Friday, May 26, 2017

Als Antwort auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016), the history of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC, translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC.

Expansion in America (Continued)
South America

Chile:  In addition to work in education, the apostolate in hospitals became more important.  In 1937, State officials in Chile negotiated with the Province for the acceptance of the hospitals in Puerto Montt, Valdivia and Osorno.  When the negotiations threatened to fail due to lack of their own Sisters, the Chilean Province offered to assume the traveling expenses for 12 Sisters from Germany.  Under these conditions, a contract was finally signed.  In all, during the above-mentioned year, 26 Sisters were sent from Germany to Chile.
Many schools in South America, especially the Colegios, were operated under the sponsorship of the Congregation. . . .
Political unrest aroused fears in the Sisters in Chile.  In 1932, sporadic periods of unrest and revolution went on for months.  The acute danger that religious and foreigners would be expelled was avoided by a change in government. . . .
As in earlier years, Chile suffered damage from natural catastrophes.  Especially fire and earthquakes caused great harm.  They often brought about many fatalities, but also showed the willingness of the people to help those in need.  A fire destroyed the Colegio in San Fernando in 1935.  In 1941 the hospital in Ancud burned to the ground  With great difficulty and danger, the Sisters and the personnel, with the help of the citizens of the city, were able to save all patients and some of the furnishings. . . .
In March 1945, part of the Motherhouse in San Bernardo was destroyed by a fire which began in a chimney.

The worst natural disaster took place on January 24, 1939, when an earthquake destroyed large areas of the country and caused heavy damage in the Chilean Province.  "All our foundations in the affected area were partially or totally destroyed: the Colegios in Concepción, Talcahuano and Cauquenes, as well as the hospitals in Linares, Cauquenes and Angol." With the collapse of the hospital in Cauquenes, 45 persons lost their lives; patients, employees and one Sister, who was buried under the rubble and who could not be freed until hours later.  That same day she died of her injuries.  Two Sisters died when the school in Concepción collapsed and many were injured, some seriously.  Conditions in the region were extremely difficult.  There was a lack of food and water, despite the pouring rain.  Dry accommodations were accompanied by constant fear, because of continuing strong aftershocks day and night.  The dead and wounded were everywhere, but no outside help was possible due to the disruption of transportation.

When conditions grew calmer and there was contact with the outside, clean-up and rebuilding began.  In some areas instruction could begin by May, even though in limited space.  The Province had suffered tremendous losses and was faced with gigantic tasks.  With courage and trust in God, the Sisters looked to the future.  After all, many of them had miraculously escaped death.  Soon generous support poured in from the other Provinces: donations of money and goods were on the way.  Collections were held. . . . The missions in Chile which had not suffered from the earthquake avoided any local repairs that were not absolutely necessary, to be able to send as much money for the rebuilding as they could.  Thus, in this year massive building activities are recorded.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Another Dark Day

We continue to pray for everyone affected by the attack in Manchester.  Education for Justice has made available a litany, "Another Dark Day" (available here) to pray not only for those affected by another act of violence, but also to uproot the hatred growing in people's hearts.

We thank Sister Joanne Bednar for drawing our attention to this prayer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Als Antwort auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016), the history of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC, translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC.

Expansion in America

The American foundations were spared the constraints and the horrors of Nazi domination and the immediate acts of war.  While the gradual loss of activities took place in Europe, the Provinces in America were able to expand freely, and, until 1939, with the support of personnel from Germany.  Thus there was much activity during these years.  Because of the times or special circumstances, houses were closed and new ones opened; activities were relinquished, changed or new ones undertaken.  Despite the constant increase in the number of Sisters during these years, not all the offers, by far, for new foundations could be considered.  Again and again, the Chronicles mention this fact together with the regret that there was a "lack of Sisters."

In this regard, the situation was especially difficult in Chile.  A request made to both North American Provinces in the year 1936, asking for missionaries to Chile, called forth much enthusiasm among the younger Sisters.  One Sister was chosen from each Province, and again in 1941.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Holy Hour for Peace

The Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth invite you to a monthly Holy Hour of Quiet Prayer for Peace at Holy Family Chapel, 2 Convent Road, Convent Station, NJ.  The Holy Hour will be held on Tuesday, May 16 (and the third Tuesday of every month) from 6:30-7:30 pm.  Everyone is invited.  No RSVP is necessary.  For more information, contact Sister Maryanne Tracey at

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Pope's TED Talk

Two weeks ago, the attendees at the annual TED conference (TED2017) in Vancouver, British Columbia, were surprised by the unannounced speaker who appeared -- Pope Francis!  In a talk recorded at the Vatican in April and shown on screen at the conference, the Holy Father called for a "revolution of tenderness," and spoke of "why the only future worth building includes everyone."  Because many of the people in the audience were "key players" in the global technology industry, Pope Francis directed a portion of his message toward them:  "How wonderful it would be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion.  How wonderful it would be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.  How wonderful it would be if solidarity -- this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word -- were not simply reduced to social work and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries."  Click here to view this talk, which is about 18 minutes long, but well worth the time it takes to view!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Als Antwort auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016), the history of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC, translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC.

