Patroness of SSND SHALOM
The SHALOM Network chose Blessed Antonina as their special companion in grace. Maria Anna Kratochwil, SSND was born on August 21, 1881 , in Poland . She entered the Candidature in Breslau on September 27, 1909 and was professed September 27, 1910 when she received the name, Maria Antonina. She was a fine educator who found ways to help less fortunate students. S. Antonina enjoyed taking her students on fieldtrips into the woods to experience the beauty of God's creation. She taught students to appreciate the ecology of their Polish homeland. Later she was responsible for the candidates and was directress of the school for teacher training. She taught mostly through example and the student enrollment increased under her leadership.
After Hitler invaded Poland there was much anger directed toward religious educators who refused to implement his Nazi policies. In 1940 S. Antonina and the other sisters in her community were expelled from their convent. The sisters found lodging with the Ukrainian Sisters of the Greek Rite and found new employment. S. Antonina worked in the hospital laundry washing linens carefully because of the contagious disease they often contained.
On July 9, 1942 , the sisters were arrested and interrogated by the Gestopo. Soon they were imprisoned in Cell #6 in Stanislawow. They were in secular clothes but all knew they were women religious. This made them the object of ridicule and humiliation.
When it was discovered that S. Antonina had done an act of kindness for a young Jewish prisoner, she was taken from the cell and badly beaten. She had been beaten before but on returning to her cell she had refused to talk about it. Her demeanor in prison was one of patience and kindness to all. She was a symbol of strength for the other prisoners.
On September 26, 1942 , the sisters were suddenly released from prison. They were totally exhausted after many interrogations, torture, and sickness. The sisters came to the convent of the Servants of Mary Immaculate. Soon S. Antonina was taken to the isolation hospital where the doctor attending her saw the evidence of her tortured body and called her “a martyr.” S. Antonina died on October 2, 1942, and she was buried in the vault of the Sisters of Mary. Later her grave site was destroyed and her remains were never recovered.
On January 26, 1992, the process of naming persons of exceptional holiness “blessed” was begun. Because of her kindness and selflessness to all, S. Antonina was named among 108 Polish Martyrs of Faith. On June 13, 1999 , she was named “Blessed Antonina Kratochwil” by Pope John Paul II in Warsaw . Live her spirit in the Lenten Prayer created by our Polish Sisters. More information including a novena is available in I Remember You by the Sisters of the Polish Province, Opole, 1999.