The Chapter closes…our story continues

The capitulars have journeyed together during the 14th General Chapter of the SSpS here in Steyl—the significant place where our Founding Generation had been drawn to fulfil their dream—that “the Holy Triune God live in our hearts and in the hearts of all people”.  This dream flowed strongly in the stories of SSpS in the entire Congregation during this Chapter.

As Capitulars, we came together to share our stories and good news and to listen to the stories of our Founding Generation in order to be more in touch with the roots of our Spirituality and Charism.  We have journeyed together with Mother Theresia Messner SSpS the patron of our 14th General Chapter. All the stories bind us into communion with God, with our sisters in the whole Congregation, with the poor, the marginalized, our lay partners, collaborators, other believers and with creation.

We really experienced God’s blessings through the Spirit who faithfully accompanied and guided us during this General Chapter. We experienced the Spirit leading us in our common discernment processes on the elections of our Congregational Leadership Team and on the Congregational Directions for 2014 – 2020.

In our journey we have stopped and stepped back to reflect on our mission, to evaluate and to discern where God wants us to go.  We have been nourished by the Word of God and by the sharing of our faith experiences.  With grateful hearts we praise the Holy Triune God for the abundant blessings we have received. We thank God for the present CLT for their loving care, guidance, sacrifices, and joyful service in our common mission during the past six years. We felt how the Spirit was leading our Congregation through them in these years.

We also praise God for the new CLT, whom God has chosen to be our companion, to journey with us, sharing good news with all, and making our stories fruitful for all.

Now our mission starts anew. In the strength of the Holy Spirit we commit ourselves to continue to tell our stories, to bring the Good News with joyful hearts, and to echo our Directions in our mission. We are on the way and Jesus is Our Way. With joyful hearts we praise and give thanks to our God.

Official Closing (in the Chapter Hall)

The Capitulars voted unanimously to close the Chapter.


“Thank You” to the Service Group


“Thank You” to the CLT


Gifts from Fr. Jürgen Ommerborn SVD

–a DVD containing posters of the Founding Generation and materials on Mother Theresia Messner


Picking a “Prayer Partner”



Closing Eucharist

Mass Presider:  Cardinal João Braz de Aviz  (Prefect of Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life – Vatican)


Dialogue with Cardinal João Braz de Aviz

Flashback Video



“The Spirit will guide you into all the Truth”: The Last Days of the Chapter

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

(Jn 16:12-15)

The Chapter enters the last days of communal discernment on the Congregational Directions for the next 6 years (2014-2020) and Proposals to the 14th General Chapter.  The Capitulars remained open and sensitive to the movements and inspiration of the Holy Spirit as they engage, for the last time, in deeper reflection and discussion.  At this stage, the Chapter is ready to make important decisions for the Congregation.

The Echoing Commission submitted to the Chapter Body a guide on how the Capitulars will echo the General Chapter to the Sisters in their respective Provinces/Regions.

Our hearts sing out in GRATITUDE!

SSpS 125 Years Jubilee Celebration


Welcome to the Guests


Jubilee Celebration


Goodbye to the Guests





Mary, pray for us…

This day opened with the celebration of the feast of the Blessed Mother (Mary Help of Christians) in the Holy Eucharist, imploring her intercession for the Chapter and for Christians all over the world, especially those who are extremely challenged to express their faith in freedom.  We also prayed for the unstable situation in Ukraine and for their national elections.

The Chapter continued the process of communal discernment on the Proposals.  Later in the day, there were discussions in groups on topics of special interest—formation, inculturality and migration/refugees.   In the evening, there was a sharing about MaZ (Missionare auf Zeit-missionaries for a time) for interested Capitulars.



I shall no longer call you servants; I call you friends

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  I do not call you servants  any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you.”

Inspired by the Word of God the Chapter continued in the communal discernments on Congregational Directions and Proposals to the 14th General Chapter.

There was greater clarity after presentations, reflections and more clarifications were made on the Proposals.

Deeper conversations regarding the third draft of the Congregational Directions were done, this time, in the language groups.  The Capitulars joined those speaking the same mother tongue.



“I AM THE VINE, YOU ARE THE BRANCHES”: The New Congregational Leadership Team

From left to right:  Sr. Miriam, Maria Angelika Altenhofen (D),                   Sr. Margaret, Margaret Leslie Hansen (US), Sr. María Cristina Ávalos (Ar), Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann (D-Congregational Leader),         Sr. Mikaelin, Emiliana Bupu (Indo), Sr. Eleonora Cichon (Po),                  Sr. Mary John Kudiyiruppil (In)

Mother Josepha: Take a courageous step…

On the Feast Day of Mother Josepha, from the Gospel we hear Jesus say to his disciples:  “Peace be with you… Do not be troubled; do not be afraid…”

Similar sentiments of Jesus—his loving care and understanding towards his disciples—are found in M. Josepha’s letter to the Sisters in Argentina:  “The Good Lord knows what is best for us his creatures.  Therefore, place your whole trust in him, especially in difficult moments.”

