Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances Siedliska) was born into a cultural and wealthy family at the palatial estate of her parents, Adolph and Cecelia Siedliski, in Roszkowa Wola near Warsaw, Poland on November 12, 1842. She was educated privately by governesses. Religion came into her life through a zealous Capuchin, Father Leander Lendzian, who prepared her for her first Holy Communion when she gave herself completely to God.
In spite of worldly allurements, criticism and derision, Frances remained steadfast in her desire to become a religious. After the death of her father, she consecrated herself to the service of God, and recognized her mission to establish a new religious congregation. In the petition presented to Pope Pius IX on October 1, 1873, Frances described her congregation as one whose members would model their lives on the hidden life and virtues of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Their prayers, works and sacrifices would be offered for the intentions of the Vicar of Christ and the Church. A new congregation was born when Pope Pius IX blessed Frances and the work she would do for the Church.
In religious life, the foundress took the name Mary. The early years of her congregation were very difficult but her heroic faith and confidence eventually triumphed. Soon with a small pioneer group of candidates, the congregation was established in Rome in 1875. The sisters devoted themselves to catechizing children, instructing converts, and conducting retreats for women. Mother Mary gave herself without reserve to her daughters. As new candidates entered the congregation, the foundress opened a convent in Cracow, Poland in 1881. In 1885, she took eleven sisters to the United States where the Polish immigrants were requesting the help of religious. Convents were opened in Paris, France in 1891, and in London, England in 1895.
Gradually her labors drained her physical strength. She had scarcely recovered from a serious illness when she began to work again. Under these super-human efforts she finally succumbed and gave her soul to God on the feast of the presentation of Mary, November 21, 1902, in Rome. She bequeathed to her congregation the example of her life, the Rule, her letters, and her last conference to the sisters during which she spoke of her favorite subject, reciprocal charity.
The life of Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd was synthesized in the motto, "Thy will be done", which she chose for herself and also gave to her sisters. Her spiritual strength was obtained from total immersion in God and fulfilling His will which she believed to be the essence of holiness. For her there was no other path to sanctity. Throughout her life she walked this path humbly and intensely having as her model, the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Frances Siedliska was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1989, eighty-six years after her death.
In 2000, the Pope also beatified eleven Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek.) who had been murdered by the Gestapo in August 1943 in present-day Belarus.
Today, more than 1,500 Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth maintain ministries in 11 countries, including Italy, Poland, France, England, the United States, the Philippines, Belarus, Ukraine, Australia, Africa and the Holy Land.