Marian Helper Spring 2023

The 350th anniversary of the founding of the Marian Congregation by St. Stanislaus Papczyński is a cause for celebration! This year, the Marians are observing another milestone: the 110th anniversary of the establishment of the Congregation in the United States. A history lesson is in order. Before our 110 years in America, the Marian Congregation suffered more than 100 years of persecution in Europe. From the pride of partitioning powers who wiped Poland- Lithuania off the map, to the devastation brought on by the tri-color troops of Napoleon, to relentless harassment by the Czar of Russia, the Marian Congregation went from a high point of 147 members in 1781 to just one member by 1910. Down to one Marian One member. That’s all that was left of a once vibrant and thriving community — and he was dying. Of course, the Czar and his men were quite satisfied with themselves as they prepared to celebrate the longawaited demise of another Catholic religious congregation. In fact, when Fr. Vincent Sękowski, the last of the Marians who wore the white habit, finally did die in 1911, the enemies of the Church surely did rejoice. But theirs wasn’t the final word. Little did the Czar and his anti-Catholic men know, but an intelligent, hard–working priest had given up the promise of prestigious positions in the Church to save the Marians in secret. Father George Matulaitis-Matulewicz of Lithuania was re-establishing the Marians, refashioning them to be an exponentially greater force for Christ and the Church. He is known as “The Renovator.” The only problem was that the new Marians had to lay low and keep quiet, even after Fr. George moved the training of his men to the free nation of Switzerland — for even in Switzerland, the Czar’s spies were on the lookout. But Fr. George’s plans for the Marians were certainly not about laying low and keeping quiet. He wanted to bring the greatest possible glory to God. He wanted to work for the salvation of countless souls, and wanted his men to be filled with a zeal that would set all afire. So, what did he do? He moved some of his men to America, where they would be free to be everything he wanted them to be. Freedom in America On July 9, 1913, Fr. George arrived in America with two other Marians, Frs. Felix Kudirka and Julian Kazakas, Enter ‘The Renovator’ 16 Marian Helper • Spring 2023 • Marian.org Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz This year, the Marians are observing the 110th anniversary of the establishment of the Congregation in the United States, during Blessed George’s visit to our country. Blessed George visits U.S.

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