On her feast, the Capitulars implored M. Josepha to journey with and intercede for them as the Chapter continues with the communal discernment on the elections of General Councillors and on the Congregational Directions.



“This is our home”—The Word of God and the Chapter Experience

“If you love me, you will keep my word and my Father will love you and we shall come to you and make our home with you…” “… the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything …”

The faith sharing today was guided by the following questions:

  • When have I felt that the Triune God has made “God’s home” in this Chapter?
  • What has the Holy Spirit “taught me” during this process of communal discernment?


Remembering and sharing one’s God experience in the past days, the communal discernment for the election of General Councillors began, while clarifications on some of the Proposals to the Chapter continued.


In the afternoon many of the capitulars joined the St. Michael SVD Community in the Requiem Mass for Fr. Paul Krings SVD.



Keeping the memories alive: A Pilgrimage

KEVELAER — Pilgrimage place of the Founding Generation

Kevelaer is the famous pilgrimage place in West Germany. There is a small miraculous image of the Blessed Mother—“Our Lady of Consoler of the afflicted”—venerated for more than 350 years.

Kevelaer was an important place for our founding generation: Arnold Janssen, M. Maria and M. Josepha. The hometowns of Fr. Arnold and M. Josepha are close to Kevelaer.

Arnold Janssen decided here, after his secondary school education, to become a priest.

For M. Josepha, Kevelaer is a ‘spiritual home’—a place where she is completely at home.

We know from M. Maria that her mother consecrated her to our Blessed Mother in Kevelaer before she was born. In Kevelaer she prayed with all her strength for her vocation.

Therefore, we Steyler until today go in pilgrimage to Kevelaer in gratitude for the vocation of our Founding Generation and pray for perservance for all of us in our calling as religious-missionaries.



GOCH – The Birthplace of Arnold Janssen

*The Birthplace

Frauenstr 8, belonging to the SVD, is now a memorial place/museum with some pieces of furniture from the time of Arnold Janssen.  It was totally destroyed during the war,  but later rebuilt according to the original structure.

*Mary Magdalene Church

Here, Arnold Janssen was baptized, he ministered during the Holy Mass as altar boy, and received his First Holy Communion.

*The Arnold Janssen Church

This Church was planned after the Beatification of Arnold Janssen in 1975.   It was built with modern design—“the tent of God” among his people.   SVDs live and work here. When this new Church was consecrated in 1984, the Mother Church–Mary Magdalene Church– gave as a gift the baptismal font on which Arnold Janssen was baptised.


ISSUM – the home place of M. Josepha Stenmanns

*The parental home

(M. Josepha was not born here. This house belongs to her great grandnephew.)

Here in Issum, after the death of her mother, besides taking care of the family, housework and the weaving, M. Josepha also took care of the poor, the sick and the dying. She was the great benefactress of her home community, and Issum will never ever forget her. The bronze plate next to the door of the house is a reminder of this fact.

 *St. Nicholas Church – the parish church of M. Josepha

Here is the baptismal font on which M. Josepha was baptised second day after her birth. In this church M. Josepha attended Holy Mass daily. With the reliquary beside the baptismal font, M. Josepha, so to say, has returned to her parish church.



“Because we love God…we are who we are and we do what we do”

The Chapter session opened with a symbolic gesture of “stepping in” to the day followed by faith sharing on the Gospel accompanied by the song “Because we love God” (by Kathy Sherman CSJ). Inspired and strengthened by the Word of God, the Capitulars began dealing with the Proposals to the 14th General Chapter.

After reviewing the resolutions and recommendations of the 13th General Chapter, the proposals to the 14th General Chapter were formally presented to the plenum. The Capitulars then went to their respective continental group for dialogue and discussion. Each group came up with their leanings on each proposal, which were presented later in the plenum.

“Stepping out” of the day, the Capitulars recalled the ‘one thing of value’ from the day.










The Spirit goes with you…goodbye for now…until we meet again…


The four invited observers—two lay mission partners (Ms. Myrna and Ms. Adriana) and two SVDs (Fr. Daisuke and Fr. Stanislaus)—gave their final message by sharing their experiences and observations.

For the first time in the history of the SSpS, observers were invited in the General Chapter.  After three weeks of actively participating in the different Chapter processes (except election), they expressed their gratitude for the Sisters’ openness to welcome them in their midst. They appreciated the atmosphere of communion and honesty among the Capitulars and the Chapter proceedings as a whole, especially storytelling. Besides the words of appreciation the two SVDs gave some valuable observations and suggestions that would be helpful for the ongoing direction setting.

All of them expressed how they have been enriched not only by their experiences in the Chapter, but by intercultural community living as well. Sr. Maria Theresia, the Congregational Leader, and all the Capitulars are deeply grateful for their presence and contribution.

We are truly blessed to have them with us!



