Friday, October 12, 2012


At the rate the Americans are going we may soon have as many saints as the Italians! Our latest to be given title Venerable (along with Bishop Frederick Baraga ) is Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich.

 She was born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1901, the youngest of seven children of Alexander and Johanna (Suchy) Demjanovich, Ruthenian immigrants to the United States from what is now Eastern Slovakia. Her father was a cobbler. Teresa received Baptism, Confirmation, and her First Holy Communion in the Byzantine-Ruthenian rite of her parents.

(The Ruthenian Church developed among the Rusyn people living in Carpathian Ruthenia as a result of the missionary outreach of Sts. Cyril and Methodius who brought Christianity and the Byzantine Rite to the Slavic peoples in the ninth century. The Ruthenian Catholic Church is in full Communion with the Bishop of Rome).

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

At first Teresa wanted to become a Carmelite, but the lingering illness of her mother kept her at home as nurse and housekeeper. After her mother’s death in November, 1918, Teresa was strongly encouraged by her family to attend the College of Saint Elizabeth at Convent Station, New Jersey.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
She received her college degree with highest honors in June, 1923. As always, she longed for the religious life, but various circumstances made her uncertain regarding which community she should enter. Meanwhile she accepted a teaching position at the Academy of Saint Aloysius in Jersey City. Not until December, 1924, was she certain that she should become a Sister of Charity, and with her decision she knew she had very special work to do in this Community. She entered February 11, 1925.

The community of Sisters of Charity at Convent Station, is the order founded by another great American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The saint soon distinguished herself for what seemed an unusual depth of piety. “Her face is that of a mystic,” the mother superior said at the time, after seeing her kneeling in the chapel, praying with outstretched arms. Saying the rosary one night in her dorm room as a sophomore, she saw what she described as an “almost unbearable” light appear in the sky, and in it a vision of the Virgin Mary.

Sister Miriam Teresa continued to teach during the last two full years of her life. Her spiritual director in religion, Father Benedict Bradley, a Benedictine (died 1945), discerning her remarkable gifts, directed her, with the consent of the Mother Superior, to write a series of conferences which, published posthumously, form the volume entitled GREATER PERFECTION.

In November 1926, Sister Miriam Teresa fell seriously ill. In the first months of 1927 the doctors told her superior that her illness was fatal. On April 2, Sister Miriam Teresa was permitted to profess her vows, so that she would die a full member of the order. Death came a few weeks later on May 8.

The Venerable's life in religion was short, but filled with much prayer and suffering. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, she lived a long time in a short space.  She was 26 years of age.
Her saintly life, her striving for perfection in her religious life, her spiritual writings, and the mystical privileges given to her by God have been an inspiration to those who knew her and to those who have followed her in religious life.

Venerable Miriam Teresa has been credited with restoring perfect vision to a boy who was legally blind as a result of juvenile macular-degeneration, the first miracle needed for her canonization.

“The imitation of Christ in the lives of saints is always possible and compatible with every state of life. The saints did but one thing - the will of God. But they did it with all their might. We have only to do the same thing; and according to the degree of intensity with which we labor shall our sanctification progress.” 

— Venerable Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

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