Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sr. M. Bernarda Michalska

Sister Bernarda begins her story with the sentence: ‘I am very happy!’

Family home

My beloved parents gave and still have been giving us all what is reputable, good and noble. They and my holy grandma are the ones who showed me God.

I have three younger brothers. I love my family so much and my family home where my vocation was engendered.

Vocation – first years of formation

I graduated from a medical school and at school I already felt that my nursing would be different but I couldn’t say in what ways. While being on a retreat at missionary sisters I felt that it wasn’t what I was looking for. But when I was in the third year of the medical school, I came to Ołdrzychowice, Poland, and I already knew: ‘Yes, this is my place, this is it!’

Studies at the medical school lasted 5 years. So I had to wait 2 years to graduate, pass my final exam and receive a diploma. Only then I could join the congregation. I thought that time lasted forever.
On 2nd August, 1980 I was admitted to the postulancy. Then was the first year of the novitiate in O�‚drzychowice. In the second year of the novitiate I went to my first post and started to work in a hospital on surgical ward. I remember the years of my formation really fondly, although I was hard to form. I often had different opinions and I inquired why things were like they were. That was the reason why late Father Lotar OFM (who gave lectures in the novitiate and was the chaplain) used to call me ‘Sister heretic’! I owe a lot to my deceased superiors and formators.

Apostolic ministry – a dream come true

I have always been interested in people and my work as a nurse favors getting to know people: their worries, troubles, joy, needs and expectations. My great desire was work with those people who are perceived as dregs of society. Therefore I call blessed the day when I crossed the gate of a prison. I have been a volunteer for five years, first in prison in Wroc�‚aw and now in K�‚odzko. I look forward to each Wednesday because I can be sister to all those who, as Jesus says ‘have no one to lead them…’. Every week for three hours I teach ‘my’ men (prisoners) catechism, I prepare them for confirmation. We talk about God, Jesus who is like a character in a fairy tale to most of them. They learn how to get to know themselves in God’s eyes and to live obeying God’s commandments, what isn’t easy in their everyday life. Prison is the place where you must listen more than speak, be more and bear witness. I am often saved by my sense of humor and distance to myself because not me but God is the most important. It’s hard to say to someone who doesn’t feel loved by people that God loves him and it’s even harder or him to believe it. My community supports me and the ones I serve with prayer which I appreciate.

I have always wondered how God does it that there is appropriate time for everything and I’m learning patience. Now I’m waiting patiently, doing the best I can to fulfill my dream of forming a home for those who don’t have it – which means those released from prison. Everything is on the right track and I still let God surprise me with His kindness and ingeniousness and often with His great sense of humor. I can laugh at myself, but when I forget that He plays the leading role and I treat myself as a conductor then God gets me back down to the earth.

My prayer is:

God, with what else are You going to surprise me?
Thank You for everything! Please, create still a new human in me.