peter Semenenko, who had long-desired a female branch of the Congregation of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He became her spiritual guide and  she  drew  from  his  spirituality what would become the motto of the Order she would found: Through the Cross and Death to Resurrection and Glory.

In 1882 Celine Borzecka, her younger daughter Hedwig (her older daughter, Celine, had already married) and two other women began a life in community in Rome under the spiritual direction of Fr Semenenko. Soon, however, the little flock was sorely tried with Fr Peter's unexpected death in 1886. This led to conflicting opinions as to whether the new community should disband or join another Community.

Celine, however, remained firm in her conviction that God willed a new Congregation of women devoted to the Mystery of the Resurrection, thus living the personal, communal and apostolic dimensions of life through the power that comes from the Risen Lord.

With the help of friends, Celine Borzecka opened her first afternoon school for girls in 1887. Here, Mons. Giacomo della Chiesa, the future Pope Benedict XV, whose parents lived nearby, served as chaplain and catechist.

After years of trial and suffering, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection was officially founded in Rome on 6 January 1891. On that date Celine and her daughter Hedwig, the Co-Foundress, professed final vows as Sisters of the Resurrection while a number of other candidates professed temporary vows.

By the Fall of 1891 Mother Celine opened her first house near Wadowice, in Kety, Poland. The new Congregation was thus beginning to accomplish its goal of renewing society through education. It began to grow and soon foundations spread to Bulgaria, the United States and other areas of Poland.

As Mother Celine advanced in years there was a general consensus that Mother Hedwig would take her place. But Mother Hedwig died suddenly on 27 September 1906 at the age of 43 in Kety, Poland. Her own Mother bore this suffering heroically and told her Sisters that "a soul is able to endure everything for the love of Jesus".

Mother Celine continued to lead the Congregation and in 1911 convoked the first General Chapter. She was elected Superior General ad vitam. Her last years were spent in intense correspondence with and visitation to her Sisters, forming them in the Order's spirituality.

During her last days she often repeated: "Be saints", and when she was no longer able to speak she wrote: "In God there is happiness forever". She died on 26 October 1913 in Krakow.