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A Life with a Passion: Sister Ewa and her Work for Poles Abroad

Family News Service
February 04, 2024

A Life with a Passion: Sister Ewa and her Work for Poles Abroad
S. Ewa z parafianami z Clifton na Paradzie Pułaskiego. Foot: Archiwum prywatne FNS

If every person lived by a real passion for life, spurred by an awareness that every day is an opportunity to do something good, the world would be a better place – said Sr. Ewa Biniek, MChR, in an interview with the Family News Service. A member of the Missionary Sisters of Christ the King for Polish Emigrants, Sr. Ewa has dedicated the past three decades to working among the Polish community in the US. The World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated on February 2.

Sr. Ewa Biniek has worked for the past 8 years in St. John Kanty Parish in Clifton, New Jersey, close to New York City. The parish is made up of over 800 families. Some parishioners represent the Polish Diaspora who arrived in the US long ago, while others have come more recently. Sr. Ewa is very passionate about her work for the Polish community. As she indicated, “I have tried to animate the life of this community for over 8 years, caring first and foremost for children and young people”.

Our passion – work among the Poles living abroad

The Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Christ the King for Polish Emigrants is primarily dedicated to Poles who live outside their homeland. “When performing our mission, we often share the lives and histories of the emigrants,” stressed Sr. Ewa Biniek, a sister of this religious congregation for over four decades.

Over 50 sisters from this congregation work in North America, in both the US and Canada. They teach catechesis and often the Polish language in Polish schools and kindergartens and pass on Polish traditions. Moreover, they visit the sick, e.g., at the Copernicus Lodge Toronto. This is a home for the elderly, where many Poles and people of Polish origin stay.

In 2008, the sisters opened the Holy Family Single Mother's Home in Chicago. More than 150 women have benefited from the sisters’ help. The missionaries also run the Rachel Counselling Centre in Chicago, primarily for Poles. Its mission is to aid parents after the loss of a child due to miscarriage or perinatal death and to help women who are pressured into having an abortion. The counseling center also provides help for women suffering from post-abortion syndrome.

At the Clifton parish, the missionary sisters organize or co-organize many activities that allow Poles to be together, nurture Polish traditions and values, and strengthen their faith. Children and young adults, in particular, gather around the sisters in the parish for both regular activities as well as holiday trips. Picnics for whole families and religious celebrations such as Christmas and Corpus Christi are very popular. Every year, parishioners, together with the sisters, are involved in the Pulaski Parade in New Jersey, an annual event honouring the hero of both Poland and the US.

The work and dedication of the sisters is priceless in the eyes of those they serve. “Our families, our children feel safe and integrated in the parish. The sisters put a lot of heart into the religious education of the children, who are bilingual and learn in different schools every day. My children may know more religious songs in Polish than I did at their age”, stressed Anna Biedron from Clifton in an interview with the Family News Service. She added: “We adults can also count on spiritual renewal in the parish by attending meetings where we can talk about what is important for us”.

“Sr. Ewa has an unusual gift to win over kids and adults alike. The sisters' ministry is an invaluable, if often misunderstood, way of life. I am glad that we can still benefit from their dedication”, noted Anna Obrycki, a wife and a mother of two daughters, herself a resident of Clifton. She herself grew up in a parish where there were no sisters, so now she appreciates their ministry and dedication all the more. By her own admission, “Our children enjoy coming to church, pray, and are open to new knowledge. It is valuable for us that not only we as parents can pass on the faith, but that our children see the example of the sisters' faith”.

Sisters with a passion

After many years in the congregation, Sr. Ewa Biniek is convinced that if she were to decide again, she would once again choose to be a nun, even though she had originally planned her life differently. "This is my place. This is where the God wanted me to be. One priest told me that I'd be happy once I did what the Lord wanted me to do. If I accept it as a gift, the perspective changes completely", said Sr. Ewa. "I feel fulfilled and happy. It is not always easy. On the contrary, it has often been hard, yet I know that love is not easy. Happiness comes at a price", she concluded.

The life of a nun is no tedious routine. For Sr. Ewa, vocation is a passion. This is how she sees her religious consecration, her devotion to God, and to the people she tries to help. Sr. Ewa enumerates her fellow sisters' many pastimes: “There are sisters in our congregation who compose and publish poetry. Others are interested in music and go to concerts and to the theatre whenever they can. Many sisters like walks in the mountains”.

As of 1997, by a decision of St. John Paul II, February 2 has been celebrated as the World Day for Consecrated Life. It is held on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, marking the time when Mary and Joseph brought small Jesus to the temple 40 days after His birth.