The first 50 years: 1858-1907
Six Bavarian school sisters settled in Temesvár downtown and commenced teaching.
The Hungarian mission is declared to be an independent Hungarian Dominion by Mother Theresa. More and more sisters speak Hungarian, and more and more Hungarian girls join the order.
Having served God and the children for 70 years, Mother Theresa dies at the age of 82. She visited Hungary 6 times, where, in the year of her death, as many as 10 homes, 143 sisters and 64 aspirants lived. She looked after all her foundations in the same way.
The school sisters have been in Hungary for 35 years. Francis Joseph I. the Hungarian king donates the "Service Cross in Golden Degree" to Dominion Principal, Sister M. Abundantia, who is one of the six sisters to have arrived in Hungary.
Sisters of Debrecen in 1898
The sisters found 5 homes in the Hungarian city, Temesvár, 10 in Transylvania, 3 in county Bánát,
5 in the Hungarian Great Plain, with various types at different levels of educational institutions from kindergartens to teachers' training colleges.
Hungary celebrates the 1000 th anniversary of its land-taking. The school sisters have been pioneers in organizing the Millennium Festivals properly. For example, in Nagybecskerek, county Bánát, 150 Hungarian girls dressed in folk costumes marches past singing the Rákóczi-marching song, with Hungarian flags and coats of arms.
The school sisters settled in the city of Kolozsvár , where they first establish primary schools and a kindergarten called the Auguszteum.
The second 50 years: 1908-1957
The second Hungarian secondary grammar school for girls opened in the school sisters' Marianum school compound in Kolozsvár.
1914-1918 - The years of World War 1
During World War 1, teaching in the sisters' homes was often replaced by first aid.
In the 133 days of the athetist proletarian dictatorship, coming to power in March, our sisters and students were often confronted with the Communists. The aim of the "comrades" was to abolish the religious orders, the priests, the religious education and church schools. However, the people's protest and the Communists' early fall prevented them from expanding their anti-church propaganda.
In the Trianon Palace near Paris, the unjust peace treaty putting an end to World War 1, detaches two thirds of her territory and population from Hungary. The disannexed territories are partitioned to all the neighboring countries, regardless of whether they were among the winners or losers of the war.
The state borders were not fixed according to the ethnic frontiers, but the economic and military interests of our neighbors. Likewise, the Hungarian Dominion lost two thirds of its homes. The Dominion Principal leads the divided dominion from the mother home in Temesvár, the city having attached to Rumania.Out of 32 homes, only 10 remained in Mutilated Hungary, the rest became part of Rumania and Yugoslavia.
The second fifty years is the period of break-ups and new prosperities.
Though our history is sadly landmarked by two world wars, fatal changes of the Hungarian state borders, dictatorships and revolutions, we admiringly recall the blossoming faith in our country in this difficult period. This exemplary devotion is characteristic of our sisters as well.
The dividedness of the Hungarian Dominion cannot be tolerated. Thus, the homes having been attached to Rumania, make the Rumanian Dominion, our sisters in county Bánát having been attached to Yugoslavia , become part of the Yugoslavian Dominion with the Slovenian sisters. In Mutilated Hungary, the Szeged-Lower City convent became the sisters' new mother home.
Faith was blossoming in Hungary between the two World Wars. Our sisters were busy in several Catholic associations. The sisters and their students enthusiastically celebrated the Eucharistic World Congress in 1938 in Budapest. By this time, besides the 10 foundations remaining in Hungary, the sisters brought 9 new foundations into existence.
1939-1945 - The years of World War 2
- Hungary does not become a battlefield right away. Without using a single bit of gun, fire a small part from the detached territories is returned to the country by the consecutive Vienna Decisions. In 1941, Northern-Transylvania returns from Rumania , thus three homes are attached to the Hungarian Dominion again: the one in Dés, the Auguszteum in Kolozsvár, and the Marianum. The relationship is lively again with our sisters in Transylvania . The Dominion Principal in Szeged extends the appointments to the newly returned homes as well. The sisters launch "sparse-missions" in the Székely villages in Transylvania, where they organized a three- week missionary program.
