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Roza Czacka

May 15 we remember Roza (Mother Elzbieta) Czacka, b. in 1876 and died on this day in 1961.

Her parents Zofia Ledochowska (from the Polish-Austrian noble family) and Feliks Czacki (grandson of Ivy League Polish Krzemieniec high school founder Tadeusz Czacki) were Polish patriots. After Roza, at age 22 lost her sight they encouraged her to trade in despondency for doing something extraordinary for her country-like providing service to the Polish sightless community. From her travels abroad, Roza brought modern education methods and already in 1911 opened a school for the blind on Polna street in Warsaw. Lack of adequate space forced a move to Laski, a village near Warsaw surrounded by the omnipotent Kampinos forest. In 1918 Roza, now Mother Elizabeth of the Crucified Jesus founded the Sisters Servants of the Cross. Busy with her flagship project-the adaptation of the Braille alphabet to the Polish phonetic system, Mother achieved major success. By 1934, the Polish Ministry of Education affirmed her program for usage in all Polish schools for the visually impaired. Despite extreme poverty which marked their early years, Laski Center began attracting passionate volunteers. God blessed Mother with a Congregation and team of colleagues that pioneered a new Catholic pastoral opening towards the intellectual community. Laski became the heart of her mission (1922-1933). During WWII under German terror, this visionary woman was severely wounded by German bombing raids. After the outbreak of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, Mother Elizabeth heroically decided Laski would "join" the Warsaw Insurrection. The Laski Center served as a refuge and hospital for wounded insurgents and civilians. Her assistant, young Father Stefan Wyszynski, Warsaw Uprising chaplain (nom de guerre Radwan II) would one day become Poland's interrex - the Primate of the Millennium. Mother Elizabeth died in the opinion of sainthood and will be beatified later this year next to Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.
May her Hope against Hope be a source of strength and courage for us today!

B. Czerkawski

Our photos depict a book by Sister Jadwiga Stabinska "Mother Elzbieta Czacka-Laski"-from our PMA Library collection, incl. photos of Roza Czacka and Laski center children "viewing" a camera.

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