[We continue last week's post spoke about the Bohemian Vice Province and the beginning of the Sisters' departure from Schlackenwerth.]

"For the 39 remaining Sisters the situation became ever more threatening.  Mother Theresia Strachwitz, the Superior of the Vice Province sent a letter to Mother Liboria in Paderborn on July 9, 1945, in which she wrote that 'it was totally useless to take steps to be able to remain herer.  We would have no prospect of any kind of activity or livelihood.  Our mission here is literally ended. . . .' Mother Teresia risked her life trying to obtain permission to leave.  This meant many trips under difficult conditions (Germans were forbidden to travel by train) for meetings with various officials of state and church. . . . The Sisters left Schlackenwerth on November 8, 1945. . . The journey, in two groups, began . . . amid unimaginable difficulties.  The van that had been put at their disposal proved unserviceable already on the first day.  With great effort, after a 19 hour trip (usually took 1 1/2 hours) and a night in the bitter cold on the highway, the Sister reached Eger, where friendly people from the town came to their aid.  There they found refuge with the Sisters of the Cross, until another means of transport was able to be obtained and the journey to Waldsassen could continue on November 14.  After stopping for another week, they continued on in two groups by train to Bad Kissingen, where the Mary Ward Sisters offered them accommodations.  Finally, on November 25, they were all able to travel together in a furniture van to Fulda, where they were heartily received by the Vincentians and remained for a week. . . . They continued on to Kassel by bus on December 2 and then to the Motherhouse in Paderborn.  As the Angelus bells rang at noon on the second Sunday in Advent, in pouring rain, the large bus pulled into the courtyard.  The Sisters in the Motherhouse had been awaiting the arrival of their Sister Companions.  Due to poor mail connections, the Motherhouse Sisters did not know whether their departure had been successful and, on the other hand, the arriving Sisters had no idea of the extent of the destruction of the Motherhouse.  They wept at the sight."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stop Trafficking

The May issue of Stop Trafficking is now available here.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt in 2017, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016),  the history of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC (translated into English by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC).

"Due to difficult political circumstances and the urgent demand of the government, the foundations in Bohemia were united into the Czech Vice-Province in 1925.  The Sisters has been carrying out Mother Pauline's mission in education there since 1875. . . .  All foundations were recognized and esteemed.  The period of National Socialism, however, put them in a difficult position.
. . .
"Toward the end of the war all German Sisters of the Vice-Province lived in Schlackenwerth.  The war took on ever more gruesome forms.  About one million refugees came through Schlackenwerth, of whom often 180-200 persons found refuge with the Sisters; everything was shared.  The unconditional surrender of Germany did not make things easier for the Sisters and the other Germans, but rather made the situation worse.  Especially in the West, hatred against "the Germans" no longer knew any bounds and was directed toward "all" Germans.  During the period following, all Germans had to wear white armbands.

"According to one decree issued in May 1945, all Germans who had entered the country after 1938 were to leave within 18 hours.  This involved four of our older Sisters.  On May 27 they traveled on foot, by train or car through Aue, Gera, Leipzig, Halberstadt and Braunschweig to Höxter, where they finally arrived in Haus Nazareth on June 25, completely exhausted from this unimaginably arduous journey.  They had experienced an incalculable number of refugees, the most difficult conditions of transport and totally inadequate supplies, but again and again they had met good people who helped them."

Friday, April 28, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt in 2017, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016),  the history of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC (translated into English by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC).

[Note: Recall that the bombing of the Motherhouse was covered in our post on April 12.  This information should follow what was contained in that post.]

"From January to April 1945, there was significant damage to the missions in Magdeburg, Cologne, Bonn, Stieldorf, Siegburg, Dortmund Höxter, and Soest.  Each convent could relate its own story of fear, desperation and trust in God, including the courageous, and sometimes heroic, effort to comfort and rescue the children, the blind, and the injured soldiers entrusted to our care.  St. Anthony Home in Soest was almost completely destroyed by a direct hit.  Two Sisters, Sister Bernolda Breuer and Sister Vitalica Rottbeck, were buried under the rubble and died of their injuries shortly after.  Anrath had been liberated by the Americans already on March 1; the other cities, during the course of April.  The Second World War finally came to an end with unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945.  The population and the entire country would suffer from the consequences for a long time."

Monday, April 24, 2017

An Earth Week Invitation

You are invited to join the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, the Academy of Saint Elizabeth and the College of Saint Elizabeth to celebrate "Earth Week 2017."  Click here to view an invitation to their Earth Day Prayer Service on Tuesday, April 25 at 11:30 am.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day

On this Earth Day, perhaps we can review the Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si ("On Care for our Common Home"), promulgated by Pope Francis in 2015.  Perhaps, too, we could pray and share the prayers Pope Francis offers at the end of the Encyclical:

A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

A Christian prayer in union with creation
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt in 2017, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016),  the history of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC (translated into English by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC).