Sharing with you our Good News: Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann SSpS is elected Congregational Leader for the term 2014-2020





Where the energy is moving: the second draft of the Congregational Directions and the final stage of discernment on the election of Congregational Leader

The Chapter Direction Writing Committee presented to the Capitulars the second draft of the Congregational Directions.  Communion was seen as the main thread running through.  Personal reading and reflection followed.  To help focus the reflection, the following questions were offered: 

  • What do I see from the perspective of communion that is new for this time?
  • From the lens of communion what is the good news and where is the energy moving?

In the plenum the capitulars shared some of the fruits of their personal reflection.


Discernment for the election of Congregational Leader enters the final stage.



Preparing the Heart for Discernment

The discernment on congregational direction and leadership continues…


communal discernmentThe day began with faith sharing on the Word of God in John 15:9-17, flowing into a reflection on Some Essential Threads of Communal Discernment:

            • It is deeply spiritual
            • All have a voice in the process
            • It is peaceful, respectful, but not necessarily easy
            • It is transparent
            • It unites rather than divides




In the plenum, as the election process on leadership goes deeper, Sr. Rosemary invited the Capitulars to spend some time to look at the concept of leadership and some qualities of a leader.   She illustrated on the board the Dimensions of Leadership.



The letters CMS are at the center of the circle, which stand for Charism, Mission, and Spirituality.    At the heart of leadership and in the heart of a leader there needs to be a fire for the Charism, a fire and passion for the Mission and a deep Spirituality that belong uniquely to the Congregation.

From the heart of leadership there are four dimensions to look at:

      • Skills with trust that the leader is doing God’s work
      • to relate in different levels
      • to inspire 
      • to administer


The Capitulars spent some time for personal reflection and sharing on the qualities and the kind of leadership needed at this time in the Congregation.



A jumpstart on the Congregational Directions: The first draft


The third week of the General Chapter opened with the Chapter Direction Writing Committee presenting to the Chapter body the first draft of the Congregational Directions. The Committee had been closely listening to the voice of the Spirit speaking through the Capitulars as they shared their reflections and insights on the stories, inputs, and processes of the past two weeks.

The Capitulars worked on the draft, first in small groups and later in the plenum, guided by the following:

  • Three or four elements that hold the deepest passion for SSpS today
  • Questions or issues that the capitulars need to explore more in-depth
  • Missing important elements in the first draft

The discussion closed with the Capitulars praying over the four members of the Direction Writing Committee, asking the guidance and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, as they take the next steps in revising the first draft of the Congregational Directions.  The same intention was brought to the Eucharistic celebration at the end of the day.


Side by side with direction-setting, discernment for the election of the new congregational leadership team continued.



Integration Day: We unfold our story anew… glancing back and yet looking forward

“Jesus came to Nazareth and entered the synagogue on the Sabbath as he usually did.  They handed him the book of the prophet Isaiah.  Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written…”


The Capitulars spent the day in silence recalling the past two weeks of the Chapter and reflecting on:  what has been new for them, the challenges they found, some obstacles or hindrances for them to enter fully in the chapter process, moments they felt most open, and the graces of these days.

In their own creative way, they began writing the story of the 14th General Chapter as they have experienced it.

Group sharing ended with the members addressing the question:  “Where is the Spirit leading us?



Paradigm Shift in Religious Life Today


Sr. M. Beatrix Mayrhofer SSND, whose roots were nurtured in the SVD parish of the Sacred Heart in Wels, Austria, made her presentation in a storytelling manner.  It was indeed, a very personal sharing.

As a child she was familiar with the mission magazine “Missionsgüße” (greetings from the missions) published by the SVDs.  She pointed out the significant shifts in religious life using this magazine (issue no.3 of 1960) and our 1984 Constitutions.

During the Second Vatican Council the whole Church underwent a massive paradigm shift, when it began to respond in a new way to the times and to the changes occurring in society and the world at large. This process involved an unprecedented reworking of the Church’s understanding of itself and of its language. In our own Congregation, in an attempt to adapt our way of religious life to the times, a ‘reworking’ took place with the Constitutions of 1984.

Weaving threads from the words of the Prologue of our Constitutions, and highlighting changing world realities, Sr. M. Beatrix discussed four areas of paradigm shift significant for us as religious, under the headings: the concept of God, the theology of creation, the position of women, and religions.

The first shift noted the change in the notion of God, in a world in which for many people the existence of God can no longer be taken for granted. With the question of God, comes the question of creation and our changing connection with nature (second shift).  As SSpS, the destruction of the world’s ecology connects strongly with the situation of the world’s poor, and has implications on our service to them.

The third paradigm shift is occurring in the understanding of the role and position of women in the Church and the world. Widespread abuse and violation of women’s rights challenge us to take a stand for the promotion and empowerment of women in all areas.

Finally, the question of other religions and in particular the Church’s encounter with Islam calls for new ways of conducting interreligious dialogue and cultural co-operation.

