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.