From August 2 to 16, our Superior General Sr. Izabela Świerad SAC and our Vicar General Sr. Josephina D'Souza SAC came to Germany for the visitation. Most of the time they spent in Limburg. During the weekend of August 7-8, they visited the Sisters in Refrath.
In Limburg, where since 1895 our Congregation developed as an independent branch of the Pallottine Sisters' congregation, there was the Motherhouse of the congregation for many years. Marienborn Convent had been built by the Sisters in 1900/1901 as a house of formation and at the headquarters of the international congregation. From here Pallottine Sisters travelled to England and Poland, to America and Africa. When in 1968 the Generalate was transferred to Rome and provinces were created within the congregation, Marienborn became the Provincial House of the German Province. Much has changed here in recent years. We had to close the retreat house. The old building was in urgent need of renovation, but we could not afford to do this because of all the fire and historic preservation regulations. On the other hand, the home for the elderly, which had been opened in 2001, needed an extension. So finally the old buildings of Marienborn Convent and the Retreat House had been sold, while at the back of the house two extensions were built: an extension of House Felizitas, which could be occupied in October 2019, and House Camaldoli, as the seat of the Provincial Administration and residence of the sisters, where we moved in at the beginning of 2020 – just before the lockdown due to the Corona regulations began. Thus, today there are three living quarters for the Pallottine Sisters in Limburg, all together forming the community "Marienborn Convent": in House Felizitas, in House Camaldoli and in Pallotti House on Westerwald Street. It was a challenge for us to find new forms of being together and living community under the new living conditions, especially since encounters were limited due to the Corona regulations.
In the morning of August 2, our Provincial Superior Sr. Astrid Meinert picked up Sr. Izabela and Sr. Josephina at the airport in Frankfurt. In the afternoon we began the visitation with a common prayer of the community at Limburg in the Provincial House Chapel. Then it was possible for all the sisters to personally greet the two guests. After a meeting with the provincial leadership on Tuesday morning, the following days were spent meeting with all the sisters in Limburg. They were happy that the Superior General and her Vicar took so much time to meet and talk with each one.
In between, there were other appointments that the Superior General and her Vicar had in Limburg. During a tour of House Felizitas, the structure and internal organization of the house was presented. Then there was a meeting with our executive director and another with the board members of the St. Vincent Pallotti Foundation. They are all committed to our community and to the needs of the Foundation and are a valuable support in living our apostolate.
On Friday it was possible to attend the funeral of Pallottine Father Hubert Socha. As a canon lawyer, he had been instrumental in the drafting of the UAC General Statute and in the process of approving the Pallottine original charism and the Union of the Catholic Apostolate. As canonical advisor to the UAC, the sisters from the General Government had met him at many international meetings in Rome.
On Saturday morning, the two Visitors went to Refrath to see the situation of the sisters there and to meet everyone personally. St. Josefshaus, a home for the elderly, which – like House Felizitas in Limburg – is run by the St. Vincent Pallotti Foundation, has also undergone some changes in recent years that the two sisters from Rome had not yet seen. The residential area that the Pallottine Sisters have in the house had also undergone a thorough renovation in 2016. Sr. Izabela and Sr. Josephina were pleased with the beautiful, successful design of the rooms. And they encouraged the sisters to use all their potential according to their own possibilities in the apostolate. On Sunday evening they returned to Limburg.
Also in the second week, in addition to the personal talks that continued, there were some special appointments. On Tuesday afternoon Sr. Izabela gave a richly illustrated overview of the present worldwide situation of the congregation and the many encounters that have taken place in recent decades with the "other Pallottine Sisters," the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate (CSAC). Two of them work as nurses at House Felizitas in Limburg. They also live in Pallotti House and in the evening they invited Sr. Izabela and Sr. Josephina for dinner and meeting.
On Wednesday, the diocese of Limburg celebrated the feast of the consecration of the Cathedral. On this occasion, our two Sisters from Rome were able to participate in the evening Pontifical High Mass. On Thursday morning, a visit to the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers in Limburg was on the agenda. Since their foundation in Limburg more than 125 years ago, the two houses have been closely connected. Today, as members of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate, we know that together we are in the journey. So we were happy about the invitation of the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers for a meeting and lunch, which was extended to the two members of our General Administration and the entire provincial leadership. Also, a visit to the memorial of Pallottine Fr. Richard Henkes, beatified in 2019, in St Mary's Church was possible.
The weekend of August 14-15 was dedicated to celebrations. On Saturday we celebrated the golden, diamond, iron and grace jubilees of ten sisters. For morning prayer we met altogether in the Provincial House Chapel, during which Sr. Astrid gave an insight into the eventful life stories of the jubilarians. In the late afternoon, almost all the Sisters from Germany were able to take part in the Pontifical High Mass. Auxiliary Bishop Dr Thomas Loehr, Episcopal Vicar for Religious Orders in the Diocese of Limburg, celebrated with us this vigil mass of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, on which many of our Sisters took their vows. An ensemble of eight singers of the cathedral choir provided the music and let all hearts swing into joyful rejoicing and thanksgiving before God. Afterwards, the Jubilarians, and our Guest from Rome and the Provincial Council met with the Bishop for dinner.
On Sunday evening we concluded the visitation with a common Vespers in the Provincial House Chapel. Sr. Izabela thanked for all the encounters and addressed words of encouragement to all the Sisters. On Monday the plane brought them back to Rome. The visitation was a time of personal encounter, encouragement, and strength for us. We thank Sr. Izabela and Sr. Josephina for all the time and patience with which they turned to us, and for the perseverance with which they kept a sympathetic ear for everyone. From the bottom of our hearts, we look forward to meeting again.
Sr. Adelheid Scheloske SAC