"In September 1944, many refugees came from the occupied areas in the West, as well as evacuees from Aachen, Cologne and the Ruhr area.  Various persons and groups found shelter in the Motherhouse:  three siblings of Mother Anselmis, who had lost their house in Aachen, 13 Sisters of Divine Providence, 16 Cellitines from Düren, 11 Aachen Franciscans, a Benedictine nun from Bonn-Endenich, two Sisters and 23 girls from St. Agnes Stift in Bonn, where the situation was becoming increasingly threatening.  All were happy to help with the great workload in the Motherhouse and the Military Hospital.  Individual missions that were able to also sheltered the homeless.  From August 30, 1944 until April 1945, Wiedenbrück housed the interned Cardinal Augustin Hlond, Archbishop of Posen-Gnesen and his secretary.  Bonn sheltered six caregivers with 39 children from a Home in Füssenich, as well as 38 small children and their caregivers from the Marienheim in Bonn.  Wanzleben hosted 22 children and two Sisters of Our Lady from Geldern.  The Marienschule in Brilon was used as temporary housing for evacuees, who arrived day and night.

During this time of great need, the Sisters also experienced joy-filled days: the Investing of two Postulants on February 11 and the Final Profession of seven Sisters.  Despite her absence, the golden jubilee of other Anselmis Nickes was celebrated in May and in September, that of Sister Carita Becker."

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about this excerpt?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Christ is Alive: No More Sterile Pessimism!

In his homily at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening, Pope Francis said,

"In the resurrection, Christ rolled back the stone of the tomb, but he wants also to break down all the walls that keep us locked in our sterile pessimism, in our carefully constructed ivory towers that isolate us from life, in our compulsive need for security and in boundless ambition that can make us compromise the dignity of others. . . . The Lord is alive!  He is living and he wants to rise again in all those faces that have buried hope, buried dreams, buried dignity.  If we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, then we are not Christians."

Click here to read the homily in its entirety.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Drink From New Wineskins: Chrism Mass Homily

At today's Chrism Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis urged priests to "drink from three new wineskins . . . 'contagious fullness' which Our Lady radiates with her whole being, the 'inclusive concreteness' of the story of the Samaritan woman, and the 'utter meekness' whereby the Holy Spirit ceaselessly wells up and flows forth from the pierced heart of Jesus our Lord."  Click here to read the entire homily.

Good Friday with Pax Christi

Pax Christi Metro New York will host its 35th annual Good Friday Way of the Cross tomorrow, beginning at 8:30.  Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt in 2017, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016),  the history of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC (translated into English by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC).

[Note:  This post wanders from the chronological order of previous and future posts.  However, its significance to Holy Week seems to direct us to present it at this time.]

"In comparison to other cities, Paderborn was spared from heavy attacks until 1945, despite frequent alarms and minimal local bombing.  On January 17 and on March 22 and 27, the city experienced frightful attacks. . . . On March 27, Tuesday in Holy Week, the sirens howled at 5:00 pm.  'We couldn't get to the cellar fast enough.  In great haste, driven by the fear for their lives, crowds of people came to us:  our neighbors . . . travelers from the Casselertor train station where the train had just arrived, pedestrians from the street.'  Groups of heavy bombers flew low over Paderborn and dropped aerial mines, phosphor canisters, incendiary and high-explosive bombs on the defenseless city.  The hail of bombs poured out over the Motherhouse.  The people who were crowded into the corridors in the cellar could hear and feel the floors of the building above them collapse.  No one even thought about rescue. 'Suddenly, a nerve-shattering shock. The ground beneath us rocked under our feet, the walls buckled doors and windows sprang out of their frames. . . . We covered ourselves with coats and blankets and held each other tight.' A high-explosive bomb had landed near the chapel, about 10 meters from the group.  Finally, after a 28 minute hail of bombs, there was a pause.  Shortly after, one of the soldiers in the military hospital called out in a loud voice: 'The entire house is burning.  Everybody out of the cellar!'  All found a way out and there was no loss of life.  A horrifying sight awaited them outside: the Motherhouse, the Retreat House and the non-residential building were one huge conflagration, with flames coming out of almost all the windows.  Even the trees, bushes and shrubs were like blazing torches.  The other foundations in Paderborn were also destroyed: St. Joseph House, the School for the Blind, the Leokonvikt (Sister Coleta Pennekamp lost her life here), Priests' Seminary, Minor Seminary, Archbishop's Palais.  In all, 255 Professed Sisters, 6 Novices and 5 Postulants were homeless.  Most of them, like the other inhabitants of Paderborn, fled out of the burning city to the surrounding farming communities or to families at the edge of the city whose houses were still standing, and found refuge there.  Among them were two Sisters who had rescued the Blessed Sacrament in the portable tabernacle from the cellar.  The willingness to help was evident everywhere.  The flight was especially difficult for the old, sick and helpless Sisters like critically ill Sister Carita Becker.  Archbishop Lorenz Jäger, who had also lost everything, tried to help wherever and however he could.  He himself went to Dörenhagen by bike to find lodging for the Sisters and even obtained a commercial vehicle to convey the sick.  Even though the people there had already filled all available places with evacuees from the large cities, 60 Sisters still found temporary shelter there.  The stress of the flight proved too much for Sister Carita.  She died on Good Friday, March 30.  With great difficulty, her body was brought to Paderborn a few days later in a handcart and buried in the Sisters' Cemetery to the right of St. Conrad's Chapel."