The innermost heart of our religious life calls for personal experience of and relationship with God: “God alone can fill your heart” (Mother Maria).  For us as missionaries, conversion of heart is the paradigm shift that enables us to go out to our mission areas and live what our Constitutions encourage us to do.

Personal reflection followed the input.  Sr. M. Beatrix invited the Capitulars to be in the presence of the Triune God and be aware of the paradigm shifts taking place in their own hearts.

Sharing in the groups and a colourful and creative presentation in the plenum, on what is burning in the hearts of the Capitulars and important for our future directions, took place in the afternoon.



Mission is the work of the Holy Spirit

New Global and Ecclesial Trends and their Impact on Mission Today

Fr. José Cristo Rey Garcia Paredes CMF, our resource person, developed the theme in three stages:

  1. New trends in the theology of mission
  2. New global trends in our world and their impact on mission today
  3. New ecclesial trends and their impact on mission today

Throughout his talk he stressed that mission is the work of the Holy Spirit who is the agent and first principle of mission. He used the expression “accomplices of the Spirit” or a “speaker of the Word” to describe the vital link that exists between the Holy Spirit and mission. The Spirit needs us!

There is no greater dignity for a human being than that of being an accomplice of the Spirit. For someone to be chosen to enter the flow of the Creator and re-creator Spirit, that someone be designated as speaker of the divine Word, exceeds any dream or aspiration. This is the identity of those of us who have felt the call, of those of us who have been invested and consecrated with the missionary vocation. This is the vocation of the SSpS.

A congregation is not shaping or defining mission, he said, rather mission is shaping and defining congregations. The mission is not in crisis; those who are in crisis are those who are disconnected from the Spirit, the structures and institutions that have closed themselves off from the authentic mission to become mere employees, work organizations of administration. The solution comes from paying attention to persons in our world with the gift of vision; they may not always belong to our circle but through them the Spirit illumines our vocation.

Explaining the new global trends in our world and their impact on mission, and taking examples from the scientific and technological world of discoveries, the speaker said that the rapidly changing social scene is pushing the Church and mission to a point of no return. He said that a new consciousness is awakening through the fusion of two paradoxical movements that we are witnessing: one, a movement towards correlation where our common humanity is celebrated and upheld and the other, a movement towards “the different” where persons and groups defend and promote their identity and uniqueness.

He spoke of the progressive expansion of human consciousness throughout its immense evolutionary journey. We have passed from tribal identity, belonging to a national state/transnational/continental identity and belonging to groups, peoples, nations, to reach the planetary identity. We are reaching the planetary expansion of consciousness… a new vision in which humans, animals and the environment, that is the total ecology of the planet, are integrated. We are human beings gifted with hospitality, compassion, sociable reason, wisdom, humanity, and unlimited potential in large part still unrealized.

Speaking of new ecclesial trends and their impact on mission today, Fr. José enumerated three traditional mission areas—education, health care and missionary witness—and showed how these conventional fields of apostolate can be made relevant today with renewed vigour and commitment.

Mission as witness brings us face to face with the fundamental call to discipleship. Some of the paradigm shifts in mission, he said, would require structural change while others call for attitudinal conversion. He concluded his talk by inviting the Sisters to re-read the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” with the concrete objective of making possible in religious life a series of “pastoral conversions”.



At the service of LIFE: Social Justice awareness of our Founding Generation


It is our Congregation’s commitment to make justice, peace and integrity of creation (JPIC) a way of life for every SSpS in the world. According to Fr. Jürgen Ommerborn SVD, our resource person, although our Founding Generation did not know these words—JPIC—nevertheless, in making this commitment a reality, we can draw inspiration from the words they left us, which he quoted so often throughout his presentation.

Justice is right relationships between people, between people and creation, between people and God. These three relationships formed the structure of Fr. Jürgen’s sharing, inspired by the motto: “May the Holy Triune God live in our hearts and in the hearts of all people.” Fr. Albert Rohner who studied thoroughly this motto pointed out that Fr. Arnold did not say: May the Holy Triune God dwell in our hearts, but live in our hearts. His wish is that the Triune God who dwells in us is alive in us; that we respond to the Trinity’s love with our love.


JUSTICE as right relationships with God and with one another:

The words of our Founding Generation about justice as right relationships with God and with one another challenge us. For us, the spiritual daughters and sons of Fr. Arnold and the heirs of our Founding Generation, Justice(PIC) is to be a way of life rooted in our Trinitarian Spirituality; or, Justice(PIC) is a result of the Holy Triune God living in our hearts. The Holy Triune God wants to be active within us, God wants to transform our hearts into hearts full of love for God and our fellow human beings. And the words of our founding generation can assist us in living up to that challenge showing us how we can let the Holy Triune God be active in our hearts.

Once our hearts have been transformed, we can go about transforming the world, that means helping people to let the Holy Triune God live in their hearts as well.



“If you want peace, work for justice” (Pope Paul VI). However, it is a very special kind of justice; it is God’s justice and that justice is always connected with love, mercy and forgiveness. Only that kind of justice will bring peace.

