Making good on the mission: Matulaitis reflects on 100-year history

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Making good on the mission: Matulaitis reflects on 100-year history

A century after its patron first resurrected a nearly extinct Marian congregation, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and its nonprofit partner corporation Matulaitis Nursing Home continue to carry on the tradition of providing aid, comfort and care to the injured, aged and unwell.

Founded in the wake of World War I by George Matulaitis, a 47-year-old Lithuanian priest who would later become an archbishop and was posthumously beatified by Pope John Paul II, the congregation in 1936 moved away from Lithuania, which would be annexed by the Soviet Union just four years later. The country wouldn’t regain its sovereignty until 1990.

By 1968, the sisters had purchased two properties in East Putnam, establishing a small religious compound on Liberty Highway and the nursing home about a minute away on Thurber Road. In that time, the congregation also worked to help resettle Lithuanian refugees in Northeastern Connecticut, operating a boarding school and summer camp for girls.

One hundred years after the Marian revival and as Matulaitis Nursing Home celebrates its 50th anniversary this Christmas holiday, the head of its congregation says the “phenomenon” cannot be explained.

“I believe the foundation on which it (Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception) overrides political, ideological, societal changes. The communal witness of the members’ Christian faith, a commitment to Christ and the Church and fidelity to core Christian principles and following the motto of its founder, Archbishop George Matulaitis, ‘Overcome evil with good,’ speaks for itself. And Matulaitis Nursing Home is a witness to this for the past fifty years,” wrote Sister Igne Marijosius.

An excerpt taken directly from Matulaitis’ writings prior to his mission to America articulates his determination to revive Christianity in the East and West.

“Our concern is with all humanity and with the needs of the universal Church. In a special way we must direct our attention toward the vast territories of Russia and Siberia, where so many souls have strayed from the fold because there is no one to guide them; toward America with its noisy life-style where it is easy for people to forget their spiritual needs,” Matulaitis penned in his journal on Jan. 25, 1911, according to documents provided by the congregation.

The almost non-existent community that survived religious oppression and war to become missionaries to a small enclave in Northeastern Connecticut is proud of its continued endurance here and in Lithuania, its dedication to its mission of service.

“What can explain the phenomenon: a religious community that emerged in Lithuania having survived the oppressive regime of the Czar at the close of World War I, a community that sent missionaries to a strange new land, i.e. the United States, and soon after endured 50 years of Soviet communistic atheism until it reclaimed its independence, and that this community still exists today both in Lithuania and in the United States after 100 years?” Sister Igne questioned.

Matulaitis provides long-term skilled care, rehabilitation and post-acute care, palliative, end of life and hospice care and respite care pending availability, administrators said.

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