On July 1, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of Mother Maria Kaupas, Foundress of both the Sisters of St. Casimir in the United States (1907 in Scranton, Pennsylvania) and Lithuania (1920). Mother Maria will now be known as Venerable Servant of God Maria Kaupas. This brings Mother Maria one step closer to Beatification, but is already an affirmation of her extraordinary love and service of God and neighbor.
Mother Maria Kaupas (Casimira Kaupas) was born in Ramygala, Lithuania on January 6, 1880. In 1897 Casimira Kaupas traveled to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to work as a housekeeper for her brother, Rev. Anthony Kaupas, a priest who was serving at St. Joseph’s Parish. During that time she saw women religious for the first time and was attracted by their way of life. Casimira also witnessed the plight of the Lithuanian immigrants who were in need of someone to minister to them in their native language. Lonesome for her family and her homeland, she returned to Lithuania in 1901 but continued to discern God’s call. She soon resolved to become a teaching religious, devoted to helping the Lithuanians in America.
Aware of Casimira’s intent, her brother informed her that the American Lithuanian clergy sought to establish a Lithuanian congregation of women religious for the purpose of educating the youth in a Catholic setting, and help preserve the Lithuanian language and customs. Casimira was asked to lead this new venture and she began her studies toward this end. When the Lithuanian Priests Council disbanded in 1904, Casimira determined nonetheless to pursue the idea of a new religious Congregation.
In 1905, Bishop Shanahan of the diocese of Harrisburg agreed to sponsor this new Congregation and Mother M. Cyril, IHM, accepted Casimira Kaupas and her two companions into the novitiate of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton, Pennsylvania for their preparation for religious life. On August 29, 1907, Casimira made her profession of vows, received the name Sister Maria, and the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Casimir was founded.
Immediately the Sisters of St. Casimir began their ministry of Catholic education. In 1911, they established their Motherhouse in Chicago, where there was a large Lithuanian population. There they began to staff schools in Lithuanian parishes. Mother Maria also sent Sisters to teach in many Lithuanian and non-Lithuanian parishes across the United States, including home missions in New Mexico. In 1928, the Sisters of St. Casimir began their health care ministry with the opening of Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago.
Mother Maria Kaupas died on April 17, 1940. Her holiness, her deep faith and love for God, and the service that has been rendered by the Congregation she founded over these past 103 years, all testify to Mother Maria’s life of virtue. Her life continues to be an inspiration to many.
Currently the Sisters of St. Casimir sponsor both Maria High School and Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago; they are also on staff at St. Paul-Our Lady of Vilna School, St. Clement School, Holy Family Villa in Lemont, and the Archdiocesan Center for Inclusive Education at St. Bede’s. The Sisters operate the St. Elizabeth Food Pantry at their Motherhouse and are active members of the Southwest Organizing Project, a neighborhood organization committed to improving the quality of life for residents living in the southwest area of Chicago.
In addition to their ministries in Chicago, the Sisters of St. Casimir sponsor a high school in Pennsylvania (Villa Joseph Marie), minister at Lake Michigan Catholic Middle/High School in St. Joseph Michigan, are on staff at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, and minister in Argentina.
To learn more about the Venerable Servant of God Maria Kaupas, and her Cause for Sainthood, download this pdf file: Mother Maria Biography
Read more about the announcement: American woman closer to sainthood: Casimira Maria Kaupas. http://communio.stblogs.org/2010/07/american-woman-closer-to-saint.html