Pray God to let our planet at long last become the Planet of Peace. And sing in unison with all humanity: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” (Robert Murray)


Integrity of Creation:

Notes taken by Margareta Messner from the retreat talks before the investiture of the first SSpS novices…

Every being is created for the place where it lives. Some plants blossom in springtime, others in summer or autumn.

For a missionary sister it is a very special task to show from nature that there is a God. Therefore it is very good when you collect for yourselves thoughts from nature. Nature proclaims its God, its creator. Look at the birds, how they find their way back home coming from distant lands and later find their way back there again. O, what great wisdom of God is hidden in all of this!


In conclusion, Fr. Ommerborn said that as SSpS and SVDs we are to be at the service of life and not of death.  JPIC, therefore, cannot be a theory we reflect upon once in a while but it has to be part and parcel of our missionary life.  It has to be a way of life for us.



“Go and do the same”


To deepen the theme of the General Chapter—Empowered by the Spirit, sharing Good News among peoples—and the focus—Jesus’ mission, our mission—Fr. Heinz Kulüke SVD gave two input sessions the whole day:  one on “The Good Samaritan” and the other on “Jesus the Christ – Keeping the Missionary Fervor Alive”.  Individual reflection and group sharing followed each talk.  The first round of reflection and sharing focused on stories where I/we became Samaritan—Where did I/we help? Where did I/we pass by?—while the second was on my/our image of the Lord—past/present/future.  At the end of the day, during the Eucharistic Celebration, the stories were integrated in the penitential rite and the homily.


The Good Samaritan

Coming from his own mission life and experience, Fr. Heinz contextualized in our time the Parable of the Samaritans by narrating incidents in his life of being labeled, attacked, cheated and rejected because of his associations with the poor people. His central message was to be closer to people; not to pass by but take responsibility.  In responding to situations, the question to guide us is:  “If we do not stop what will happen to the wounded man?”   “Go and do likewise” means to show compassion; this is what mission is all about. “Compassion”, according to Meister Eckhart, is another name for God.

He emphasized the importance of collaboration with the laity; of accepting the help of lay people especially as we grow older and fragile.  In becoming good Samaritans, we need Good Samaritans.


Jesus the Christ – Keeping the Missionary Fervor Alive

Fr. Heinz traced the various images of God in the Bible, in Christian tradition, and in other religions.  He warned against the danger of creating God in our own image and likeness.  God cannot be grasped in any form.  Having false images could be a disaster. Beyond these images, we can experience God as compassion and liberation.  Our image of God may change with time and experience, but the central image of God as love will remain. He cited writers, thinkers, theologians, and artists who depicted different images of Jesus in their respective medium of expression. He mentioned St. Augustine and Meister Eckhart, whose works are replete with the image of a God who forgives and embraces human frailty.

Our missionary response is directly related to our God image. Any future change that we are considering on the personal and Congregational levels depends on our image of God.  Our closest image is that of Jesus—Jesus empowered by the Spirit.  The Spirit determines entirely Jesus’ activity.  Sometimes we forget that mission is all about “being Jesus”—to live as He lived, to teach as He taught, and to love as He loved.  Then, Jesus’ mission becomes our mission.

Fr. Heinz assured the Sisters that when God calls us to service, God grants us the necessary grace to accomplish it.



We are a family…and together we have a purpose


When storytelling takes place among members of the family, whenever or wherever it may be, always, it is an experience of “coming home”.   The whole day was such an encounter for the Arnoldus Family.   From different parts of the world, they have come to tell their story—Fr. Heinz Kulüke (SVD Superior General), M. Maria Elisabeth Klein (SSpSAP Superior General), Ms. Myrna Trabajo-Pagsuberon (lay mission partner from the Philippines), and Ms. Adriana Vilaça Gonçalves Santiago Campos (lay mission partner from Brazil).  The following are some insights from their sharing:


Fr. Heinz:

It is not only the poor who need the Church…The Church and religious congregations need the poor in order to find new meaning and to become alive again. In serving those at the margins, we doubtlessly receive more than we give…A life in the service of God cannot be separated from serving people especially dear to Him…All this for His sake…receiving His blessings in return…being sent, making “His Mission our Mission”…


M. Maria Elisabeth:

The Arnoldus Family was, is, and always will be for us a fount of energy, encouragement, inspiration, and enthusiasm for the mission, and joy for our daily life. Our Divine Word Brothers and our Missionary Sisters, with their mission, are in such a way present in our daily life that we cannot imagine our existence as Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration without considering the profound and vital union that exists among us…You are the reason for the existence of our Congregation and of our whole apostolate.


Ms. Myrna:

Infused with a renewed Spirit, the partnership of the lay and the Sisters has become more evident and stronger as we continue to bring the Good News…The peace that comes from responding to God’s call, the joys flowing from His love and the strength that springs from our renewed commitment and partnership sustains us…In our intentional involvement with life…we joyfully go to where the Spirit sends us!


