Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister M. Edelbertis Gevers

My name is Sister M. Edelbertis (Ludwine Gevers). I was born on February 22, 1939 as the eleventh of thirteen children in the beautiful Münsterland, in Vreden-Dömern, municipality of Winterswijk, on the Dutch border. Winterswijk is a Dutch city in the province of Gelderland. On January 01, 2022 it had a number of inhabitants of 29,177. Like many families in Dömern, my family Gevers can be traced back several generations.

In 1913, one year before the World War I,  my grandparents, Bernhard and Gertrud Gevers, née Hübers, moved to the "Leibzucht Hubbeling-Assing" (cottage of estate reserved for use by old parents). We received the nickname Steggert to distinguish the generation from the other Gevers. The son of the family, named Heinrich, was just 20 years old. He married my mother Christine, née Kemper, from Vreden-Dömern in 1924.

After the birth of the fifth child, our entire family moved to the teacher's house of the Dömern school, which was empty at that time. Here, we found a new home. In 1939 my parents built a house in Vreden, where I was born as the 11th child. In Vreden, the whole family had a good place to stay. In addition to farm and garden work, my father worked at the Vreden post office and also as a "meat inspector", who inspects the slaughtered meat.

Over the years our family grew to 13 children, ten girls and three boys. With our mother we enjoyed a very happy and colorful childhood. We always remember this time with pleasure. Our father had so many tasks, but he always was there for us children in the evenings.

The 4th child of the older brother and sisters  - Agnes - died of pneumonia in 1928 at the age of nine months. It had been a healthy child until then; but the specific treatment of the disease was not possible. Penicillin, the most widely used antibiotic in the world today, was first discovered in 1928. My parents and we children deeply mourned the death of our sister Agnes. 

All the children learned a profession. Of the 12 children, four were employed at the post office. I completed a two-year-apprenticeship in a canteen kitchen in Lüdinghausen, because my father always considered this basic education important for a woman.

From 1943 to 1944, my eldest brother - Gerhard - was a soldier in the war. Our mother always informed him by letters about all changes and occurrences. We children were very glad about this, even though some of us didn't even know him at all.

My eldest sister Mathilde entered the Congregation of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Münster-Mauritz in 1947 and was given the religious name Nicasia. In the same year, I received the First Holy Communion. In 1958, my sister Elfriede entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Clement  in Münster and received the name Sister Friedburga. Two years later, my sister Juliane also chose the religious life, but in our Congregation in Münster, and received the name Sister M. Christhild.

Through my time in the canteen kitchen I got to know Sister Acharis, a Franciscan Sister, who was the head of the canteen kitchen. I appreciated this Sister very much and showed her a lot of appreciation.

Up to that time, I was still uncertain whether such a life could be possible for me. Through this Sister it became clear to me that I too was called to religious life. In 1962, I decided to join the Mauritzer Franciscan Sisters. After the time of initial formation, I professed my first vows in 1964 and then my perpetual vows in 1970.

In the community my professional path began. I completed my education in nursing with the exam in 1965. After that I fell seriously ill. A year later, after my recovery, I was assigned to the administration of St. Rochus Hospital in Telgte. Two older sisters were working there - Sister M. Blasia and Sister M. Edmunda - also a younger one - Sister M. Adelharda. They all accompanied me very well and also supported me in my recovery (convalescence) by their understanding. Step by step I became healthy. Their example of a life in a religious community encouraged me very much and nurtured my vocation. I came into this assignment, knowing only a little bit of typing. Then I was given a period of practice and was also allowed to take a course in shorthand. With good support, I learned the 10-finger system of typing. This was a great joy for me.

Our Franciscan Congregation had chosen nursing as a special mission. Due to my illnesses, I did not carry out any ministries in nursing directly but I found great understanding for my health restrictions in the leadership of our Congregation, at that time by the General Superior, Sister M. Odilia.

Since 1972, I was allowed to work in different hospitals at the visitors entrances and admitting departments, e.g. in Bremen, Lohne, Lingen ..... In the years 1983-1987, I worked as a secretary in the Provincial Administration, under the direction of the Provincial Superior, Sister M. Plauta.

Due to a serious illness, I could only be assigned to tasks for limited periods of time. This was not so easy for me, but thanks to good accompaniment and understanding Sisters, I was able to get through this time well. I gladly agreed to help for small periods of time in certain areas and was able to stand to my limits.

From 1991 - 1995, I served in Damme at the visitors entrance. I then had to end my ministry because I became seriously ill with Morbus Hodgkin. It was not an easy time for me.

I would have loved to continue my ministry that I had become to cherish. I received good support from the General Leadership and from many Sisters in the form of encouragement and prayer. Together with them I always believed, that I could get through this time of illness well. And so it happened. 

In 1997, I had recovered from my illness and was able to be employed in the admitting department of St. Francis Hospital in Münster. It was a great joy for me to be in contact with people and to offer help, especially in days of illness.

Through my long periods of absence, of health limitations, I have been able to learn how people feel in such times of illness or other infirmities and how important it is, that they are welcomed in the hospital with understanding and benevolence.   

In the year 2012, I was glad and grateful, that after 15 years of service at the visitors entrance of St. Francis Hospital, I was allowed to work at the Motherhouse visitors entrance. Here, too, I gladly took care of visitors and Sisters and  assumed little tasks. Now I could also use my personal time a little more for prayer, walks, painting etc.. I still enjoy painting nature pictures and other motives. Even though I don't see myself as a great "artist", I find my fulfillment and satisfaction in it as well.

Today, I am able to assume fulfillable tasks in the Motherhouse Convent and I am grateful to God that I can go my way in His discipleship. In times of silence and prayer, I think again and again that I have the time now, even on this last path of my possibilities, to reach the goal, that I promised myself repeatedly at the beginning of my religious life. Rainer Maria-Rilke compares life with a "tree and life in growing rings". Through my illnesses I have always experienced other "rings" and I hope that I may also experience the last one with His strength.

The recipe of a happy person is,
to keep the faith!
not to lose hope!
to pray for healthy days!
to give thanks for everything I have experienced so far!