Saint of the Month for January is Servant of God Adele Dirsyte

Jan saintAdele was born in 1909 in Lithuania. She was the youngest of six children and her parents were hardworking farmers. Adele spent her child hood working the farm and attending school. Her parents taught her to value hard work. When she was 19 years old, Adele decided to study Philosophy at University. There she was very involved in Catholic college groups and gave many speeches, lectures and conferences to Catholic Youth organizations. After leaving university, Adele took that passion for her faith and worked for Caritas and number of other Catholic organizations that took care of the poor and orphans. She wrote many articles that were published about the need to help others. During the German and Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Adele found a job teaching in a girls school and language academy. Her students shared that Adele took the teaching position as an opportunity to teach the girls about their faith and go to mass and retreats with them. She organized relief efforts whenever she could and hid Jewish students in her home when she could. In 1944, when the Soviets reoccupied her country, she joined a group of activists who sought to bring faith and culture back to Lithuania. Adele worked to strengthening of her people’s religious and national traditions. In 1946, she was arrested for hiding a person who had escaped from the Soviets. She was put on trial before a military tribunal and sentenced to 10 years in a concentration camp. A year later, she was moved from the concentration camp to a forced labor camp in Russia. Life there was extremely difficult, with excessive physical work being aggravated by poor nutrition, lack of hygiene, and intense cold weather. All these affected Adelė’s health but she was known by the other inmates to be energetic and positive, organizing prayer groups to pray the rosary. Over the period of two years, Adele was transferred to several other labor camps where she had to cut rocks, build railways and other hard manual labor. She was always a spiritual leader to those in need. In her spare time during these years, she wrote a Prayer Book for girls who were exiled in the Siberian labor camps. It was a small handwritten book sewn together with cloth covers. The inmates would copy the prayers and make their own prayer book, adding their personal prayer to the next copy. Adele encouraged the women to add their new prayers to their own books and others when they could. During this time, Adele found out that a priest was passing through a nearby village and she arranged for the Eucharist to be brought to the women secretly. Some of the Soviet guards found out after the fact and to punish Adele, she received daily beatings for weeks. When the other inmates realized that she was being brutally beaten, they tried to comfort her, she would say that the guards needed her forgiveness and she would pray for them. Finally the Soviets took her to an isolated prison where they spent months trying to break her spirit and faith. They put her in the mentally ill section of the camp. She died there in 1955 when she was 46 years old. Her process of canonization has started because of her heroic virtues and faith.