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about this excerpt?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt in 2017, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016), the history of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC (translated into English by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC).

"When Hitler, despite the hopeless situation (the Allied troops had landed on the coast of Normandy), refused to surrender, the decision was made to remove him by force to avoid an even greater evil.  On July 20, 1944, an assassination attempt was made in his headquarters in East Prussia, but failed.  He was only slightly injured.  A wave of prosecution followed.  Hitler ordered brutal punishment for all participants and confidants.  In the following weeks thousands of opponents to the Regime were arrested.  About 5,000 of them were executed by the end of the war or died in prison.  Among those hanged in Berlin-Plötzensee was Baron Ferdinand von Lüninck, a grandnephew of Mother Pauline, grandson of her brother Hermann.  He had been arrested in Ostwig along with his brother Hermann, who was freed in April 1945.  In a letter dated February 1, 1945, he told of unexpected spiritual assistance and several conspicuous occurrences, which he attributed to Mother Pauline's intercession."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Prayer for the People of Syria

Almighty eternal God, source of all compassion,
the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria;
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
and comfort to those mourning the dead.
Empower and encourage Syria's neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.

O God of hope and Father of mercy,
your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies.
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Friday, March 31, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

This week's excerpt from Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (In Response to God's Call, by Sister Anna Schwanz, translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, copyright 2016, Bonifatius) comes from the section entitled "The Second World War and the Destruction of the Motherhouse."

"The Nazi ideology had a disastrous effect on the old and the ill.  Whoever was not able to be absorbed into the workplace, 'was no longer of use to the national community.' He was considered useless and was treated accordingly.  Here a new need opened.  Many of the Sisters who had returned to the Motherhouse from their apostolates trained for nursing or studied to be caregivers, to be able to help these people.  So that the openness for social and caregiving activities would be more apparent than before, the Congregation for Religious in Rome permitted the expansion of Article 4 in the Constitutions:  'The Community will also undertake the administration of institutions and works of love for neighbor, which are suitable for the, especially care of the sick, activity in homes for the elderly, support of the poor, the blink, those at risk, the squalid, the mentally challenged, etc.'  The Sisters were convinced that in her ready openness to change and her willingness to address the needs of the times, Mother Pauline would have done the same."
. . .

"The most difficult war years were still to come: the Russian Campaign in 1941, the declaration of war on Japan by the United States and the resulting declaration of war on the United States by Germany.  'Thus almost the entire world was involved in destructive war.' The active mail correspondence from Germany with the General Superior, who was in North America, as well as the Sisters of both Provinces, was hampered."
. . .

"The Motherhouse and the Retreat House in Paderborn avoided seizure, when the Retreat House was repurposed as Maria Immaculata Reserve Military Hospital and was under military administration from May 1941 on.  The Sisters promised service as nurses and housekeepers.  By July 7, it was at capacity with 150 ill soldiers.  For the most part, they were not severely wounded.  Some suffered from eye injuries or from mental problems.  Several Red Cross workers supported the Sisters in their work.  All the soldiers' laundry was washed, ironed and mended in the Motherhouse, which also assumed responsibility for the meals at the doctors' center in the School for the Blind.  The soldiers felt comfortable, were grateful for the loving care, and helped with tasks as soon as they felt able.  They enjoyed the weekly visits from the hospital chaplain. . . . Thanks to this good spirit, one or the other Candidate who wanted to enter, could be received.  The management of the hospital requested her as temporary worker from the Employment Office and she could then, as a Postulant, work in the military hospital.

Additional military hospitals were established in the Minor Seminary, the Leokonvikt, the Priests' Seminary and the male residence in the School for the Blind.  In all of these, the Sisters assisted with the nursing and the housekeeping."

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about this excerpt?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

From Darkness to Light

Thanks to the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality -- and our very own Sisters Mary Irene and Gale --- for providing this Lenten reflection booklet, "From Darkness to Light."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Earth Hour

From 8:30 to 9:30 this evening (local time), we are invited to take part in "Earth Hour" -- that is, an hour to bring our environment to mind.  Some people observe Earth Hour by turning off their lights or their electronic devices for an hour.  Others find different ways to observe Earth Hour, including an hour of prayer.  However you choose to observe the hour, try to make it a catalyst for significant environmental awareness in your life.  Click here for more information.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

This week's excerpt from Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (In Response to God's Call, by Sister Anna Schwanz, translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, copyright 2016, Bonifatius) comes from the section entitled "The Second World War and the Destruction of the Motherhouse."

