XXI CICIAMS World Congress

This is a report of the missionary, Daniel Klocha OMI, who has been working on Madagascar for the past 30 years.  He comes from the congregations of Wiazowny, where Hanna Chrzanowska was christened.  A few years ago, Daniel Klocha OMI brought over the relics of the Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska to a big port city in Madagascar – Tamatave also called Toamasina, on the east coast of the island, into an institution for physically and mentally handicapped children (the “Centre”).  The Centre is run by Carmelite Nuns (the “Nuns”), being a smaller order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. They are helped by the volunteers from Madagascar or, sometimes, from Italy.

“Hania” in action on Madagascar

We had flown to USA two days before the congress began, so we could spend the first two days very peacefully. On Sunday, our first day in the US, we attended the Holy Mass in Polish, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, where the congress took place. We explored the Shrine and surrounding chapels, Polish cementary and the little, wooden church that was the first place of gatherings and prayers to Polonia in Doylestown.

On the next day we had the opportunity to participate in  the General Assembly of CICIAMS International Executive Committee, Regional Presidents (Europe, Africa, Asia, Pan-America) and Associates. It was typical, formal meeting of a association members that we had known from Poland, but most importantly, we had been invited to this gathering, our Association was officially re-introduced as CICIAMS member and welcomed to Congress!

Then, the first day of congress finally came. The congress’ motto was „United in Mission, United in Faith” and it was seen throughout the three days.
The congress started with a wonderful, celebratory Holy Mass. To express the importance of this day we wore official gala costumes and nurse hats. We took part in a Procession, in which we carried the Polish flag and the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Later on, Dr Malgorzata Brykczynska and Izabela Cwiertnia presented the case of the Beatification process of Bl. Hanna Chrzanowska and the role the Catholic Nurses from Kraków in it.

Bl. Hanna Chrzanowska was one of the „stars” among the participants of the congress, as the first Registered Nurse who had been announced Blessed.

Thanks to the commitment of Fr. Bartłomiej, Pauline Father  – a host of the radio show „The Voice of American Częstochowa”, who invited us to recording a couple of his radio show episodes, we were able to spread a voice about the CICIAMS congress in USA, Bl. Hanna Chrzanowska and about Servant of God midwife Stanisława Leszczyńska.

We are extremely grateful to the Pauline Fathers from the American Częstochowa. Throughout the congress they were incredibly friendly to us. They shown us around the Shrine and even the township of Doylestown . They also shown us the museum collection in their Shrine. We felt happy and well looked after. We appreciated the fact that the congress was happening in such a Polish place, where we could oftenly hear our language and meet with Poles living abroad in the USA, vastly missing our country.

On the second day of the congress the poster session was being held. Katarzyna Białokoz and Krystyna Starosta presented their poster: „The History of Catholic Association of Polish Nurses and Midwifes, with a special regard to Servant of God – midwife Stanisława  Leszczyńska.

We had plenty of very meaningful conversations and answered to a lot of  questions about our photos and about the images of Polish catholic and holy nurses. We told a story of Stanisława Leszczyńska, a midwife that looked after pregnant women before, during and after birth in Aushwitz Concentration Camp. She took care of their newborns as well. Even though she could lose her life anytime, she defended the newborns from being killed right after birth.

We were delighted, because the only midwife praticipating in the congress – Anne from Kenia, was very interested in the person of Stanisława Leszczyńska. We gave her the framed picture of Stanisława as a gift, which she really liked and promised us that she will hang this picture up, in here classroom, where she teaches midwifery. That day, we also gifted the Shrine with the portrait of
Bl. Hanna Chrzanowska.

Later on the second day, we took part in intercultural night. Every country participating in the congress could present itself with singing, dancing, reciting poems or presenting their local clothes. The possibility of experiencing even a small part of cultures from foreign countries (ex. Mexico, Nigeria, Singapore etc) was incredibly exciting for us.

Us, Polish nurses, sang the songs „the Black Madonna” – to honor our presence in the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa and „The Vistula flows and flows”. What is very exciting, our new friend Bożena – the Polish nurse living and working in the USA, performed with us. She took part in the congress as a member of National Association of Catholic Nurses of America (NACN), but on the spot, she got acquainted with us and became on of a representatives of Polish catholic nurses.

The third day of the congress was very similar to the previous ones. We prayed together and attented to various of lectures.  Sadly, it was our last day there together, so we couldn’t avoid very moving acknowledgments and goodbyes.

The next couple of days were organised for us by NACN. We got to know better a couple of nurses from NACN (Maria V. Arvonio, Diana Ruzicka, Patricia A. Sayers) and CICIAMS (International President, Mme. Khosi Mthethwa from Eswatini Kingdom and Anne Kabimba from Kenia),
while travelling and eating together,. We visited two Catholic Universities that are teaching nursing and the Catholic Hospital of St. Lucas. We have been to Philadelphia and NY as well!.

We are especially grateful to Patricia A. Sayers for her great devotion, sympathy and kindness. Despite her fatigue she was driving a car for countless hours, in order to show us as many memorable places in Pensylvania ans New Jersey as she could.

We spent ur last two nights in the USA at Anna’s – italian immigrant and a friend of nurses from NACN, who agreed to accomodate a couple of visitors from foreign countries in her house. She cooked for us a delicious, italian dinners, over which we had some very interesting, international discussions. Obviously, we also prayed together as one international family.

Our time in the USA was extremely intensive, but also very enriching.

It wouldn’t be possible without an enormous help and commitment of Dr Małgorzata Brykczyńska. Thanks to her, we could take part in the congress and also establish some international relations, that are already being strenghten up and are giving incredible results. We renewed our position in the international arena.

We came back to Poland with a belief that Bl. Hanna Chrzanowska, Stanisława Leszczyńska and other Polish nurses and midwife were noticed and remembered among catholic nurses around the world.

Motto  „United in Mission, United in Faith” of this congress was extremely accurate. We could experience the union and connected with other participants, in catholic faith and nursing profession, despite cultural differences, language bariers or skin color.