Mother Amabilis Debicka, SSCJ, 1926-2020

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Mother Amabilis Debicka, SSCJ, age 94, a perpetually professed Sister of the Congregation of Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, entered into eternal life on Thursday, July 16, 2020, at St. Joseph Convent, Munster Township, Portage, PA, after 66 years in consecrated life.

Mother Amabilis Debicka was born Urszula Wanda Maria Debicka in Puck, Poland on June 14, 1926, to Stanislaw and Jadwiga (Knutkowska) Debicki. She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Kazemierz and Antony. Mother Amabilis is survived by her religious Sisters, as well as her niece, nephews and their families.

Mother Amabilis’ youth was marked by suffering, as she was abducted during World War II by the Nazi’s during her eighth grade and was subjected to slavery in Germany, later being sold to an SS family who wished to adopt her.  As the war was waning, Mother managed to escape from her captivity and walked back to Poland. Due to conditions as a fugitive, she acquired tuberculosis, and, at a sanatorium for treatment, met a nurse who recommended entering the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Mother Amabilis entered the Congregation on July 2, 1950, making her First Profession of religious vows on August 2, 1953, and Perpetual Profession on August 2, 1959, in Krakow, Poland. She was sent to Czestochowa, Poland to study organ music and Gregorian chant, after which she served for several years as an organist in Poland until 1961, when her superiors sent her to serve in the Congregation’s fledgling foundation of Sacred Heart Sisters in the United States.

Mother became the first Superior and formator for the Americans entering the Congregation in the United States and longtime financial administrator for the Sisters in America. There were many challenges in the early years, but Mother credited remaining in America to the counsel of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, to whom she had written.  When the American foundation became a province in 1986, Mother became the first Provincial Superior, a position she held for a decade. Because of her unique role in establishing the Congregation of the Sacred Heart Sisters in America, she was accorded the title “Mother” in perpetuity. In addition to her service in administration in the community, Mother Amabilis also served as an organist, kindergarten teacher, catechist and sodality director. Mother loved her homeland and was a great support to her Sisters and people in Poland during time of Communism.  She kept in contact and visited on occasion the Sisters of her Congregation who were serving in the papal household and was known to St. John Paul II. Mother was a 1992 recipient of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Prince Gallitzin Cross Award.

Mother Amabilis Debicka was one of the first major superiors to belong to the Institute on Religious Life and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

Mother Amabilis’s personal holiness, Franciscan joy, wit, and wonderful personality drew many to seek her counsel and prayers. She was the spiritual Mother for nearly all the American Sisters of the Sacred Heart and was a living rule and example. Her beautiful spirit of love and devotion will long be remembered among her Sisters. Since July 16, 2017, Mother was stationed at St. Joseph Convent in Munster Township, Portage, Pennsylvania.

Vigil Rites for Mother Amabilis will be held on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at St. Francis Xavier Church, 211 Powell Avenue, Cresson, PA, beginning with the Rite of Reception at 5:00 PM, with the Reverend Leo F. Arnone, officiating.  Viewing hours will follow on Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, in the church.

An additional viewing will be held on Wednesday morning, July 22, 2020, from 9:15 to 10:15 AM, in St. Francis Xavier Church, 211 Powell Avenue, Cresson, followed by her Funeral Mass at 10:30 AM. The Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak, JCD, Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown, will be the Celebrant. The Reverend Leo F. Arnone, Pastor, will con-celebrate along with other visiting clergy, and the Reverend Louis Kolenkiewicz, will serve as Homilist.

Committal will be in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery, Cresson, where she will be laid to rest alongside her fellow departed Sisters.

In keeping with federal, state, and diocesan guidelines, those attending the viewing and funeral service are required to wear a face covering and observe social distancing. These guidelines will be strictly enforced. Due to these guidelines, the Sisters will not be holding a dinner reception.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mother Amabilis Debicka’s memory to the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 866 Cambria Street, Cresson, PA  16630.

Funeral Arrangements have been made in conjunction with the Wroblewski Funeral Home, Inc., 1442 Wyoming Avenue, Forty Fort, PA 18704 (www.wroblewskifuneralhome.com) and the Matthew R. Decort Funeral Home, 532 Main Street, Portage, PA  15946  (www.decortfh.com).