- When Hungary becomes a battlefield, the sisters also suffered from the war. Their homes were opened for refugees and wounded soldiers. Our schools were confiscated and turned into hospitals by the Germans first, then the Russians.
Many young sisters attend Red Cross-courses, and look after the wounded. We took over a home for the mentally handicapped children next to the city of Szeged for a couple of months.
- In the meantime, we ran our schools with occasional interruptions, and the children were involved in Caritas work. Despite all these circumstances, there were new foundations during the war as well.
- In the fall of 1944, when the Soviet army entered our country, our sister Simon M. Etelka becomes a martyr for her pureness and womanly virtue in Kiskunmajsa. Many of the sisters, like so many Hungarian girls and women, become victims of the violence of Russian soldiers. The "temporary" Russian invasion took place, and lasts for 46 years, until 1991.
- After the end of the war, the newly annexed parts are detached again from Hungary, including three more settlements. Our homes in Northern-Transylvania were separated again, and it is only by means of the appointments that some of our sisters were able to get back to their original homes before the closure of the state frontiers.
After three-years of systematic anti-church propaganda, during which Hungary 's primate archbishop, József Mindszenty was arrested, the Communist Party - the dominant political power of the country - nationalizes the church schools. Walls are built in the convent schools between the school and the clausura, and the sisters must not speak to their ex-students. Having been deprived of their salary, the sisters become religious education teachers, sacristans, bell-ringers, church tax-collectors or parish attendants, daily they worked on the land, and did needlework, seen and cooked to order.
- During the night of 10 th June and the following days, a widespread ingathering took place in the country: the sisters were taken to internal camps hidden by the canvas of vans. The sisters from their mother home in Szeged were transported to Ludányhalászi in Nógrád county, others were taken to Márabesnyő and Zirc. The Communist government bans the religious orders. When the sisters and fathers are released from the camps, they have nowhere to go and nothing to wear. They badly needed the mercy of others. Some of them find shelter at relatives, others go to friends or parishes. Many old sisters got to elderly homes, and for those who have nobody, or all their next of kin are dead, there is nothing left but to become a servant of a family.
- In September, the Communist state, for the sake of appearance of religious freedom, gives permission to the Benedictines, the Pious Fathers and the Franciscans, and, the only women's order, the School Sisters of Notre Dame. These four orders with a restricted number of membership and strict control may have two secondary grammar schools each. The school sisters get part of the Svetits in Debrecen back, and in Budapest, part of the late convent school of another order, the Girls of Godly Love, the Patrona Hungariae Secondary Grammar School. The sisters above the state number limit shared the fate of the members of the dissolved orders living scattered.
- The Hungarian school sisters in Rumania and Yugoslavia shared a similar fate, since their countries also belonged to the Socialist block. Their work was thoroughly prohibited, so they kept in touch with one another secretly. In Yugoslavia, the sisters could work, that is they could wear their clothes, they could live in small communities, but they are left without schools. What they could do was parish work with religious education and housework.
On the 23 rd of October the revolution against the Soviet occupation and Communism breaks out in Budapest, as an answer to the oppressors' violence, became an armed uprising. The convent and school of the sisters was situated near one of the fighting areas. There was no school these days, and the majority of the inmate students were taken home by their parents. Some of them are taken home later, and until the parents arrived, they stayed with the sisters in the theatre of the school.
The corridors on the upper floor are filled by soldiers, they climbed onto the roof of the home and shout at the Russian tanks. During the time of the great offensive suppressing of the revolution, it is only the sisters and aspirants who are hiding in the building. Every now and then bullets hit the courtyard, the building is hit twice, all the windows are broken - but, as a happy consequence, a statute of Virgin Mary is revealed, which had been walled up during the nationalization. The sisters were hiding in the basement kitchen away from the devastating cannon fire.
During the vengeance, one of our sisters living in the sparseness, Szörfi M. Martina became a martyr. As a housemaid, she looked after a famous opera singer's house while the artist was abroad. The Hungarian secret police, called ÁVÓ, executed a home-raid, looking for information about the singer. Sister Martina was tortured to death.