Ms. Adriana:

When we act according to our conscience, without thinking of personal gain or political interest, we turn into members of the army led by the Holy Spirit of God…We are continuing the work of St. Arnold and Mother Josepha, a fruit of a dream of love to the missionary life. As had been learned, I remain with the conviction that victory is certain when we unite for the benefit of one common objective.



Moments of “Contemplative Dialogue” in the Congregational Leadership Team Election Process

05 May, Monday

In “Contemplative Dialogue”, no word is the last word. Rather we savour the space between the words, listening for some inner consonance. In the “Contemplative Dialogue” we can be with God in our differences, allowing those differences not to become a vehicle of separation but a window into many facets of God’s truth.  

(Rose Mary Dougherty)



A day with the flowers

Sunday was a day to relax, to unwind and to get much needed energy from nature.  The Capitulars, together with the service team and some members of the Steyl community, spent the whole day at Keukenhof—a park nurturing varieties of tulips, orchids and chrysanthemums.






Listening to the Spirit in the Week that has been

As the first week of the Chapter comes to an end, the Capitulars are invited to let the various stories and presentations of the reality of the Congregation and the many conversations of week 1 sift through their minds and hearts, to spend some quiet moments to revisit their journal entries, and to be attentive to what surfaces in the silence, especially the message of the Spirit in the Congregation’s story and the graces of 125 years.

The reflection and sharing focused on three questions:

  1. What is it that matters most to you? Why? How does it relate to the theme of this Chapter?
  2. What do you resist most? Why?
  3. What questions stir in your heart?

Initial steps in the election discernment of new Congregational Leadership Team began in continental groups.



The Book: A journey of 125 years preserved in print

The Chapter’s process of storytelling culminated in the launching of the commemorative book: “Empowered by the Spirit, Sharing Good News among Peoples”  published by the General Administration to mark the 125th foundation anniversary of the Congregation and the 14th General Chapter.

From the book’s foreword:

Indeed it is a joyful coincidence that the celebrations of two significant and historic events in the life journey of the Congregation fall in the same year – 2014.

This auspicious twin set of events led the Congregational Leadership Team to turn what they initially thought would be a simple compilation of SSpS Provincial/ Regional stories and congregational statistics for the 14th General Chapter, into an extensive commemorative book marking the 125th foundation anniversary of the Congregation.

This Book preserves in print the Congregation’s story: the life-giving events that shaped our Mission in various parts of the world. The memory lives on forever – to inspire, encourage and breathe forth new life to those who will come after us to carry on The Mission.



Our story continues…The congregational story


 Report of the Congregational Leadership Team

Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann SSpS, Congregational Leader, and her team presented their report under five main headings:

1. Introduction, 2. Memories of the13th General Chapter, 3. Afire with Christ Committed to Life, 4. Our Team Story, and 5. Empowered by the Spirit Sharing Good News among Peoples.

The CLT shared the congregational story of the past six years in the light of three key themes: women disciples centred in God, intercultural communities in mission, living our commitment to life. Each of these three areas was looked at from the perspective of growing experiences, helpful means, and on-going challenges.

The experiences of growth in our Sisters as God-centered women are specifically seen in the areas of faith sharing, vowed life, and on-going formation.

On-going formation and renewal programmes organized at provincial/regional, continental and congregational level, provincial/regional leaders’ assembly and orientation program were considered helpful means in deepening commitment to life as women disciples centred in God.

Developing a healthy relationship with God, oneself, others and all creation, to be attuned to the movements of the Spirit, and living of the evangelical counsels in today’s context are on-going challenges.

Our history and experience as a congregation have shown that to live as intercultural and interconnected communities at the service of God’s mission is both a blessing and a challenge. Because of our internationality there is mutual sharing of personnel and resources. We are slowly learning to name and speak of the intercultural tensions that exist among us. Communities are creating space for intercultural dialogue and for sharing the enrichment that the cultural diversity brings.

To see that the Trinitarian spirituality is the foundation for intercultural living and that our intercultural living gives witness to the Trinitarian life within us continues to be our daily challenge.

As SSpS committed to life, we are called to respond to situations and issues in place where life is most threatened. Our commitment to life finds expression in our commitment for women, solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS, ministry with migrants and human trafficking, empowering indigenous people, care for mother earth, and commitment to peace and reconciliation.    In all these missionary endeavours we network with others recognizing that our strength lies not in increasing numbers but in increasing our solidarity within the congregation and with other persons and groups.

In the Team Story the CLT shared their experiences, learnings and insights from the journey of the team during visits and visitations, within the Arnoldus Family and in the Generalate community. “Trust in the Spirit, in one another, in each sister and in the process” was one of their significant learnings. To prepare sisters for global mission in our intercultural and international reality and to empower the laity and to see them as full partners in mission are some of our on-going challenges.

