​Sisters of Divine Providence of San Antonio joyfully congratulate Bishop Gary Janak

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Sisters of Divine Providence of San Antonio joyfully congratulate Bishop Gary Janak

By Sister Charlotte Kitowski, CDP

CDP archivist


Could Czech immigrants Francis and Catherine Svec Fikac ever have thought that four of their daughters — Mary, Katie, Sophie and Annie — would one day minister in 27 parishes across the state as Sisters of Divine Providence? Could these sisters — Sisters Prisca, Sylvester, Dennis and Mildred Fikac — ever have imagined that one day their great-nephew (Gary William Janak) would become bishop? In God’s Providence these thoughts became reality.

The first Fikac daughter to enter the convent was Katie in 1905. Eight months later in 1906 her older sister Mary followed. Katie became Sister Sylvester and professed first vows in 1907; Mary became Sister Prisca and professed first vows in 1908. In San Antonio Sister Sylvester ministered at St. Anthony’s and Sister Prisca at St. Mary’s. Together they served 68 years as Sisters in 23 places.

Sister Sylvester’s life was short. Accompanied by her superior, she died at 23 in a train destined for San Antonio where she was to undergo continued treatment for an illness. Because her death occurred in Yoakum, the conductor called Pastor John Sheehan of St. Joseph’s Church for help. In consultation, the Knights of Columbus made arrangements with the funeral home to send the body to Castroville for burial. The kindness of the Yoakum community influenced the congregation’s decision to accept an invitation to teach in St. Joseph’s School, where the Sisters ministered for 72 years. St. Joseph’s School still exists.

The second daughter Sister Prisca Fikac lived to be 84. She ministered through her domestic services in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Two other Fikac sisters joined Sister Prisca later. Sophie entered the convent in 1918 and professed first vows in 1921 as Sister Dennis; and Annie entered in 1920 and professed first vows in 1923 as Sister Mildred. In San Antonio they both taught at St. Michael’s.

Sisters Dennis and Mildred had a combined 109 years in Texas classrooms. They taught in several schools where their older sisters once served. In her last assignment, though, Sister Dennis acquired a new ministry — visiting the sick at Regis Retirement Center in Waco for seven more years.

Sister Mildred taught a total of 15 years in Ennis. Her former student at St. John’s School, Sister Agnes Marie Marusak remembered her: “She always made time for the students. During lunch hour or after school, she would help us high school students develop social skills. I remember the dancing lessons in particular. She was an out-going person, very friendly with the families.”

Both Sister Dennis and Sr. Mildred lived into their 90s. Earlier, Sister Prisca said that one thing that gave her much joy was to have her sisters — Sylvester, Dennis and Mildred — in the convent. No doubt the news that their grand-nephew Gary Janak is now the new bishop in Texas is an added source of happiness.

Today the Sisters of Divine Providence of San Antonio joyfully congratulate Bishop Gary Janak as he enters his ministry of auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of the San Antonio Archdiocese. Buh ti zehnej — Bishop Janak — may God bless you!