Our Global Salvatorian Community: Sister Ewa Tonacka, SDS
During 2023 Catholic Sisters Week, we’re shining a light on the international members of our General Administration, or Generalate, in Rome. Over the week, we’ll share the answers of our seven Team Members to questions about their call to religious life and what it means to belong to the international Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Savior.
Prior to her current position as one of the General Councilors, Sister Ewa Tonacka, SDS worked closely with former prisoners of concentration camps and ghettos. Now, she serves her international congregation of more than 1,000 sisters ministering in 26 countries on five continents.
1) How did you come to know the Sisters of the Divine Savior and decide to enter?
I met the Salvatorian Sisters through Sister Monica, a Salvatorian. Her joy, spontaneity, and openness attracted me, and I decided to attend a retreat at the Provincial house in Goczałkowice, Poland. It was wonderful. I knew immediately that this was my home forever. I decided to join because of the internationality, universality, and openness of the Salvatorian charism. I wanted to be for everyone and to proclaim Jesus to everyone. I joined at the age of 19 and have been in the congregation for 42 years.
2) What was your ministry prior to serving in international Leadership?
I worked closely with the Maximilian-Kolbe-Werk, an organization serving former prisoners of concentration camps and ghettos. I managed a nursing home and a social-medical center servicing this group of people.
In my religious life I was involved in formation as mistress of the juniorate, led ongoing formation, and elected three times as Provincial Superior of the Polish Province. I have also served as an organist in the parish and in the chapel since the beginning of my religious life.
3) What is your most memorable experience as a Salvatorian Sister?
Every encounter I have with another human being is memorable to me. All my religious life I have worked with people. I feel joy and happiness when people come up to me and ask for prayer or to speak with me. The openness of Salvatorians to others attracts people. For example, at a youth meeting I hosted, one participant shared that he didn’t know who Jesus was, therefore, he didn’t believe in Him. My heart hurt and I thought, “How can someone not know Jesus? In the 21st century, people don’t know Jesus!” I think about this often, and ask myself: how do I preach Jesus, following the example of Blessed Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan and Blessed Mary of the Apostles?
4) Why is international collaboration important to the Sisters of the Divine Savior?
Our Salvatorian charism presupposes at its root: cooperation, the unification of forces, the spirit of family, and elements that make us authentic and credible in our apostolates and mission.
International cooperation opens new paths for the Congregation. Our proclamation of Jesus takes place through actions and cooperation between Provinces and the whole Salvatorian Family. The vision of proclaiming the Savior in international networks is a true sign of fidelity to our Founders.