Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
Before I come to dates and facts of my life, I want to quote a word of Dietrich Bonhoeffer which accompanies me since some time: “Gratitude enriches life. We easily overestimate our own activity and work and their importance compared to what we have come to be through others.”
The older I grow the more I reflect on my life. I feel gratitude for people and sisters who mean a lot to me and who accompanied the way of my life.
October 19th 1931 I was born as the fifth of eleven children in Bevergern, a small village at the Teutoburger Wald. I grew up in a Christian family, religious education was very important for my parents. The first years in school have been determined by the 2nd world war and National sozialism.
After leaving the general school there followed one year of housekeeping in a family in Münster. There I came to know the sisters of the St. Francis-Hospital. I felt a deep affection for the way of life of these Sisters.
Back home again, I was stirred by the decision of two of my elder Sisters to join the religious community of St. Mary Magdalene Postel of Heiligenstadt. Our whole family was moved. The following years I lived at home, worked in the parental house and by the hour in the local hospital, where I met the Sisters of St. Francis, and was actively engaged in the religious life of the parish and in youth groups. By the contacts with the Sisters and my affection for their way of life the wish to become a Franciscan Sister grew more and more. My decision to join the community of St. Francis Sisters was accompanied by much uncertainty and anxiety.
Together with a friend from the Parish we prayed a novena to our Lady. I felt that the prayer gave strength to me. So the day of my entrance at January 31th 1953 came nearer – it is exactly 60 years now.
After the introduction into religious life I did my first profession Oct. 28th 1955 and final vows July 2nd 1961. We were 14 sisters in our group. The year of my first profession was overshadowed by the sudden death of my father, who died in an accident in his quarry.
After having studied nursery I was asked to get through a 3 years study for teacher in a kindergarten. Together with two other sisters I visited the Hildegardis-school in Münster. 1959, I finally could start my work in the kindergarten in Horstmar. I enjoyed this job very much. Here the word of Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the first German Kindergarten came true for me: “the best toy for a child is another child. And many things I know, I know from the children, and daily I continue to learn from them”.
After 14 years in Horstmar, I was transferred to Brake. Brake is diaspora and a small harbour town at the Weser river-mouth. Here I came to know people with a totally different mentality, formed by a rough northern wind and sailor’s atmosphere.
Six further years in the Kindergarten of Lindern followed from 1974. I was happy to become more engaged in the organization of faith life in the parish.
After a time in an institute for spirituality of religious life in Munich the office of Noviciate leadership was conferred to me by the General leadership, a manifold mission which should ’nt be underestimated in its importance. In the six years of this task there were encircling and good experiences. Each situation was a special one. Joy and sorrow, benevolence and disappointment sometimes were side by side.
In the Province chapter of 1986 I was elected as Provincial Vicaress. I moved to Telgte, the former residence of the Province Queen of Mary. Together with Sister M. Veronika I worked here for and with the sisters of the Province. The motto of our former Provincial Statutes accompanied me always: “It is meaning and purpose of our community determined by the Gospel to testify Jesus, who has called each of us to follow him.” (Art. 58). This work in the Province was a good time, especially the cooperation of the sisters at religious events. The sisters were concerned to deepen their religious life. We looked for ways to answer the needs of the sisters. We arranged regional meetings where religious topics and themes of community life were discussed.
But it turned into depression when convents had to be dissolved. These always were painful situations, for the sisters as well as the parishes concerned.
After the re-union of Germany the Franciscan brothers established a soup kitchen in Halberstadt. Two of our sisters had an appointment there. After I had finished my work in the Province I asked to work there too, this wish was granted. Here I came to know people, who inspite of poverty and 40 years DDR-government were filled with deep hope and longing.
The Provincial chapter 1997 decided to do the first steps for a closer together between people of faith and our community. A group of sisters had an intensive preparation time, so 2000 the first meeting of the “Weggemeinschaft” could take place. Appointed by the Provincial council I became – together with a group of sisters – the authorized representation of the “Weggemeinschaft”. I enjoyed this work, especially sharing Franciscan spirituality with interested people, to share their life faith and to feel their longing and hope.For 8 years I was in charge of this work.
Since 2008 I am living, together with two more sisters, in the St. Elizabeth-Hospital of Mettingen, a clinic for geriatric rehabilitation. We take over pastoral care; I am responsible for the chapel, where we celebrate our daily services.
I am 81 years now; looking back into my life. I am filled with gratitude towards God, our community and the many people who have influenced my life, who have gone with me and who always stood to me.
It is wonderful to live in a community together with people stamped by common faith, held by a common hope and called for love to God and fellow people.
The God of the faith is the foundation of our hope. 1 Peter 3, 15 says: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope”. I feel appealed by this call and want to keep it vital in my every day life.