It is a historical moment to welcome the guests during the 175th jubilee year of the foundation of the International Congregation. On September 24, 2019, we welcomed 38 employees of the Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) from the United States of America in Muenster.
The Sisters greeted the guests on their way to the General Motherhouse with ringing of Church bells and the waving of American and German flags. It was a moving experience for all.
On the previous Sunday, we were also privileged to welcome Sister Maureen O’Connor (Provincial Superior of American Province), Sister Jomary Trstensky (former President of HSHS), Sister Mary Ann Minor and Sister Sherrey Murphy (former General Superiors). The St. Francis Foundation had invited the Sisters and the American pilgrims group to participate in the 17th ‘Corporate Mission Forum’ 2019 on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.
The mission statement forum of St. Francis Foundation was held under the theme of the founding of our Congregation, 175 years ago.
500 employees from many different facilities of the foundation participated together with the American guests in this forum. In the morning, two designated Franciscan experts, Niklaus Kuster (ofm cap, Switzerland) and Prof. em. Dr. Udo Schmälzle (ofm, Münster) held the main lecture. After this opening lecture, projects from the foundation's facilities were presented later in the morning and subjects were intensified in workshops.
In the afternoon, the 175th anniversary of the Sisters in the Motherhouse Church was honored in a special way. In a 'Journey through time' Father Christopher Bernsmeyer as a chronicler (actor Markus von Hagen) led through the history in a dialogue with St. Francis and Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia. "Father Christopher" also spoke to Sister Mary Ann Minor, General Superior from 1994-2006. She had accompanied the hospital transfer of the German Province into a foundation in 2004.
Sister Mary Ann was very aware that to the foundation, to the many employees, was entrusted much more than just land, buildings or money. The history and spiritual legacy, that is alive in heart and spirit of each sister, was entrusted to the employees.The tradition of 160 years of devoted service to the sick was placed in their hands.
For us sisters, it was very moving to experience the great commitment of the employees, carrying on our heritage; both here and at the other end of the ocean. It was a wonderful day. It was the first time in the history of our Congregation that our two large hospital groups - across continents - could participate in a common forum.
On Thursday, the pilgrims group visited St. Paul's Cathedral and celebrated a Holy Mass in English with Domkapitular Köppen. Then there was sufficient opportunity to explore the beautiful old city of Münster.
On Friday, the pilgrims group followed the footprints of our founder. In 1844, Father Christoph Bernsmeyer founded the Congregation together with four young women in the chapel of grace in Telgte. In a lively way, Father Dr. Langenfeld took the pilgrims group on a journey through the history and spirituality of the chapel of grace in Telgte. Our pilgrims from the United States have certainly also brought many personal concerns to the Sorrowful Mother of Telgte.
The visit of St. Rochus Hospital in Telgte was followed by a PowerPoint Presentation from the Board of St. Francis Foundation and a guided tour through St. Francis Hospital.
The last evening in Germany was a wonderful evening of encounters in the refectory of the Motherhouse.
Our guests returned to the United States of America on September 28, 2019.