Kierocińska Janina

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Story of Rescue - Kierocińska Janina

Mother Teresa of St. Joseph(Janina) Kierocińska and Father Anzelm Gądek (1884-1969) established the Convent of Carmelite Sisters of the Infant Jesus in 1921. It were founded on December 31 in Cracow. For 25 years, Mother Teresa served in Sosnowiec and Zagłębie as the Convent’s superior general. She created a kindergarten, an embroidery and sowing workshop for girls and a school for the poorest children at the Carmelite Convent at 25 Wiejska St. (today Matki Teresy Kierocińskiej St.) in Sosnowiec.

During World War II, Mother Teresa and the sisters organized help for the needy. She offered shelter to Home Army soldiers and girls who were threaten with being deported to Germany as forced laborers. She also helped Auschwitz concentration camp inmates by sending them parcels with food and clothes made by the sisters. She also organized secret schooling in the Sosnowiec convent.

Helping children was particularly important for Mother Teresa Kierocińska. She established an orphanage in which she took care of children rescued from concentration camps and orphans whose parents died or were missing in the aftermath of military operations. Children who were taken in by the Carmelites after the Warsaw Uprising was suppressed constituted a large group.

Also Jews found help in the convent. In September 1942 a clerk whose first name was Wacław came to the Carmelite sisters with a nearly dyingseveral-months-old child whose mother was taken away to a concentration camp. The girl received new “Aryan” first and last names –Teresa Jadwiga Jaworska – and stayed in the convent until the end of the war. In the summer of 1946, the mother came for her daughter and they both moved to Katowice. After some time, the sisters were informed that little Teresa died in a children’s hospital in Katowice.

In March 1943, the convent took in children bought out by Polish railway workers from a train going from Warsaw to Oświęcim (Auschwitz). A Jewish boy of unknown identity was among them. He was given the name of Józef Bombecki, and a probable date of birth was written into his birth certificate.

“The first meal consisted of grits with butter, in the basements of a three-story building that was under construction. I remember the sisters in white veils who took care of us, because I was not alone, but in a larger group of boys. Thanks to the Beloved Mother I was spared from death. When the Gestapo came for inspections, Mother Teresa always took me to the closed part of the convent because I looked like a Jewish child. The sisters created family conditions for us and took care of us with extreme kindness. It was heroic! (...) I regard the Sosnowiec Carmelite Sisters Convent as my family home and Mother Teresa as my foster Mother,” survivor Józef recalled years later.

The boy stayed in the convent until he became adult and learned a profession. He kept in touch with the Carmelite Sisters Convent until his death.

Father Mieczysław Zawadzki, a long-time Holy Trinity Parish priest in Będzin, also sent Jews he knew to Mother Teresa Kierocińska. In 1989, Father Zawadzki was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title. In his memoirs, he wrote:

“The superior general said: »No one can leave our gate while being hungry«. The times of the persecution of Jews came. A Mrs. Troppauer came to me with an old lady Pinkus and a small girl, asking to hide the girl and her grandmother, both Jewish. I thought: Mother Kierocińska will help me. Indeed, despite the huge risk, she accepted both of them to the Sisters’ convent and kept throughout the war. I also know of many other cases where the superior general saved poor Jewish children from certain death.”

Mrs. Pinkus and her granddaughter Marysia Wilczyńska left for Israel after the war. During the journey the girl contracted scarlet fever and died soon after.

Witnesses recall other forms of help offered to Jews by the Carmelite sisters, such as providing bread to people hiding in cellars or those herded to the Sosnowiec stadium and the nearby school in Składowa St., where they were kept before being taken away to labor camps.

“Day and night we heard screams of tormented, beaten and tortured Jews. Mother Teresa and her Sisters prayed for the suffering Jews. She often saw inmates coming in single file to the pot to get soup. She heard Jews being beaten in the face. At such moments she begged for God’s Mercy on them,” one of the sisters wrote.

Mother Teresa Kierocińska died in Sosnowiec on July 12, 1946. In 1983-1988, her beatification procedure was conducted in the Częstochowa Diocese. Thanks to efforts by Andrzej Siemiątkowski, who was saved by the sisters, she was posthumously awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1992. In 2013, Pope Francis signed a decree of heroic virtue, and since then on she may be referred to as a Venerable Servant of God.

Bibliography

  • Strona internetowa o Matce Teresie od św. Józefa
  • Strona internetowa Krakowskiej Prowincji Karmelitów Bosych
  • Zieliński Jerzy, Matka Zagłębia, Kraków 2014
  • Siostry Karmelitanki Dzieciątka Jezus, Z sercem i chlebem na dłoni, Sosnowiec 2005
  • Gogola Jerzy (red.), Świadek miłości Boga i człowieka, Kraków 2006
  • Dubel Konrada, Gałązka Włodzimierz, Urbański Stanisław, Miłość Boga mierzy się miłością bliźniego, Kraków 2011
  • Malinowska Anna, Druga strona lustra. Dzieje kościoła Świętej Trójcy w Będzinie, Będzin 2011
  • Archiwum Matki Teresy Kierocińskiej w Sosnowcu, Dokumenty i wspomnienia świadków życia M. Teresy Kierocińskiej