The Federation of Sodalities of Our Lady in Poland
The Federation of Sodalities of Our Lady in Poland is a Church organisational unit that unites the Church associations - Sodalities of Our Lady which was established by the Polish Bishop's Conference. The Federation has a church and a state legal personality.
The first Sodality was founded in Rome in 1563 by a Jesuit, Jean Leunis. Nowadays, the Sodalities of Our Lady are the communities responsible for the formative and apostolic tasks that are particularly devoted to Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Church. The aim of the Sodalities is to form their members into people who enjoy the Gospel and who are in charge of the Church and its mission in the world.
The Sodalities unite lay people of different age, marital status and professions. Each sodality has its own lay chairman who is responsible for a given community and a priest who is in charge of the spiritual care over the sodalists. The Sodalities are united in the Federation, chaired by the chairman chosen by the Convention of the Fedaration Delegates. The chairman is approved by the Polish Bishop's Conference. The Church Assistant of the Fedaration is a priest nominated by the Polish Bishop's Conference. Such an Assistant watches over the Federation's activities and their religious aims.
Mary - the Mother of Saviour and us, the people has a special and exceptional place in a mystery of Jesus and Church. That is why, the Sodality follows Mary in our journey of faith and submits to Her care. In that way, it becomes the Marian school of life and christian activities. The character of the sodalists' inner life, that is their spirituality is expressed by the latin motto: Per Mariam ad Jesum (To Jesus Through Mary).
As the Pope Pius XII wrote in the constitution Bis Saeculari: "The Sodalities are called Marian Sodalities not only because they take their name from Mary the Virgin, but mainly because all sodalists hold Her in great reverence and they are bounded to Her by the complete consacration. They pledge that they will fight insistently for the christian perfection of themselves and other people under the guidance of Holy Virgin Mary, not the sin.
Besides the marian dimension, the spirituality of the sodalists is also based on the path traced out by saint Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. As father Stanisław Mrozek SJ writes: "The Sodality of Our Lady is the school of two spiritualities: the marian one and the ignatian one. They are like two lungs to breath with."
Among Sodalists, there were a lot of eminent people, including the important saints, Doctors of the Church, bishops and kings. Some names should be mentioned: the patron saints of Poland: saint Stanisław Kostka and saint Andrzej Bobola. The greatest sodalist of our time was John Paul II. This Polish pope would say: "The Sodalities of Our Lady are useful. They have their specific character that distinguishes them from any other movements and associations. I know them well. I myself was a prefect in the lower secondary school in Wadowice for two years. Then I was a member of the Sodality of Our Lady for the Halls of Residence in Kraków. The Sodality forms the total of a man's personality. I owe my marian attitude to the Sodality.
The Servant of God, the Primate of the Millenium, cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was also a sodalist. In 1980 he delegated the reactivaion of the Polish sodalities to the priest Tadeusz Uszyński from Warsaw.
The board of the Federation of the Sodalities of our Lady among other things:
- it inspires and coordinates the formative activities of the sodality communities in our Homeland,
- it organizes the annual sodality field retreats, the annual nationwide pilgrimage to Jasna Góra, days of recollection and other occasional pilgrimages, the annual Conventions of Delegates,
- it maintains contact with the Polish Bishop's Conference and with different christian associations in Poland,
- it redacts and edits: the quarterly sodality journal Sodalis Marianus, the newsletter sent off every two weeks to all sodalities, occasional publications,
- it runs the website www.sodalicja.pl
The Federation of Sodalities of Our Lady in Poland is also the governing authority for The Catholic School in Warsaw, including the kindergarden, primary school and the upper secondary school.