Sister Marta Silna and Sister Theresa Gottvald began their religious life as Mercy Sisters of St. Francis in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Both Sisters worked as registered nurses in hospitals when their country was still free. They then worked under Nazi rule, during World War II, and later after the war, under the communistic regime in their country. Their Motherhouse was confiscated by the communists and used for government purposes. In 1950, Sister Marta and Sister Theresa fled their country because of religious suppression. They escaped with the help of the people involved in the underground. They took refuge in Austria and worked as nurses in a hospital in Innsbruck.
In the meantime, Bishop Louis B. Kucera of Lincoln, Nebraska, was facing a staffing crisis at St. Thomas Orphanage. He learned from Father Jan Smutny, a Czech refugee priest, that Sister Marta and Sister Theresa were in Austria, so he contacted them and made arrangements for them to come to the Lincoln Diocese.
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