Out of Hungary to Canada

1949: February 14, 1949, Sister Ida leaves from Hungary to Innsbruck, Austria.  She prepares the way for the Sisters to follow.

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Sister Ida (front row, third from the left) as a teacher in Innsbruck

Through a series of providential events, God leads Sister Ida to Innsbruck’s Hungarian High School.  Fully qualified to teach, she is the answer to the prayers of the Sisters of Charity who, just four months before graduation, received their visas to go to Holland.

In June, Sister Ida leaves for Canada, the only country then open to immigration.  She works as a domestic for one year as part of the immigration agreement and saves her wages ($40 per month) to make arrangements for the passage of the remaining Sisters.  Even though the International Refugee Organization (IRO) had been disbanded and sponsoring refugees’ transportation to the American continent had stopped, Sister Ida writes to the IRO director appealing for an exception for her Sisters.  He generously grants free passage for the Sisters on the last US military ship for refugees.

Those who desire to continue with the Community take the risk of leaving the country and cross the Iron Curtain two by two to Austria.

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Sister Eva (seated left) and Sister Aurelia (right) in Halifax after the Sisters’ arrival to Canada on August 15, 1950.

1950: On August 15, 1950, the Feast of the Assumption, Sister Hermine, Sister Aurelia, Sister Eva, Sister Agnes and Sister Helen Clare arrive safely to Halifax, Nova Scotia on the US military ship Hershey.

1951: To earn money to get settled and buy a house, Sister Ida and the Sisters work as unskilled laborers for Hungarian farmers in the tobacco harvests in Ontario, Canada.

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Sister Ida working in the tobacco harvest

To support themselves while adjusting to the new life style and learning English, the Sisters purchase used printing equipment and establish St. Joseph’s Press (located on the 1st floor of their house on Bloor Street in Canada).  They print newsletters, bulletins and a weekly newspaper for the parish.  They also print a variety of Catholic publications including a Hungarian Prayer book.

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St. Joseph’s Press: In foreground, Sister Eva is typesetting. Behind her Sister Ida and another Sister. To the right, Sister Aurelia with the stitcher for binding. In the far back is Sister Helen Clare doing hand setting

With linguistic and Latin knowledge, they print the “Ordo” (Roman Catholic Church guide for priests, detailing the forms of Mass and other services to be followed for each day in the year) for the English-speaking Church in Canada.

1954: The “Marian Year” marks the beginning of the Community’s English speaking apostolate.  Sister Ida initiates a solemn consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary and develops a spiritual program to incorporate elementary school children of the Toronto Archdiocese to live out their Catholic Christian faith in a dynamic way.  The “Joyful Apostolate” publication is launched, containing catechetical explanations, lessons, good deed cards and puppet show scripts.

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Children’s offerings for Marian Year in Toronto

Sister Ida and the Sisters organize a large-scale Children’s Day of Prayer to be held in May 1954. Cardinal James McGuigan, Archbishop of Toronto gives his full support.

1955: Sister Ida conducts Teacher Training courses for young women of several nationalities in St. Joseph’s College.  She is even able to teach non-professionals to teach religion in an appealing and interesting way without diluting the doctrine.  As a result, she is invited to establish and teach a catechetical course at St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Canada.

Sister Ida declines the offer with the intention to settle the Community eventually in the United States.

1956: The Sisters work with Chinese converts in Toronto Canada.  Some of these converts help with their work in St. Joseph’s Press. Mary Ann Lou will later be the first non-Hungarian person to enter the Community.

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Sister Ida (center in blue) surrounded by Chinese students. Sister Hermine (far right) and Sister Helen Clare(far left). Mary Ann Lou is seated to the right of Sister Ida.

Sister Ida becomes a Canadian citizen.

TIME MAGAZINE:  Canadian edition writes an article on the Community.

Sister Ida presents her unique catechetical Teaching Method in Long Island, NY.  She then attends the Religious Education Congress in Buffalo, New York where several bishops invite her to work in their dioceses.

 

Bishop Robert J. Dwyer of Reno, Nevada offers to pay for Sister Ida’s flight to see his diocese.  Rather than flying, for the same expense, Sister Ida, Sister Agnes and Sister Eva drive to Reno via Los Angeles in their first station wagon.  They drive through 13 states in six days. On the way, they were (in Sister Ida’s own words) “totally enchanted by the country, its beauty, vast lands, unity of language, excellent roads, and availability of similar goods in every city and small town.”

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Sister Hermine and Sister Ida
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Sister Ida driving the station wagon.