"[In 1939] . . . the most drastic changes in personnel were affected.  Overnight, more and more Sisters lost the apostolic activities for which they had been prepared.  In some places, it was possible to spontaneously take on another activity, which arose from an emergency. In Soest and Magdeburg, empty rooms in homes for women were made available; later on in other places, lodging for the employed, students, evacuees and refugees.  The Sisters in other places gave religious instruction after school hours and also tutored.  In the towns nearby they helped children with their homework, served as organists and sacristans, conducted days of recollection for young people, cared for girls and were open to any tasks that arose.  Later, they also took on the management of kitchens in various men's monasteries, because the Brothers were often drafted for military service.  As far as lay in their power, the Sisters thereby ensured the existence of the convents.  They received an introduction to pastoral care and work in the parish by attending courses offered at the Motherhouse.  Many received the Missio canonica (certification to teach religion).  In all, 87 Sisters left their homeland in 1933 for service in the USA, Chile and Uruguay/Argentina.  The last eight Sisters left on May 19, 1939.

There were, however, also new foundations: in March, 1939, the Sisters took over a small Home for the Elderly in Stieldorf and on July 1, they made a foundation in Halle on the Saale River in the Diaspora.  Here the Sisters helped in the parish office and with pastoral care and served as organist.  Because the Nazis tolerated no religious in Halle, in reply to the appeal of the parish priest, the Provincial sent the Sisters there in modified dress, which they wore until December 8, 1947.  During the course of the war, small missions were opened in Scharfenberg, Ottbergen, Winterberg, Altenbüren and Bochum.

The Generalate made a new foundation in Beek, near Nymwegen, Holland, in March, 1939.  The house was planned as a refuge for Mother Anselmis, for whom, despite the end of the court proceedings regarding finances, it was not advisable to return to Paderborn even for a brief visit.  A home for older women and a sanatorium for persons with eating disorders were also established in Huize St. Elizabeth.  Six Sisters from the German Province began work there, one of them a native of Holland.

Despite the hard times, the Sisters celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation on August 21, 1939 in the firm hope that Mother Pauline's life's work was secure in God's Providence even amid the storms of the present time."

Reflection: What do you find most interesting about this excerpt?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

This week's excerpts from Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (In Response to God's Call, by Sister Anna Schwanz, transl. Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, copyright 2016, Bonifatius) come from the section entitled, "The Congregation from 1926 until 1945."

Court Proceedings Regarding Finances
"With the introduction of the court proceedings regarding finances in 1935, an extreme manner of defamation and persecution of religious congregations began.  As was later uncovered in secret documents, the aim was to have them disappear completely, step by step.  'The religious Congregtions, in which we see only the negation of life and a great danger to the morale of the German people, must disappear. . . We can no longer tolerate these clerical-conventual confinements in the Fatherland.  There is only one Reich, one religion with the leader of the Reich as the head' (Chronicles of the German Province).  Our Congregation and the German Province were also involved in these proceedings."
. . .
"After Hitler seized power . . . general economic distress grew worse from month to month.  The German Province found itself in a difficult financial situation, because for years already the municipal and state subsidies had practically ceased, the number of students and children in their care had decreased, and, as a result, the missions had been able to send little or no funds to the Motherhouse.  Thus, it was barely possible to meet the increased interest obligations.

With a heavy heart, on February 19, 1934, Mother Godeharda Koch, Provincial at that time, addressed a call for help to the missions and suggested ways they could save money.  These dealt with travel, clothing, correspondence, repairs and purchases.  Regarding living expenses she wrote:  'By a basic reduction in our cost of living, it would be possible for each house to save at least 10 Pfennig per person per day, which could then be sent to support the burdened Motherhouse.  We also hope for and expect, that by avoiding expenditures and improvements, etc., each foundation will find it possible to send the Motherhouse a donation in proportion to the circumstances in that house.  That is the only way that will make it possible for us to meet our payment obligations and to avert disaster for the Congregation.'"

[The explanation for and a detailed chronology of the arrests and seizures during this time can be found in the text of the book.  They are far too detailed to include in a blog post, but are very well worth the time and effort to read.]

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about this excerpt?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

This week's excerpts from Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (In Response to God's Call, by Sister Anna Schwanz, transl. Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, copyright 2016, Bonifatius) come from the section entitled, "The Congregation from 1926 until 1945."

Effects of National Socialism on Apostolic Activities
German Province
"In 1933, apostolic activities were not affected at first.  There were even some permissions granted. . . . The professional education of the Sisters was still possible, especially in the final examination at the close of their studies.  Several Sisters took examinations for the teaching profession, for social work in our homes, for nursing or in practical professions, such as dressmaking or gardening.  At every examination, regardless of type, a 'socio-political qualification' was necessary.  Soon there were obstacles and intrusions into every activity.  The sales tax for schools (1933) was followed by the difficulty which Sisters encountered when they attempted to pursue higher education (1934) and in 1936 School Directors had to produce an Arian Certificate.  Officials and those employed in public service were not permitted to send their children to private schools.  The depleted school population that resulted caused major financial problems."
"When bombs totally destroyed the schools in 1943, our educational activities in Dortmund ended a second time.  Several Sisters found shelter with the Vincentians at the orphanage.  Until 1945 they ministered in pastoral and charitable activities in various parishes. . . . Not only the schools offering a general education were closed, but also home economics schools and schools for young women. . . . Work in the kindergartens became more and more difficult. . . . In the area of the education of the blind, both the school and the job training department suffered limitations and setbacks. . . . Similar developments can be related about other orphanages and homes. . . . Retreat work also suffered much interference. . . . Nursing services continued to be rendered in the Hospital in Anrath, as well as within the parish.  To this was added the vast activity in the military hospitals, because most of the episcopal facilities where our Sisters served as housekeepers had been transformed into military hospitals.

