Servant of God S. M. Dulcissima Helena Hoffmann SMI
Helena Hoffmann was born two days before Popielec, on Monday, February 7, 1910 in Zgoda (Eintrachthütte), in today’s Świętochłowice district. She was the first child of Albina and Józef Hoffmann. Helena’s father was Józef Hoffmann, born on September 9, 1886 in Gąsiorowice (Gonschiorowitz). Historian, Fr. Joseph Schweter, CSsR, described his nationality as German. Józef was a Silesian from today’s Opole region, probably a traditional one, who spoke both German and Polish. Her mother was Albina Jarzombek, born on December 31, 1889 in Świętochłowice (Schwientochlowitz), to a family with a Polish orientation. In 1912, from this marriage, Reinhold was born – Helena’s younger brother. In 1916, the girl began studying at the 7-grade Public General School in Zgoda. As a schoolgirl, she was distinguished by a cheerful disposition and many abilities. Good memory and sharp mind allowed her to quickly learn both German and Polish; She also did not avoid Silesian dialect. Helena liked to learn, she easily gained new skills, she belonged to the theater club. From an early age, she liked to pray, appreciated the value of sacramental, often attended the Eucharist, and also had a passion for adoration and to the Blessed Virgin. The encouragement of her first confessor, parish priest Fr. Edward Adamczyk, to build a “chapel” in her heart for the Savior became for Helena the key to understanding her inner life.
Hoffmann’s first Holy Communion was made on May 5, 1921. After the celebration of the First Holy Communion, Helena, while digging in the field, came across a medallion depicting a nun holding a cross and roses. She didn’t know who it was. But – vaguely – she remembered that before her first confession she had dreamed of a similar figure and that she had been strengthened then. A little later, the girl in one of the religious magazines saw a photo of the same character. In one of Helen’s dreams she introduced herself to St. Teresa of the Child Jesus and from then on she systematically accompanied her in spirit. St. Teresa of Lisieux suggested her intentions to pray and to offer herself to God. In her dreams, she gave Helena, and later S. M. Dulcissima, spiritual guidance, inviting her to persistent prayers and sacrifices for the Church, Marian sisters and priests.
Helena Hoffmann entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate in 1927. As a postulant, on October 23, 1929, in the Motherhouse in Wrocław, she received veil. Then she took a new name: Maria Dulcissima, received the habit and a white veil. She lived with other novices in the novitiate house in Nysa. In both cities, then located in Germany. In the novitiate, S.M. Dulcissima took up an interior struggle, accepted suffering as a gift, and continued to enjoy the “visitation” of St. Teresa of Lisieux. An important role in accompanying her in her illness was played by the spiritual director, Fr. Wincenty Groeger and S. M. Lazaria Stephanik SMI, a qualified nurse from Gliwice, who often witnessed her spiritual visions and meetings with the Blessed Mother, the Child Jesus, St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, The Guardian Angel, or the mystic Teresa Neumann from Konnersreuth in Bavaria. Immersing herself in prayer absorbed Sr. M. Dulcissima, while a deep and strong desire for union with God opened her paths to mystical meetings with her Bridegroom.
- M. Dulcisisma Hoffmann arrived at the religious house in Brzezie – a village on the Oder near Racibórz – on January 18, 1933. There she made herself known as a merciful Samaritan woman who accepted the requests and sufferings of people, offering them to God. The words: “Souls, Jesus, give me souls!” Became her favorite prayer! (…). Yes, I want to save souls, not so that anyone knows about it, but only you, my [Saint] Guardian Angel and Saint. Teresa “. In Lent of 1935, the Lord Jesus rewarded her total devotion to the mystery of the cross with the privilege and the felt charism of stigmata on her arms and legs, and soon also on her heart. St. Teresa of Lisieux accompanied her and said: “You must recreate Jesus completely in yourself.” The matters of the Church and the Congregation became very close to her heart. She prayed earnestly for the Holy Father, priests, men and religious women, the sick and the dead. Endowed with the gift of intercessory prayer and foreseeing history, she offered her sufferings in the current needs of the ecclesial community, both local and universal. She had ecstatic visions of the persecution of the Church in Germany and Bohemia; she experienced the attacks of the devil. The “Bride of the Cross” foretold the coming war, social unrest, and famines; heralded the coming plagues and diseases related to humans and animals. Mystical experiences led her to readily accept penance at all times for the sins of not only lay people but also priests and religious. Physically weak, immobilized in free pace.
Moving through paralysis, suffering from headaches, she fainted, but was able to pray for hours and offer her sufferings as compensation for sins. On Holy Thursday, April 18, 1935, she made her perpetual vows in the monastery chapel of the Brzezie.
Sr. M. Dulcissima Hoffmann trusted in God’s mercy to the end. Reconciled with God’s will, she died in Brzezie on Monday, May 18, 1936, four days before the Ascension of the Lord. This twenty-six-year-old girl came out to meet the Bridegroom with a burning lamp (Mt 25: 1-13). She joined Him at the appropriate hour in her beautiful life, in which she kept watch by her commitment to do good. Moreover, she was wise and prudent.
She found her burial place in the old church cemetery. The funeral of the “Bride of the Cross” became a manifestation of faith. The people of Brzezie, dressed in white on the day of the funeral, were convinced that their “holy nun” had died and immediately took the earth from the tomb, believing that this “relic” would protect them, their families and the houses in which they lived from all evil.
In 2000, her mortal remains were exhumed, secured and placed in a sarcophagus near the Brzeg parish church of the holy apostles Matthew and Matthias. The beatification process at the diocesan level of S. M. Dulcissima Helena Hoffmann began on May 18, 1999 in Katowice – exactly on the 36th anniversary of her death – and was completed after 20 years also on May 18, 2019 in Brzezie. From that day on, the matter of her sanctity of life was investigated by the Roman postulator – Dr. Giovanna Brizzi. For us, the “Bride of God” keeps pointing to heaven and interceding for us if we ask her to. It’s worth it.
Sr. M. Małgorzata Cur SMI