Forty eight participants from the “Steyl Family” comprised of Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS), Sister-Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (SSPSAP), the Divine Word Missionaries and the Friends and Partners of Steyl (SFP, lay associate) gathered once again at the SSpS Covent for the Steyl Family Gathering from 23 to 25 of March 2018. It was an opportunity for the four families to come together and celebrate as members of the same family.
During the three days, they discussed and heard about the changes within the Steyl Family in Steyl and in the world. Above all, they were encouraged in the common vocation of baptism and mission, since everyone brought along very concrete experiences of the various missionary challenges. Xavier Alangaram, SVD, the Mission Procure director of Saint Augustin in Germany shared with the group his life experience in India and Germany.
The climax on Saturday was the “procession in remembrance of the passion of the Lord” in which some guests who arrived had for the occasion as well as Sisters, Brothers, Fathers from the convents in Steyl and the vicinity participated. More or less 150 people moved through Steyl, called the “convent village”, some praying, singing while others in silence. The point of departure was the side chapel of the Sacred Heart Convent (SSpS) where there are the tombs of Blessed Helena Stollenwerk and Hendrina Stenmanns.
Sr. Mechtilde Berger SSpS, in a brief reflection, showed how, with trust in God the two co-foundresses of the Steyl Missionary Sisters faced crosses and sufferings in their own lives and at the beginning of the Congregation. Some of their sayings were read out by the participants as an encouragement to persevere in difficulties like Blessed Helena and Hendrina. After the words of Sr. Mechtilde, the group moved to the Covent of the Holy Spirit Sisters, where the sisters were waiting in the chapel.
In common prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, the Adoration Sisters together with the pilgrims recalled the Last Supper. In spite of the grill of the cloister, the common unity could be sensed. After leaving the Adoration Sisters house, the procession continued on its way through the Steyl convent gardens, with the sun shining and a light wind blowing. While praying the rosary, the pilgrims in a fraternal and caring gesture repeatedly passed on the light whenever the wind had blown it out. The procession stopped briefly at Calvary scene with the Cross before reaching its goal in the lower church of St. Michael’s. Beneath the cross of the resurrection was the painting entitled “God becoming human and suffering”. It was painted by Br. Othmar Jessberger SVD, who worked in Indonesia for many years. In a reflection on this painting, Fr. Rudiger Brunner SVD referred to the deep question of God and suffering. He said, “suffering does not exist in spite of the coming of God, but God came because suffering exists.”
Subsequently, at the tomb of St. Arnold, the four candles (Missionary Priests and Brothers, Missionary Sisters, Adoration Sisters, Friends and Partners) were lighted. Here, near the father of the Steyl Family, all those present received a blessing for their Christian life, in whatever form they may be living it. On Palm Sunday the women and men of Steyl moved together even more closely and celebrated the liturgy which contributed further moments of experience to the overall theme of “procession in remembrance of the passion of the Lord.” Part of this were the cordial and personal greetings addressed to the gathered Steyl Family by Fr, Martin Ueffing, SVD, provincial superior.
A lively evaluation already brought to light new ideas for the next gathering of the Steyl Family on the weekend of Palm Sunday 2019. By doing we learn best what a beautiful mission is entrusted to us members of the Steyl Family.
By: Michaela Leifgen, SSpS, Rudiger Brunner SVD
Some pictures of the day
Main chapel Steyl (SVD)
SSpS sisters house
Adoration Sisters chapel