The report concluded with a note of gratitude to all the Sisters for their constant prayers, trust, support and collaboration during the team’s tenure and with the resolve to respond to the missionary call with even greater commitment and a prayer that this General Chapter help us to own anew “Jesus mission as our mission.” The final wish that we journey on empowered by the Spirit, joyfully sharing the Good News among peoples.


 Report of the Mission Secretary

The Mission Secretariat is entrusted with the service of helping the CLT animate the Congregation in carrying out its mission by fulfilling two intrinsically related functions of mission animation and promotion of justice, peace and integrity of creation (JPIC).

Sr. Carmen Elisa Bandeo, the mission secretary, in her report drew attention to the SSpS understanding of mission of making known the love of God to all people which sees justice, peace and integrity of creation as its integral components. In her report, she traced the evolution of the Mission Secretariat over the years and through the recent general chapters and identified the stages in the progressive development of the understanding of mission which led to the eventual restructuring of the Mission Secretariat.

Important activities taken up were the SSpS International JPIC Seminar in Steyl in October 2012, continental mission animation programmes and VIVAT International Workshops in several countries.

The Mission Secretariat networks and collaborates with MA/JPIC coordinators of the provinces/regions, VIVAT International, SVD mission secretariat, and AJSC.


Report of the Treasurer General

Sr. Litty George Sasthamkunnel, the Treasurer General, presented the Report of 2008-2013 inviting the capitulars to travel with her as she shared how the financial resources of our congregation have helped us in our journey and in our very life and mission since the 13th General Chapter.  It is a journey covering areas of growth, blessings, struggles and learnings.

Our call to live as authentic witnesses necessitates accountability in the management of resources at the provincial/regional levels.

Sr. Litty reminded the capitulars about the recommendation of Pope Francis that wealth should be at the service of the authentic development of the human family. She affirmed that today our Congregation is blessed with sustainable resources. However, we require constant efforts to use them efficiently in missionary services. Financial viability is possible for all when the spirit of generosity and unity goes beyond the walls of one’s province/region and reach to the common mission of the congregation.



We gather to tell our stories


Two days were spent for storytelling on the province/region level.

First day, the Capitulars read, reflected on and shared about the provincial and regional stories.  Of the total 45 stories, each Home Community had five different stories in hand.  Key elements/insights, essential to our SSpS Identity, Spirituality and Charism, emerging from the reflections, were identified.

Each community wrote an SMS text message to the Capitulars and prepared a creative presentation of the reflections, which were brought to the plenum the following day.


Gathering the seeds of wisdom from the Stories

Whole morning of the second day was spent presenting insights and seeds of wisdom gathered from the nine Home Communities. Each community presented creatively and powerfully the context of the stories, the challenges and the SSpS missionary responses.

The following are the SMS text messages received from the 9 Home Communities:

  • Led by the Spirit, Choose Life
  • Sense God’s leading in today’s challenges and take risks
  • Life is precious let us protect it
  • As Servants of the Holy Spirit, we live the Paschal Mystery prophetically through the lens of JPIC
  • Welcome to the evolving Global Consciousness.  Think out of the box. The Spirit blows where she wills.
  • Let go of the structures that are not life-giving. Take time to mourn the loses to receive the New.
  • Dream an intercultural and inter-generational living of multiple colors.
  • Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we transform ourselves and the world – Passion for Mission
  • Nothing should stop us from being where we are needed.
  • Let go of structures, routines, attitudes and mindsets
  • Move out of our comfort zones to meet the challenges of today’s realities.
  • Be transformed – begin with a vision
  • Move from uncertainties and find new ways of being and sharing the Good News among all peoples.


After listening to and internalizing the text messages, the Capitulars were given the opportunity in the afternoon to share to the plenum anything that was burning within—insights, realizations, questions and concerns.  

Some of the points shared:

    • Chapter Energy as a body – Communion
    • Consciousness that we are sent to mission by the Spirit
    • Living healthily our interculturality is a challenge
    • Living our commitment to life through the lens of JPIC
    • As God-centered woman, respond to the challenging and demanding realities, taking risk
    • The power of Storytelling, sharing good news
    • Presentations indicate where the Spirit is calling or leading us
    • Let go of the structures and leave comfort zones…
    • Spirit calls us to personal transformation for mission



Down the road of history, where it all began


The Capitulars went around the Congregation’s historical places in Steyl.  By way of introduction, Sr. Emmie Vas SSpS, chapter facilitator, presented a video about the history of the Congregation.

Fr. Renato Leite Gnatta SVD and Sr. Celestina Tangan SSpS, from the Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center, together with Sr. María Elisabeth Hemkemeir SSpS from the Steyl community, facilitated the guided tour, which started with a Holy Mass at the tomb of Fr. Arnold (lower chapel of the SVD at St. Michael Mission House) and ended with a flower offering at the tomb of Mother Theresia Messner (SSpS cemetery within the Motherhouse compound).  The Capitulars were divided into 4 groups as they made the prayerful journey.





