Maria Gaczoł

  • Maria with our Sisters in Uganda
  • Maria with primary school children in Kyamusansala
  • Three RSCJ in the UISG Migrant Project: Florence de la Villeon (BFN), Paola Paoli (ITA), and Maria Gaczoł (POL)
  • Some words from Maria...
My homeland is the global world. Born in the south of Poland, I joined the Society of the Sacred Heart when I was 20 years of age. Studies led me to Ireland where I learned English, and from there I went to Rome to prepare to take Final Vows. Our devise (the motto given to every group by our Superior General) was “Blessed are you because you have believed.”
That belief carried and sustained me in the Uganda/Kenya Province, where I lived for twenty-two years. My work was chiefly in financial administration in the context of education. This involved contact with a wide range of people in both Uganda and Kenya, plus cooperation with people from other countries, because there were several construction projects that were made possible through their collaboration.
Our communities in Uganda and Kenya were very international. Some were located in remote, and at times dangerous and challenging, areas.  I have happy memories of Sisters helping and caring for each other. This was especially true of Karamoja - Uganda where we worked together in pursuit of our educational mission. With them I learned to appreciate our differences and to grow in unity.  In living the Beatitudes each day, we grew in our experience and expression of our Cor Unum.  (The motto of the Society of the Sacred Heart is Cor unum et anima una in Corde Jesu - One heart and one mind in the Heart of Jesus.)
In 2015, I offered to join the Migrant Project of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).  With nine other Religious Sisters from other congregations and coming from different countries, we live among the refugees and migrants in Sicily, Italy. Being part of an inter-congregational community has heightened my awareness of the need for patience, tolerance and acceptance.  Each day I learn the importance of openness, communication, and respect for differences.  I am also becoming more conscious of the different ways by which we meet Christ in the other person.
As I gaze at the Mediterranean Sea, praising God and admiring the beauty of nature, I am also confronted with the reality that this very same sea has claimed the lives of many people and separated loved ones from their families. The sea evokes in me a gamut of  thoughts and feelings, inviting me to contemplate the journeys and experiences of those who set out full of hope, but who did not reach shore and will never see the families they left behind. 
The stories of persons I am called to walk with raise my awareness that God is in the bits and pieces of everyday life.  As I sit with the refuges and migrants, their faces show their unspoken anguish and their words tell of yearnings for a better life. Given our differences in nationality, culture, and language, communication is a real challenge.  But I am discovering one language that is of the heart and that comes with a welcoming smile.   
I am thankful to the Society of the Sacred Heart for giving me this privileged opportunity to learn how it is “to be God’s heart in the world” today.
To read the Global Sisters Report about the UISG Migrant Project, click here.