A widow for 26 years, a surgery forced Susanna to find a facility to recover. While driving with her sons, they saw our building and decided to stop in to our Home. Immediately Susanna felt at home and knew that this was the place that she wanted to live permanently.
Susanna enjoys the peace and loving care provided to her by the Little Sisters, employees and volunteers. But Susanna’s life was not always so peaceful.
Susanna was born in Yugoslavia and when she was 16 years old (1941), the Germans invaded her hometown. In 1944 the Russians drove out the Germans and took over occupation. Separated from her father and brother, Susanna and her mother were forced to work in the fields and live in a work camp until 1947. It was then that they were finally reunited with her father and were moved to a border camp near Hungary. Her father befriended one of the guards who helped them escape into Hungary, where they were reunited with her brother.
In anticipation of another occupation they fled to Austria and settled in Linz. Her father worked in an iron mill and her brother was a teacher. The family was finally together again.
In 1948 through the Catholic Church, they signed up to come to America. Susanna was the first family member to receive notice of her acceptance. She departed Europe on September 21, 1951 and arrived at Ellis Island on October 4, 1951. She then traveled to Indianapolis to live with a family who sponsored her.
During the journey, Susanna met a kind young man named Alex Thieljung on the ship. Alex was sponsored by a family in Chicago and would travel there to live. Upon arrival at their respective destinations in America, they began corresponding. In November of 1951, Susanna received a call from Alex’s aunt inviting Susanna to spend Christmas with their family. On Christmas Eve, Alex proposed. Susanna’s father, mother and brother arrived in America in 1952. The family was reunited once again and able to attend the wedding. Susanna and Alex were married for 37 years and were blessed with three wonderful sons.
Susanna is very open about her past. She is quick to tell anyone that she does not grieve or have ill feelings. She is grateful for all of the blessings that the Lord has given to her and her family.
As testament to her true faith, Susanna is convinced that it was God’s Divine Providence that led her to us. We feel so blessed to have her as a member of our family. She is truly a joy and an inspiration to all of us.