Novena – 7th week
The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.
These words of the Good News were taken over by the clerk of the Wrocław police, Mr. Uhden, a zealous Catholic. When Bishop Henry Förster was the parish priest in Kamienna Góra, a police employee served as the mayor. He cooperated fruitfully with the parish priest. The friendly relations with Kamienna Góra remained when they were both promoted to Wrocław.
On January 19, 1854 the former mayor reported to the bishop about the tragic moral situation among the servants. He proposed that one of the Catholic clergies should organize a shelter for servants of the Catholic faith so that they would not have to go to suspicious places for the night. He also proposed to organize an association of Catholic women who, knowing well the needs of the girls, would support the minister of servants.
Bishop Förster passed this report to the dean of Wrocław, Fr. Thiel, the parish priest of the Corpus Christi parish in Wrocław. The dean, after consulting Wrocław parish priests, replied to the Ordinary that he saw the benefits of establishing an association for servants
Bishop Förster instructed the Dean to convene a dean’s conference to discuss the creation of a new pastoral ministry and to appoint a suitable priest from among the priests to organize a shelter for servants and to care for them. All priests unanimously chose Fr. John Schneider, to organize a shelter for the Moral Elevation of Servant Girls. Father John Schneider replied “yes” to the priests’ proposal. At that time, he was only 30 years old, including 5 years as a priest.
Fr. John Schneider acquainted his parishioners with the problem of serving girls and asked for help from his parishioners who knew the working conditions of girls and young women in Wrocław from their autopsy. Seven brave members of the parish of St. Matthias established the board of the new Marian Foundation with Father John Schneider as a leader. To begin with, the foundation rented two rooms for girls in a tenement house near the church of St. Cross, the same one where our Founder lived during his university studies. Each of the members of the Board was commissioned by Father Schneider to look after one of the city’s districts. Women paid special attention to railway stations, because this was where girls looking for work in a big city came and were exposed to pimping. Girls from Upper Silesia and the Opole region came to the Upper Silesian Railway Station (today Wrocław Główny), to the Świebodzki Railway Station from the Sudetes, and to the Marchijski Railway Station from the direction of Zgorzelec.
In mid-October 1854. The Servant of God gave Bishop Förster an approval of the statutes drawn up by the Foundation’s Management Board, which the Wrocław bishop approved without hesitation. Then, Father John handed over the statutes to the police office for an opinion. The document was approved by the police at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, great apostle of works of mercy.
On November 14, 1854 The founder published an appeal to the clergy and lay people in the Silesian Gazette Kościelna under the title ‘A Call for Help. The article showed the main goal of the Foundation: to prepare for life and educate poor girls who have faced the abyss of moral corruption. It was a tragedy that many village girls, due to the lack of proper care, lack of work, accommodation, ignorance of city life, became victims of prostitution. Difficult living conditions were the cause of their crimes, which ended in imprisonment. In this appeal, the author revealed a plan to buy a house so that servants who seek employment can live in it until they find a suitable job. This house would be able to save them from demoralization. He had a chance to buy such a house for 10,000 thalers. Many people with a good and sensitive heart, regardless of religion, responded positively to his appeal. Father John Schneider suggested that Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and St. Rose of Lima, a tertiary of the Dominican Order, were to be the patrons, on December 8 – was the Solemnity feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On December 8, 1854, the members of the Association, families supporting the work and the girls serving themselves at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus received the sacrament of penance and general Holy Communion, and then consecrated themselves to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception as their patron, entrusting themselves and the work of their future to the Mother of God.
What is the place of Our Lady in my life?
Sr.M. Elżbieta Cińcio