Communal Discernment

Two major tasks of the general chapter are: to set the congregational direction for the next six years and to elect the next Congregational Leadership Team. For these, the chapter body needs to engage in a communal discernment. Sr. Rosemary Howarth SSND, the chapter facilitator, shared about this important process to the capitulars. They need patience as the chapter moves through the process. They need to take time. The chapter has to listen to the Spirit and move within the time that it has.

“As members of a discerning community, we must always seek a balance between what we need or want as individuals and what it needs to be a member of a group with a mission for the common good. It takes time to make decision together.”

In group discernment the members build from God’s movement; they build from the movement of the Spirit. Three particular moments in the daily schedule of the Chapter help each capitular to get in touch with these movements: faith sharing, communal prayer, and the Eucharist.

“In faith sharing we feel the spiritual connection with each other in the group, we are not just working groups. Private reflection and faith sharing are the works of God. Communal prayer gives spiritual acquaintance with each other. There is an awareness of the grace that’s needed by the group. We need to pray individually, but sometimes we are aware that the group needs a certain grace, and we pray together for that. Or we may simply be aware of the graces that are operating in the group and the movement of God’s Spirit within the Chapter body itself. And we draw our strength as a discerning body in our daily Eucharistic celebration.”



Companion and Patroness of our General Chapter: Mother Theresia Messner


Our resource persons:  

Sr. Franziska Carolina Rehbein SSpS and                                                               Sr. Jacqueline Mulberge SSpS

Sr. Franziska Carolina introduced the biography of Mother Theresia, Margareta Messner, tracing her recognition of her missionary calling, the struggles of her first years in Steyl, and her deep prayer life which accompanied her during all her years.

Sr. Jacqueline focussed basically on the many letters M. Theresia wrote to Sisters as Superior General. Characteristic qualities that recur in her letters are simplicity, understanding and care, great practical sense, prudence, and foresight.

Following the presentations was the launching of the latest book authored by Sr. Franciska Carolina – “Burning Passion for God and his People”.  It portrays the life and work of the Congregation’s first superior general – Mother Theresia Messner, published in three languages:  German, English and Spanish.

Sharing Good News among us…


Our invited observers:

Fr. Stanislaus Thanuzraj Lazar (SVD Mission Secretary)

Fr. Paulo Narui Daisuke (SVD JPIC Coordinator)

Ms. Myrna Trabajo-Pagsuberon (lay mission partner from the Philippines)

Ms. Adriana Vilaça Gonçalves Santiago Campos (lay mission partner from Brazil)



At the service of the General Chapter


Chapter Facilitators:

Sr. Rosemary Howarth SSND & Sr. Emmie Vas SSpS

Chapter Secretaries:

Sr. Mary John Kudiyiruppil, SSpS & Sr. Joanna Kubisz SSpS

Secretariat Office Coordinator:

Sr. Mary Joy Quizan SSpS

Translation Services:

Fr. Sonny De Rivera SVD, Sr. Mary Stephanie Rualo SSpS, Sr. Mariana Mercedes Camezzana SSpS, Sr. Nancy del Carmen Noguera SSpS, Sr. Julita Bele Bau SSpS and Sr. Ildeponsa Conterius SSpS

Technical Services:

Sr. Samuelle Cha SSpS

Communication Services:

Sr. Maria Lourdes Santos SSpS

House Services:

Sr. Rastislava Kurajová SSpS, Sr. Maria Beatrix Oberhofer SSpS and Sr. Regina Chandrarani SSpS



For a start, some practical matters…


…the translation system, house facilities and other needs of the participants



Chapter Opening



“We carry the light in our hearts during these days of our 14th General Chapter and beyond. This light will reveal to us Your will for us as individuals and as a Congregation committed to share the Good News among peoples.”

Sr. Maria Theresia, as Chapter President, lights the Chapter Candle from the Paschal Candle.  Each of the 9 Home Community representatives takes a candle and lights it from the Chapter Candle.  Sr. Maria Theresia and the representatives carrying their lit candles, lead the capitulars and all others present to the Chapter Hall.  

The Chapter Candle is put in place and the representatives take their candles to their respective tables. The capitulars go to their respective Home Community tables. 



Opening Liturgy



“We welcome each other with love. Five Sisters, representing each continent, bring symbols of our uniqueness, openness and readiness to come and share stories and to recommit to the work of evangelization.”

Main celebrant:  Fr. Paulo Narui Daisuke SVD

Concelebrants: Fr. Stanislaus T. Lazar SVD and Fr. Crescente Antonio De Rivera SVD

Sr. Gerhardis, Elisabeth Gertrud Wiesmann of the Steyl community, celebrates her birthday; she is 100 years old.


Final Preparations




Arrivals of the Chapter Capitulars




The venue of the General Chapter


“We are here… the Spirit leads us on……”

Motherhouse, Steyl, Netherlands

Motherhouse, Steyl, Netherlands