Under the most difficult circumstances, the Sisters tried to work for the Church and the common good, to fulfill their mission by taking on various activities and, as best they could by their contributions, to ensure the survival of the Congregation."

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about these brief excerpts?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Stop Trafficking Newsletter for March

The March 2017 issue of Stop Trafficking -- focusing on how ordinary citizens and computer specialists assist victims of human trafficking via the Internet -- is available here.

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

We continue our reading of excerpts from  Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (In Response to God's Call), by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC (copyright 2016, Bonifatius), translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC.

The First World War and its Consequences
The limitations set on travel and mail service, e.g. strict censorship, specified length, very slow delivery, caused a major break in communication for our international Congregation.  It was no longer possible to send German Sisters to America on a regular basis, as it had been previously.  It was not until 1920 that another group was sent.  Communication with Provincial Leadership and with the convents in America was often only possible via a neutral country or through trusted persons who were traveling there.  One tried to keep up contact as best one could.  When the USA entered the war in 1917, there was no longer any direct postal contact with North America.  In vain did the Sisters attempt to send food supplies to Germany via neutral ships.  A year after the end of the war, in August 1919, they began new shipments.  At the beginning of November the first precious packages reached Paderborn.  Many others were sent during the following years.  The Chronicles recorded these with deep gratitude.  Many poor people could be helped with these supplies.  The Superiors in the American Province also repeatedly helped with considerable sums of money.
. . .

The news of the completion and dedication of the new Province Motherhouse in Wilmette was the last direct communication to the Generalate in Paderborn from an overseas Province until the end of the First World War.  The Sisters found the limitations placed on travel and mail service, which presented a major obstacle to communication with Community Leadership, very painful.  This fact is repeatedly mentioned in the Chronicles from 1914-1917.  Contact with America was completely cut off for a long time or was possible only occasionally when sent via a neutral country.  So much the more, did the willingness to help show itself in the form of donations once the war ended, an invaluable aid to the survival of the European Province and many other people in Germany.  How precious every package and every financial help was, could only be understood by the generous donors when the representatives from all the Provinces gathered in Paderborn for the General Chapter in 1920 and experienced the situation firsthand.

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about this excerpt?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lent 2017: The Word is a Gift. Other Persons are a Gift.

Click here to access the Holy Father's message for Lent 2017, in which he uses the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) to express the theme, "The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift."  The conclusion of the message follows:

"Dear friends, Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favour the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter."

Blessed Lent, everyone!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

We continue our reading of Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf (In Response to God's Call), by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC (copyright 2016, Bonifatius), translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC.

The First World War and its Consequences
After 1915, soldiers who had been blinded during the war were brought to the School for the Blind and cared for.  House Nazareth in Höxter, which had been a military orphanage since 1878, became it again in actuality.  After 1914 the orphans of railroad workers were also cared for.  

From the beginning of the war on, the Sisters participated in general war-related activities, e.g., helping at an information center for the missing, which the Bishop had established, knitting socks, sewing clothing and blankets for the soldiers, preparing reading material, packing Christmas packages with what could have been their own Christmas goodies.  The girls in various schools were also encouraged to participate.  Laundry for 12 military hospitals was washed by St. Agnes-Stift.

To guarantee a supply of food in Germany despite the war conditions, so-called "war kitchens" were established, some of which were managed by the Sisters of Christian Charity.  In July 1916, when such a kitchen was opened in Siegburg, 420 liters of bean soup were distributed during the first noon serving.  In time, it was visited by more and more children and also by the women who worked in the munitions factories.  At first, the kitchen at St. Anna House in Paderborn was open only during the winter months, but from 1916 it functioned all year long.  "Two hundred or more hungry children come each day."  For some, this was their only meal in the course of the day.

Austerity was also very evident in the convent: bread was especially lacking and later on, potatoes.  When the Sisters came to the Motherhouse for retreat or vacation, they had to bring their own supply of bread or their bread card.  Some gatherings had to be omitted, because one could not feed the participants.  One could, however, also see the positive side.  The general emergency situation became a "stern teacher of frugality and thriftiness," because there was not only a lack of of food, but also of other basic necessities."

Special sacrifices demanded by the war were the materials needed for weaponry.  In July 1917, organ pipes were taken from the Motherhouse Chapel.  In April 1918, the tower bell, and shortly after, the Messing doorknobs were seized.  A new bell was blessed in July 1921, the gift of the Sisters in North and South America.

