History

Early years

Originspope_leo_xiii

Our community, the Society of the Sisters of Social Service, as we know it today, bears the mark of several great personalities, all of whom were inspired by Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, the first of the great encyclicals calling for social justice.

In Hungary, by the turn of the 20th century, there was already a growing Catholic Women's Movement, whose activities were in harmony with, and whose leaders were inspired by this document.

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Years of foundation

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The Sisters of Social Service

was founded

on May 12, 1923 by

Sr. Margaret Slachta

With those sisters who wished to retain and develop the original charisma.

 

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Between 1940-1949

The Second World War and the terrible persecution of the Jews which it engendered,  led Sr. Margaret to make heroic efforts to save the persecuted. They were hidden in our motherhouse and in every house where our Sisters lived. 

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Sr. Sara Salkahazi was martyred for this cause. On the evening of December 27, 1944 six people were stripped naked and shot into the icy Danube. According to an eye-witness, before her execution Sister Sára knelt down, facing the executioners, and looking up into the sky, she signed herself with the cross.

Her Beatification took place in Budapest, on September 17, 2006

More about her: on the website Sára Salkaházi 1899-1944

Along with the rescue efforts Sr. Margaret also had a leading role in the resistance to Nazi ideology. She gave talks and organized study days and courses on the values of the Gospel and on the evil of racism.

In 1944 she wrote her Credo, the summary of her leading principles. 

During the Second World War and the terrible years of persecution of the Jewish people, the Sisters of Social Service rescued about a thousand of individuals.

You can read more in: Jessica A. Sheetz Margit Slachta and the early rescue of Jewish families

 

1949-1989

After World War II there came a drastic change in the political climate of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Soviet occupation gave rise to communism, which brought along the persecution of the Church, the nationalization of Church run institutions, and the suppression of religious orders.

Many Sisters in the three European districts were arrested and imprisoned for long terms (10-13 years), and some had to flee their countries.

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In 1949 Sr. Margaret was forced to leave her native Hungary for political reasons and she  moved the general government of the Society to Buffalo NY, where some Sisters lived and worked since the 1920's.

 

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In 1949 Sr. Nicoletta Csekey also left Hungary and went to Cuba.   From her ministry there a new district developed.

 

 

The Districts in Romania and and Czechoslovakia were supressed in 1949, the Hungarian District in 1950. In spite of the difficulties during the forty years of illegality, God continued to call young women to join our community.

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After 1989

In 1989 the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe brought political freedom and opened a new era in the history of the community.

Since 1990 the Sisters in Eastern European districts have been able to live their vocation freely. They serve God's people in various ministries, according to the pressing needs of their own countries.

In 1998 the Generalate of the Sisters of Social Service officially returned to Hungary and its principal seat is again in Budapest in the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest.

In a decreee issued on December 8, 1998, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Congregation of Consecrated Life (CICLSAL) declared that the Society of Apostolic Life of the Sisters of Social service is to be considered as of pontifical right.

More about the present life of the sisters in the five districts: