Caring for the poor and vulnerable in Germany is just one of the many ways that Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates try to be a healing presence today.
Medical Mission Sisters have been in mission in Germany for over 50 years. A vibrant group, with half their members below age 50, our Sisters in Germany serve in Berlin, Bottrop, Essen and Frankfurt as doctors, pastoral counselors, hospital chaplains, social workers, theologians, and therapists. They are joined in mission by committed Associate members who together with them minister to the sick and dying, elderly persons, children, the homeless, those with disabilities, women who are trafficked and imprisoned, recovering addicts, and people who are seeking a deeper spirituality in their lives. They also participate in many activities that promote peace, social justice, and interreligious dialogue.
Living in an economically deprived area of the eastern sector of Berlin, our Sisters come face-to-face with signs of growing poverty and need. Working with those with disabilities, Sister Monika Ballani is the head of the pastoral care department for disabled persons in the Archdiocese of Berlin. With a similar ministry focus, Sister Thekla Schonfeld teaches at a school for children with special needs. Helping those in precarious living situations, poverty or other crises, Sisters Michaela Banks and Angelika Kollacks run a women’s counseling center. These Sisters also share their healing presence with those with addiction problems and with those who are former victims or victimizers of concentration camps now looking for inner peace.
In Bottrop, both Medical Mission Sisters and Associates accompany and support people who are acutely or chronically ill, are suffering from chronic pain, are dying, grieving or have other needs for counseling or pastoral care. To help women and men cope with the growing isolation felt in elderly households, our Sisters and Associates in Bottrop try to create a culture of care in the local parishes and communities by establishing groups of volunteers to visit sick and housebound people and by supporting volunteers of the local hospice group.
Our Sisters in Essen also give special attention to the needs of the elderly. In this, they encounter real poverty in material, mental, and emotional resources. Theirs is a unique contribution, as they explore the realities of aging and how best to help others respect the dignity of people in their elder years.
When she moved to the Essen community, Sister Maria Hohenadl took on the role of counselor and case manager in a Catholic care organization. Part of this position consists of visiting elderly and homebound people, eliciting their needs and finding ways to meet them. As a member of several parish communities, Sister Mechthild Driesch continues to try to make the Church present in people’s lives. She helped start a home visiting service for those needing care composed of fellow parishioners.
Medical Mission Sisters in Frankfurt live their mission of healing presence through the medical and psychotherapeutic care of those who are homeless, addicted to substances, and victims of violence. They also accompany people searching for God and meaningful spirituality in their lives.
At the Center for Spirituality in Frankfurt, our Sisters work together with a Franciscan priest and explore creative ways to express and share faith and deepen spiritual life. A local community of our Sisters, right next to the meditation center, supports their many programs and efforts.
Medical Mission Sisters and Associates throughout Germany come together often for prayer, liturgy and focused reflective sessions in which they share their experiences in mission. They also are very involved in sharing their life and work with interested women in “Come and See” weekends and in the on-going Integration of new Canonical and Associate members of the Community.
January 15, 2013