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about this excerpt?  Perhaps you could share this with someone today.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf

During this year in which we celebrate the 200th birthday of Pauline von Mallinckrodt, the Sisters of Christian Charity are happy to delve more deeply into the life of their founder and the history of the Congregation.  One of the newest resources is the book published in Germany, Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf  (In Response to God's Call), by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC, using the notes of Sister Gregoris Michels, SCC, former General Superior who died in 2014.  The book -- a history of the Sisters of Christian Charity from 1881 until the present -- was recently made available to the English-speaking Sisters thanks to the translation efforts of Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC, of the North American Eastern Province.  Between now and June 3 (the actual date of Pauline's 200th birthday), we will share portions of this book (Copyright 2016, Bonifatius).

Today's excerpt comes from "The First World War and its Consequences":

"Apostolic activities were able to be carried out almost unhindered both during and after the First World War, but the political and economic situation brought new challenges with it.  The unrest caused by internal politics and the tensions of foreign policy increased before the outbreak of the war, which began in Germany on August 1, 1914. . . . On August 4, Mother Regina LeClaire wrote to the Sisters that 'our active help' was required to 'alleviate the manifold needs, which are the result of war. . . . It is desirable that we meet the challenges that arise as best we can, but approach everything with wisdom and circumspection, because our obligations must also be continued and faithfully fulfilled.  Wherever need arises, we must also assist in the actual care of the wounded and do it as best we can. . . . We must also help the oppressed in so far as our means allow.'   She made St. Joseph House in Paderborn available to be used as a military hospital, and by the end of August the first 40 injured were brought there.  In the Motherhouse, the Sisters completed a course in the care of the wounded.  The episcopal facilities:  Leokonvikt with 200 beds, the Major Seminary with 67 beds and the Minor Seminary with 80 beds were converted into hospitals and our Sisters ministered there.  St. Lorenz-Hospital in Anrath was also used for that purpose.  In April 1915, a large transport arrived bringing critically injured soldiers of various nationalities: French, English, Canadian, Arabic, Turk, Senegalese.  The Chronicles relate many details about life at that time and about the friendly atmosphere that reigned between the wounded and their nurses."

Reflection:  What do you find most interesting about this brief excerpt?  Perhaps you could talk to someone about it today.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Caregiver's Prayer

On this World Day of the Sick, we offer the Caregiver's Prayer, provided by the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

The Caregiver’s Prayer
Compassionate and healing God,
help us to see your face 
in the faces of our sisters and brothers 
who are sick or injured. 
Guide us to reach out to them 
with hearts of compassion 
and hands which serve their needs. 
When they are anxious, 
help us to know how to reassure them. 
When they feel alone, 
help us to notice and be present. 
When they feel confused, 
help us to listen 
and assist in finding answers 
to their concerns. 
When they need comfort, 
help us to communicate 
care and understanding. 
When they are weak or discouraged 
help us find ways 
to refresh their spirits. 
When doubt or darkness touches them, 
give your Light to guide them and lift them up. 
Help us as caregivers to always turn to You 
as the source of our own strength and compassion
as we seek to serve the needs 
of our sisters and brothers 
who are vulnerable.

(Sister Jane McConnell , OSF, BCC; VP, Mission Integration, St. Mary’s Health, Evansville, IN; Ascension Health; Daily We Seek You: Reflections and Prayers for Individuals, Caregivers and Ministry Teams)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

World Day of the Sick

"Amazement at what God has accomplished: 'The almighty has done great things for me,'" is the theme of this year's World Day of the Sick, February 11.  Access the message of Pope Francis for this commemoration here.  Find a prayer for this day here.  See the beautiful video reflection from the Catholic Health Association of the United States below.  (Email subscribers: If you do not see a video embedded below, please click here to view it.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Human Trafficking: What Can We Do?

For the past two days, we have provided resources and prayers for commemorating the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.  Today, on the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, we would like to remind you to review and re-commit to the SCC Congregational Statement against Human Trafficking, available here.

Once you've reviewed the statement and you wonder, "What can I do?" consider one or more of the following action suggestions from the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ:

  • Talk to five other people about human trafficking today.
  • Distribute copies of human trafficking prayers [available here] to your families, friends and co-workers.
  • Check your local supermarket to see if they sell fair trade products like coffee, tea or chocolate and ask the manager about it if they don't.
  • Enter the human trafficking hotline number into your cell phone so that it's ready to use if you notice signs of human trafficking -- 1-888-373-7888.
  • Continue your education on human trafficking by reading the resources available at
  • Talk to your local parish, school and civic organizations.  Encourage them to offer a workshop on human trafficking.
  • Direct people to prayer and reflection resources on human trafficking, such as U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, USCCB, or the Sisters of Charity.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pray for an end to human trafficking

As we commemorate the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on February 8, perhaps we can pray this prayer provided by Catholic Relief Services:

Oh God, we didn't see them,
But you did --
The hundreds and thousands of human beings
Trafficked each year to join the millions who are trapped in modern-day slavery.
Under terrible conditions, they work in factories, plough fields, harvest crops, work quarries, fill brothels, clean homes, and haul water.

