Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
A lady coming to the reception of the St. Willehad-Hospital in Wilhelmshaven asks: "Where is the tall sister with the wide heart?" and every body knew immediately whom she asked for: Sister Coronata.
She was born Josefa Scheffer in Rheine-Mesum, May 14th 1932. She grew up with 5 brothers. "There was quite a nice bustle all the time" she remembers. Her father worked for the rail road company, reason enough for her to bless the engineer with a cigar whenever she met guests at the station or went by train herself. "I think my temperament is from my mother, she was very kind and funny."
Childhood, youth and joining the congregation
In earlier times Sister Coronata liked to take part in festivities – she really celebrated her life in the deepest sense of the word. She also had many friends and was always ready for a joke. "But after such festivities I often thought, that can`t be my life" Sr. Coronata recalls today.
After finishing school, she went to Bevergern to learn how to cook. "My mother`s idea was to send me to the Kolping-house in Rheine for this purpose. She might have thought I would meet a nice fellow there for a husband." But the Lord had in mind a different way. In Bevergern Sister Coronata came to know our sisters; they were very kind and they deeply impressed her. "They became my model and my "salvation", because now I knew my way." By joining our community in August 1955 this way became concrete.
Sister Coronatas first profession was May 3 rd 1958. It wasn`t easy for her parents and her brothers to let her go. She remembers her father saying to her mother: "If it is her vocation, she will be happy and we can be grateful." But the tears of her mother are still in her memory, too.
Her work in the "green town by the Sea"
Shortly after her nursing examination she was sent to Wilhelmshaven. The reason was a pulmonary affliction for which the healthy effect of the sea-climate was assumed.
It proved to be right. For the green town by the sea became Sister Coronatas second home.
"In the beginning it was hard "Sister Coronata remembered, "seeing a train from our convent most of all I wished to go with it. I was longing for the many young sisters in the motherhouse. But in Wilhelmshaven too we had a lot of fun and laughed together quite often".
In Wilhelmshaven Sister Coronata was the head of the gynecology department. Quite soon she was appreciated by everybody in the hospital, from the staff to the physicians. She had an open heart for the sick, but in addition for all people: people of all classes, simple and well educated, for rich and poor, no matter if they were German or Turkish or of another nationality. They all asked for her advice, and with the same kindness she always lent an ear to them, also the ear of the heart.
If she couldn`t be found at her place, her colleagues knew her talking to people they said with a special undertone: "Sister Coronata just now has her consultation of the heart." All together this might have been the reason for honoring her as "Mensch des Jahres 2002" in the region of Friesland. In 2008 she received the "Bundesverdienstkreuz" of the Federal Republic of Germany (high government recognition)
Some weeks later she celebrated her Golden Jubilee of profession.
Teamwork for the dear Lord
For 17 years now Sister Coronata has done pastoral care in the hospital. She says: "I have always liked my work, as a nurse and now too, in former times and today. After all it is not important whether I am busy in nursing or in pastoral care. For me all this is healing ministry for the people.
Especially in the diaspora in Wilhelmshaven the ecumenism itself can be understood as healing service."
There is a good and close cooperation with the Pastoral Teams of the city and its surrounding and a very special one with the clercy woman in the Pastoral Team of the hospital. Regularly Sister Coronata organizes religious reflection days for the hospital staff members. She has no difficulties in engaging Christian doctors or others from the hospital as presenter. With a circle of honorary persons she enables a 5-minute prayer service which is offered for all patients and is broadcasted by radio.
Sister Coronata has a wide and generous heart. Many troubles, deep sorrow and anxious questiones are adressed to her and she takes care of them as a matter of fact and in a patient way. Asking her how she is able to cope with and to endure all this she simply laughs "I am grateful to be able to do so, and I just pass on the sorrows to the One who knows how to handle them!!" That is her explanation. And that is the way she can go on being "Sister Sunshine", called so by one of the doorman. This name was taken up with lightning speed from all sides. It is an appropriate expression for her Franciscan cheerfulness.