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Novena, fifth week

Today, on the liturgical commemoration of all the departed faithful, we Sisters of Mary Immaculate gather in this Church of Our Lady in Piasek Island , which is very dear to us. In the side chapel with the stained glass window of St. Maximilian Kolbe, there are the mortal remains of our Founder. He was buried there in April 1969, after he was exhumed from the cemetery of St. Wawrzyniec, where he rested from 1944 in the quarters of the Marian Sisters. This transfer happened at the request of Cardinal Bolesław Kominek, who considered Father John Schneider a priest of merit for the Wrocław church.

With the church and parish of Our Lady in the Piasek Island, servant of God, Fr. John Schneider worked for three years – from 1851 to 1854. Bishop Melchior von Diepenbrock sent him on 9 September 1851 as a vicar for the priestly ministry in this place. Parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1851 had about 1,500 believers. The parish temple was built in the years 1334-1425, in the mid-nineteenth century it had a baroque decor. The monastery of the Augustinian Fathers adjoined the temple. In 1810, the monks had to leave the monastery and church, which was taken over by the Wrocław diocese. Inside the church, there was a large pulpit and richly decorated altars and stalls, which were irretrievably destroyed during the defense of Wrocław in 1945. Our Founder is remembered by the walls of this temple, the baptismal font and the figures of angels under the ribs of the vault.

Fr. John Schneider first worked at the side of Fr. Franciszek Hoffmann, who was formally the parish priest in the years 1848-1852, and from November 12, 1852, Fr. Józef Wick. From 1848, the vicar was Fr. Robetr Spiske, with whom our Founder established a friendly relationship.

From 1848, the association of Catholic Married Women under the invocation of St. Hedwig was established. It included about 3,000 members from all over Wrocław. Most of them were teachers. Thanks to the good formation provided by Fr. Robert Spisky, these women had a good understanding of the plight of the poor people in the city. They took care of sick people, prisoners and neglected children. From this association emerged in 1959 the female congregation of the Sisters of St. Hedwig of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, based on the rule of St. Augustine.

The service of the Servant of God, Father John Schneider in the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Piasek Island and contacts with the above-mentioned priests were an important contribution to the development of his pastoral and social formation. They prepared him for the tasks of an apostle of mercy and a religious giver. In the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he gained the opinion of an excellent preacher, confessor and organizer.

Father John Schneider did not enjoy good health. Difficult material conditions in childhood and poor nutrition in adolescence influenced his physical condition. In July 1853, he was forced to stop his pastoral work and go to a four-week treatment.

The successor of Cardinal Melchior von Diepenbrock, Bishop Henryk Förster, who learned about his pastoral talents, especially in the spiritual care of girls and servants, appointed him on April 3, 1854 as an administrator of the parish of St. Matthias.

Sr. M. Elżbieta Cińcio

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