Many are children with tiny fingers for weaving rugs
and small shoulders for bearing rifles.
Their labor is forced, their bodies beaten, their faces hidden
from those who don't really want to see them.

But you see them all, God of the poor.
You hear their cry and you answer by
opening our eyes, and breaking our hearts
and loosening our tongues to insist:

No mas.  No more.


Monday, February 6, 2017

February 8: Human Trafficking Prayers and Awareness

As you may know, and as we reminded you in this post last month, the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita (February 8) has been designated as the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.  Many materials and prayer resources are available from the U.S. Sisters Against Human Trafficking (click here).

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Halftime Challenge

As you may know, sex trafficking is often associated with large sporting events.  In preparation for the Super Bowl -- which takes place this Sunday, February 5 -- we are again asked to participate in the Halftime Challenge.  In its attempt to educate the public and spread the message of abolishing modern day slavery, the Halftime Challenge uses social media to spread the word about human trafficking.  Go to the Halftime Challenge website for more information.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service

Happy Catholic Schools Week (January 29-February 4) to everyone involved in Catholic education throughout the country.  This year's theme is:  Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.

We send special prayers to all Sisters of Christian Charity who minister in education, their colleagues and students.  (Click here to see a listing of the schools and colleges where SCCs from the Eastern Province minister.)  

To learn more about Catholic Schools Week, visit the website of the National Catholic Education Association.  

9 Days for Life: Day 9

Today, on day 9 of "9 Days for Life," we pray for God's peace to fill the hearts of all who travel the path of adoption.  Click here for today's reflections from the USCCB.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 8

On day 8 of "9 Days for Life," we pray for an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.  Click here for today's reflections from the USCCB.

Friday, January 27, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 7

Today, on day 7 of "9 Days for Life," we pray that those who long for a child of their own may be filled with trust in God's loving plan.  Click here for today's reflections from the USCCB.

We remember, too, that today is the annual March for Life.  Let us pray for the safety of all "marchers."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 6

Click here for day 6 of "9 Days for Life," in which we pray that those affected by pornography experience God's mercy and healing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 5

Click here for day 5 of "9 Days for Life," in which we pray for an end to domestic violence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 4

On day 4 of "9 Days for Life," we pray that those near the end of their lives may receive medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives.  Click here for today's reflection.

Monday, January 23, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 3

On day 3 of "9 Days for Life," we pray that all people may embrace the truth that every life is a good and perfect gift, and is worth living.  Click here for today's prayer, reflection and action suggestions.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 2

Today, on day two of "9 Days for Life," we pray that each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion may find hope and healing in Christ.  Click here for today's suggestions for prayer, reflection and action.

(Reminder:  Because January 22 occurs on a Sunday this year, the "Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children" is observed on Monday, January 23.)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

9 Days for Life: Day 1

Today, on day one of "9 Days for Life," we pray for the conversion of all hearts and an end to abortion.  Click here for today's suggestions for prayer, reflection and action.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) is "Reconciliation -- The Love of Christ Compels Us."  Click here for prayer resources and other information about this observance.

Monday, January 16, 2017

"Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment"

Click here to access the Holy Father's letter to young people introducing the October 2018 Synod of Bishops to treat the topic "Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment."  The preparatory document introduced in the letter is available here.  Both were released on Friday, January 13.  Stay tuned for more information as the preparations continue.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reminder: 9 Days for Life

Click here to access the USCCB resources for "9 Days for Life" -- an annual period of prayer and action focusing on cherishing the gift of every person's life -- taking place this year from January 21-29.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  Click here for prayer resources from U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  Included in these resources is a calendar that runs from January 11 through February 8, containing a prayer and intentions for each day.  (Remember that February 8, the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, is also the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.)

National Migration Week 2017

The theme for National Migration Week 2017 (January 8-14)  is "Creating a Culture of Encounter."  Click here for more information from the USCCB website.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poverty Awareness and the Three Kings

As we shared earlier this week, January is Poverty Awareness Month.  Today's entry from the USCCB calendar to commemorate this month follows:

In the spirit of the three wise men, how do you offer your gifts to help bring forth God's kingdom on earth?  Green Street Park and Drop by Drop are children's books about young people using their gifts to help others.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

What is Human Trafficking?

Sometimes we have discussed a subject so frequently, that we forget that new people have joined the conversation or that the language we are using is understood differently by different people.  So, during this month's National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we are going "back to the basics."  Today, we attempt to answer the question, "What is human trafficking?"  Please click here to find a very informative brochure the defines human trafficking and offers so much more.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Poverty Awareness Month

January is Poverty Awareness Month.  Find more information -- including a calendar with daily reflections/suggestions -- on the USCCB website.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The January 2017 issue of Stop Trafficking -- exploring the growing victimization of women and children in the sex trade throughout North America -- is available here.

Remember, too, that January is "National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month."  Resources for the month are available here.