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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Faith in Action

Christians come from a long tradition of caring for the poor and the homeless as an integral part of their “faith in action.” From the years 1817 – 1872 comes an inspiration that reaches out to us even today in the life of Maria Luisa Merkert (photo). Born in Nysa, now Poland, Maria and her sister Maltide received a solid foundation in their faith from their widowed mother. Both girls entered adulthood inspired to seek a religious vocation. Upon their mother’s death and still in their twenties, both sisters devoted themselves to the care of the poor, the ill and the abandoned. Soon both joined with a Franciscan Third Order, Clara Wolff in her calling to visit the needy. Both had dedicated themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There were risks to this life of poverty that both had chosen. In less than four years, Matilde died of typhus she had contracted in her nursing labors to the poor and needy. Maria persevered in her care for the sick and ultimately with Francis Werner, co-founded a group of women servants dedicated to the tending of the ill and the poor under the name, the Grey Sisters of Saint Elizabeth.

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