Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, with her deep love of God, steadfast devotion to Mary, and selfless love of all God’s people, inspired thousands of women to join with her in consecrating their lives to God through a life of prayer and service to those in need. As Foundress of the Felician Sisters, she forged one of the first active-contemplative communities that, nearly a century and a half later, would grow to include more than 1,800 vowed Sisters over four continents serving in an array of ministries.
Roots in Nineteenth Century Poland
The first of Joseph and Josephine Truszkowska’s seven children, Sophia Camille Truszkowska was born in 1825 in Kalisz, Poland. As a young child, the two dominant threads of Sophia’s life rapidly took shape—a deep spirituality and an abiding interest in serving the underprivileged and marginalized. These threads would become seamlessly interwoven throughout the fabric of her life, ultimately shaping her life and the community she founded.
Her days as a young student were characterized by schoolwork and reading, as well as daily Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and nightly prayer vigils. At the same time, her compassion for the underprivileged grew as she gained invaluable insight into the social ills and issues of her time from her father, a juvenile court judge.
At one point, Sophia had considered joining a cloistered community of Sisters, but her zeal for reaching out to the poor and marginalized could not be contained. She soon began ministering as a lay woman to the abandoned children and homeless on the streets of Warsaw. In time, she opened a shelter to give comfort and aid to this vulnerable population—all the while, praying to realize God’s will for her life.
Founding of the Congregation of the Sisters of
Saint Felix of Cantalice
At the suggestion of her spiritual director, Capuchin Franciscan Father Honorat Kozminski, she joined the secular Third Order of St. Francis, taking the name of Angela. On November 21, 1855, Sophia, who was now known as Mother Angela, decided to consecrate herself totally to God and forged a new religious community steeped in the values and ideals of Saint Francis of Assisi. This new community came to be called the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, embodying the active-contemplative model of St. Felix of Cantalice, the first Capuchin Franciscan to be canonized. The Sisters were often called the “Sisters of Saint Felix” or “Felicians” by the people of Warsaw, becoming commonly known as the Felician Sisters, the name that is commonly used today.