Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister M. Margret Steggemann

I grew up as the oldest of three girls in Stadtlohn, in the beautiful Münsterland. Stadtlohn is a small town.  Before and during the World War II, it had many weaving mills and spinning mills. Therefore it was important to the enemy, to destroy this infrastructure.

When I was born in 1944, my hometown was a heap of ruins. This sight, especially when I went to school, was quite normal for me. I didn't know it any other way. Actually, it was interesting to play in the rubble.

But for my parents, great worries and hardships soon began.  My mother got pulmonary tuberculosis after the second child. I can remember only very small occurrences with her. Because of this, my sister and I were separated. For about a year we lived with our grandparents. I lived with my mother's parents, my sister lived with my father's parents. Then, after my mother's death in 1949, my father's younger sisters took care of us.

My father's parents' house had been badly damaged during the war. Nevertheless, several families lived there. We also lived there temporarily. It was a very difficult time for my father, but also for all the family members.

But I don't remember that it was really burdening to me. There were still three children of my age at my grandmother's house and we could play together. Especially to "Aunt Toni", Papa`s sister-in-law, I could open my heart.

Soon after the death of my mother I started school. That was very hard for me. I worried my father and his sisters a lot, because I didn`t want to go to school and more often I was sick. 

Then my father married for a second time. With my second mother I got along very well. Sadly, she died already in 1969. For my 6 years younger sister I was the big sister.

After school, I wanted to learn a profession. I would have liked to become a dressmaker. Unfortunately, I didn't get a certificate because of my visual impairment.

 In 1958, the newly built hospital in Stadtlohn was urgently looking for staff to work at the entrance and in the wards. I immediately got hooked on this job. I wanted to help the sick people. My mother accompanied me to the hospital to talk to Sister Superior, and that's how I became a staff member. In the first years I often thought that I would never want to lead such a strict life as the sisters led.

I enjoyed taking part in all the festivities that were held in Stadtlohn and the surrounding area. That was not not necessarily viewed favorably by the Sisters.After a few years, I realized how important it was to have qualified education in nursing. So I entered the local nursing school.  But then everything turned out different:  An inner voice - the voice of God - knocked on my door and told me that He wants me, totally committed to Him. I did not get any peace. After much deliberation and discussion (with pastors and religious Sisters), I asked to be admitted to the Congregation of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Münster - without a nursing exam. My family was shocked, especially my older sister. But my mother supported me. She also convinced my father.

I arrived in Münster Mauritz on August 15, 1964.The usual religious formation time followed: the time of postulancy and novitiate. We were 16 women who entered our Congregation in the same year. Our group was always active: we had a lot of fun together and it was very lively. 

The preparation period for the first profession of vows in 1967 was marked by a hard struggle: "Is this the path God is calling me to follow?  Can this be a decision for a lifetime?"  During this time I experienced God's guidance very intensely.

After my first profession of vows in 1967, the juniorate period followed with the intermediate secondary school-leaving certificate, with the Nursing exam and with practical assignments in our St. Francis Hospital. Following several years in healthcare, I completed further education to become a director of nursing. After completing my exam, I assumed the head nurse ministry in various hospitals. 

Saying goodbye to the 'care directly at the patient's bedside' became very difficult for me. Therefore, I was glad to be asked to assume the director's ministry at Elizabeth Hospice in Datteln. It was the best time in my professional life.

After more than four years, I was appointed to the board of directors of the Order's own hospitals. Here I was able to pass on a lot of experiences, especially to our nursing staff.

In 2005, I was elected to the Provincial Council. After four years as a Provincial Councilor, it was my wish to go to Berlin to support Sr. M. Juvenalis and Sr. M. Hannelore in their work for people suffering from AIDS. It was my chance to work here in Berlin as a pastoral care worker in the Caritas Hospice Berlin, which was at that time just opened.

After almost 10 years, at the age of 75, I retired from my active ministry but I continue to volunteer at the TAUWERK hospice service and at the Caritas Hospice Berlin.

I thank God for each day of my life He has given me and that I can still share His graces with full hands.