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.

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