The third 50 years : 1958-2008
Though the revolution in 1956 was put down, the Communist regime, fearing a new revolution, had to be more and more permissive. However, the time for the transition to a new society comes slowly. We had to wait for it more than 30 years, while the threatening oppression became harder again and again. This time, the secondary grammar schools and colleges of the school sisters and three orders of served men as the bastillions of the Hungarian Catholic youth education. There are young people joining the order again and again, mostly from their students, who were devoted to use the lessons, school and free time activities, school contemplations to make the Hungarian girls and boys devoted Christians, responsible intellectuals, mature grown-ups and parents. The work of the school sisters in these difficult decades would have been impossible without the solidarity and support of our international congregation. We are deeply grateful to our fellow sisters living in the West, and especially our leaders in Rome.
1989-90 and then beginning of the nineties
The republic of Hungary is proclaimed, the Soviet troops leave the country, the victims of the dictatorships are rehabilitated, secret documents are published, new parties are founded, the religious orders may work again, and Pope John Paul II. visits Hungary. The school sisters find new possibilities: they may reclaim buildings, and they get financial compensation. We extended the institutions in Debrecen and Budapest, we opened the gates of the schools in Szeged-Lower City and Makó. The elderly sisters gradually moved into the convent from the sparseness. The relationship is enlivened with the fellow sisters beyond the Trianon borders: the sisters from the mother country visit Transylvania and the Bánát more frequently.
Due to the war, Yugoslavia is divided; Croatia is fixed in between the Hungarian sisters of Bánát and the Slovenian sisters. The cooperation becomes more difficult between the two territories. Due to their mutual agreement, the Hungarian sisters of Bánát in 1993 ask their attendance from the Yugoslav Dominion to the Hungarian Dominion, thus our dominion was extended with two former Hungarian settlements: Kikinda, where the sisters introduce religious education and parish work, and Nagybecskerek, Zrenjanin in its Serbian name, where a college is run for Hungarian girls.
This period lasted until now. These years saw us having grown, our direct links are rooted here, it is this age that determines most who we, today's Hungarian school sisters are. We have been brought up in the shadow of a dictatorship. The old fears and reflexes are with us even today. God, the God of life and renewal leads us so that our charism may serve the renaissance of the church and our country.
With grateful hearts we celebrate the 150 years during which our order has served in Hungary , and it fills us with responsibility that the Lord has plans for us for the future as well.
The Hungarian Dominion launched associate membership, which has been well-known in the international congregation. Men and women join us who accomplish our school sister charism in their families, parishes, office, and help our apostolic work wherever they can.
The Hungarian and German sisters from the sparse Rumanian Dominion established a convent in Temesvár. Hungarian and Bavarian sisters are involved in the reorganization and management of the dominion, and finally, due to the decision of the sisters living there, the Rumanian Dominion joins the Bavarian Dominion in 2002.
In the territory of Rumania, but as the mission of the Hungarian Dominion, Nagy M. Vera, sister and an associate member, Czakó Gabriella settle in Szováta, Transylvania. Both being music teachers, they organize a mobile singing school: the "re-teach" the partly extinct folk culture, with the preservation of the musical mother tongue, they helped the Hungarians living beyond the borders for 80 years to keep their identity. With Zoltán Kodály's methods, they organized a choir, introduced musicals, and wandered about Transylvania and the Mother Country, thus keeping the Hungarian-Hungarian relationship alive.
The Hungarian Dominion celebrates its jubilee, and says thanks for the 150 years since the settlement of the order in Hungary in 1858. Our motto for this year :
"It is the roots that the tree answers the challenges of the wind with."
These words of our poet Gyula Illyés correspond with the lines of our mother Teresia, who was speaking of her everlasting trust in God this way: "All the works of God proceed slowly and in pain; but then, their roots are studier and their flowering the lovelier." (letter 2277) Our 150 year history is the proof. Having looked for our roots, we have found springs, which had been fed by our ancestors.
We are grateful for the mysteriously mixed good and bad experiences of the 150 years, and ask for forgiveness for our sins, for the wounds we caused to one another, to our students and others. We ask the Lord's blessing onto our service and for all who belong to us. The International Congregation is rejoicing with us: the jubilee is common with all our fellow sisters, as we celebrate the 175 th anniversary of the foundation of our order.