Celine Borzecka and her daughter Hedwig founded the Sisters of the Resurrection in Rome in 1891. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong desire of Celine, who had felt a calling to religious life since she was a child. Celine obeyed her parents’ wishes that she get married, and she remained devout in her religion and active in social issues while being a devoted wife and mother. When Celine’s husband died after almost twenty years of marriage, she decided to travel to Rome with her daughters in the hope of broadening their education. It was in Rome that Celine met Father Peter Semenenko, the Superior General of the Resurrectionist Fathers, who became her spiritual director. Father Peter soon became aware of how God was working in the soul of this woman, and he encouraged her to begin the community of the Sisters of the Resurrection.
Celine’s daughter Hedwig joined her mother, and when they and their small group of women finally were able to profess their vows in 1891, it was the first time in Roman Catholic history that a religious community was founded by a mother and daughter. The new community began immediately to broaden its ministry by opening homes in Poland. After only nine years, Mother Celine accepted the invitation of the Fathers of the Resurrection to send sisters to America. While Celine and Hedwig remained in Europe, four sisters, led by Sister Anne Strzelecka, left Italy for Chicago in 1900.
The sisters arrived at St. Mary of the Angels Parish and immediately began preparing for the opening of the school. Within a year, the sisters had also begun ministering at St. Casimir Parish in Chicago. Over the years the sisters responded to requests to minister in states throughout the country, spreading their work into Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
In 1912, Sister Anne bought some land on Chicago’s northwest side, where the sisters soon opened Resurrection Academy, a school for girls. A few years later Sister Anne purchased additional land, which today includes the site of Resurrection Medical Center. Under Sister Anne’s leadership, the Province of the Immaculate Conception was established in 1928, and she became its first Provincial Superior.
Today, the Provincial Office for the Sisters of the Resurrection is located in Ascension Resurrection Retirement Village on the same land that Sister Anne purchased in the early 1900s. Resurrection Academy has grown to become Resurrection College Prep High School. The Sisters’ health care ministry, which began with Resurrection Hospital in 1953, is now part of Ascension Health Care.