S.M. Eliasza Sternik CSSF
Providing housing for students is a new apostolate which the Felician Sisters of the Province of Warsaw undertook in 2015 in response to the needs of young people who study in Warsaw.
The residence has sixteen places for full-time students. The sisters also provide weekend housing for female students taking extramural studies.
The residence has single or double room studios with a bathroom. In addition, there are a dining room and kitchen, laundry room, TV room, refrigerator, coffee / tea maker available for the use of the students. All rooms are located outside the conventual enclosure. Such conditions are very user-friendly and economical to students. They are an expression of sisters’ concern to create a place that is safe, aesthetically pleasing, and above all, friendly to youth.
A major challenge for students – especially in the first year – is to enter into mutual relationships and to get to know Warsaw environment to efficiently navigate the maze of streets, institutions and demands of their studies. Gradually, they learn a new reality, entering into a new mode of learning and creating relationships in a new environment.
Service rendered among students in such circumstances requires a very high human and spiritual maturity, cooperation with God’s grace and understanding. Therefore, the sisters try to offer them the best witness of their own lives, pointing to God as the source and foundation of one’s attitudes and choices.
Engagement of the students is achieved by being invited to a common Eucharist on the occasion of their personal holidays, such as feast days or birthdays. The Mass is followed by the refreshments arranged by the students. It is a sign of increasing maturity, as well as developing responsibility and better relations between them.
All residents can use the chapel and may participate in the prayers of the local community of sisters. Volumes of breviaries are prepared for their use. The girls are familiar with the schedule of prayers and religious services, and participation in them and the Mass is always voluntary. Sometimes Rev. Bishop Marek Solarczyk, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Warsaw-Praga, presides over common liturgy,
The issue of the spiritual life and exerting certain religious practices has also evolved. Voluntary participation, use of the chapel during the day, freedom of choice, certainly for many of the girls became an opportunity for a more conscious and deeper choice of how to live their faith and practice it. Some of the students participate in the Eucharist and church services in the parish church. Some of them are engaged in various pastoral groups in Warsaw.
This year, a spontaneously emerging “formation program” for girls living with the sisters, is putting emphasis on the two liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. A three-day retreat was introduced, two weekend sessions (in December 2016 and March 2017), which are also conducted by Rev. Bishop Marek Solarczyk.
The attitude of our sisters is very positive. One of the demonstrations of kindness towards the sisters was a gift of the Eucharist in their intentions offered on the day of the feast of our Congregation.
Peace and tranquility at home, a sense of security, providing many opportunities and facilities in everyday life, being in a small group of people, clear rights and responsibilities of residents – all helped to make this place A HOUSE, where everyone is respected and loved.
S.M. Eliasza Sternik CSSF