Feast Day: Aug. 8
St. Dominic Guzman, whose feast day is Aug. 8, is the founder of the Friars Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans, or Order of Preachers. Approved by Pope Honorius III in 1216, the Order had its roots amidst the growing spread of the Albigensians, a sect which held that the physical world was evil and was created by Rex Mundi, or the King of the World. The Albigensians believed in a second god, the one whom was worshipped, who was of a being or principle of pure spirit and completely unsullied by the taint of matter. This heresy was well organized and gained a foothold that had not been seen since the days of the Arian heresy centuries before.
On August 8, the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception starts its Jubilee Year – 150 years of existence in the Church. On that day in 1861 Mother Kolumba Bialecka opened the first novitiate in Wielowies, Poland.
St. Dominic won the hearts of the people with a preaching that combined intellectual rigor and a popular and approachable style. He also had a great love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. A popular legend says that the Blessed Mother gave him the Rosary. Later, the Rosary became closely linked with the Dominican Order. Pope Pius XI, who died in 1939, said, ”The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others.”
Dominican sisters carry on a number of apostolates today. They are distinct from the nuns, who are contemplatives and therefore do not have an active apostolate, or service. The sisters, on the other hand, take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and form a way of living the vocation of a Third Order Dominican.
Friars and Dominican sisters live their lives supported by four common values, often referred to as the Four Pillars of Dominican Life, which are: community life, common prayer, study and apostolic work, or service. St. Dominic called this fourfold pattern of life the “holy preaching.”
Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Various congregations of Dominican Sisters have formed over the years, and one of them is the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, which was begun by Mother Maria Rose Kolumba Bialecka, who was born in 1838 in eastern Poland. Endowed with many natural and supernatural gifts, Mother Kolumba entered the novitiate of Dominican Sisters in Nancy, France at age 19. Shortly after making her first religious vows she returned to Poland to lay the foundation for the Congregation of Dominican Sisters in Poland.
Aware of her countrymen’s many needs, especially their poverty and illiteracy, she began her mission of charity by organizing a network of parochial schools where youngsters as well as adults could learn how to read and write, and come to a better knowledge of their faith.
Today, the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception work in the areas of teaching, retreats, care of the sick and elderly, preparation of sacred liturgy, etc. They can be found in Justice, IL (the Provincial House); Milwaukee, WI; Mountain Home, AR; and Calgary, Alberta (Canada). The congregation also has its convents and mission houses in Poland, Italy, Cameroon, Russia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia.