The origin and development of the Holy Spirit Sisters Community in Germany
In the year 1940, Fr. Bernhard Bendel became parish priest in Mammolshain in the diocese of Limburg in Germany. This was during the World War II. Fr. Bendel was a man of intuition and inspiration. From the very beginning he felt that God wanted to give a special grace at the little old church in Mammolshain: the grace of God’s love. Many people, especially young people, began to pray there for this special grace. When between 1946 and 1948, a new church was built in Mammolshain the little old church was preserved as part of the new building out of reverence for the many prayers which had been offered and out of gratitude for the many graces which had been received there over two centuries and especially during the last war.
In Mammolshain there was a house called ‘Villa Blaschek’. It had been used by the Nazis for the training of women. In 1947 it was leased by the diocese of Limburg with the right of purchase. During the first post-war, it served as a home for exiles and refugees from the former German east-territories.
In October 1949, the Vicar General of the diocese of Limburg, Dr. George Höhle, asked Fr. Bendel to start a new community of sisters with some women who has been living in community before. This request came totally unexpected. In January 1950, Fr. Bendel made a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the apostles in order to seek clarity in prayer. Several talks with the Vicar General and also with the Bishop, Dr. Wilhelm Kempf, followed. What finally made him agree to the request was the word of the Bishop: “By starting a new community of Sisters, you can do more for the church than as a pastor in a parish”.
Submission to the plan of God:
Fr. Bernhard Bendel mets the 1st batch on 7th and 8th March 1950 in Diethardt and Niederlahnstein for the first time. There took place extensive conversations with the sisters in question for the new foundation. Then he consulted with Msgr. Lamay and Bishop Wilhelm in Limburg. They had insisted him to start a community. In conversation with the former Fr. Bendel insisted that this was not to be a matter of a community with a particular purpose but rather that we must wait for God to direct everything. On the return trip from Rome, this had become clearer yet in a conversation with his confessor, who had said in addition: “Wait until the Bishop approaches you again”. Fr. Bendel never forget the following conversation with the Bishop and words “begin with the foundation, in such a way you can work in to the Church much more deeply than if you would remain a parish priest” and his answer was “for many years now I have known that something special would come across my way . But now I don’t want to say no anymore to your wish which you have been expressing for half a year”.
The coming of the 1st sisters:
On 21st April 1950, the 1st three sisters of Diethardt and Niederlahnstein came to Mammolshain. They were later followed by four more sisters. On 21st April is the birthday of Vincent Pallotti. This date was not selected intentionally. Afterwards it was found, faith in the Communion of Saints a very profound and meaningful connection with the person and work of Vincent Pallotti.
Community in the Holy Spirit:
The core experience of the 21st of April 1950, won great significance for the history of the Opus Spiritus Sancti. As Fr. Bendel was preparing himself for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist early in the morning, he suddenly felt a deep impulse to fetch the Holy Scripture and open it up. As he knelt and opened the Bible, his eyes fell upon the beginning of St. Peter’s speech in Act. 2: 17 and indeed upon the words: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”. It suddenly became very clear to him that the sisters who were to arrive in Mammolshain that evening would bear the name of the Holy Spirit and be committed to the Pentecostal event.
On Pentecost 1950 May 28th, the 1st seven sisters prayed their dedication to the Holy Spirit in the Mommolshain Church, thereby placing themselves at the disposal of God’s Spirit and promising to live according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, virginity and obedience. The dedication was the answer to the call which God had given to the young community. This day is considered as the day of foundation of the community.
The first seven Sisters dedicated their lives to the Holy Spirit thereby founding the Community
From right to left Rector Fr. Bernhard Bendel, Sr. Marianne Prein, Sr. Huberta Pollen, Sr. Coronata Peveling, Sr. Gertrud Gauckler, Sr. Josephine, Sr. Elizabeth Gerardi and Sr. Benedicta Pfeil
Now German Region is existing as a Group with seven members. They are very active in the Parish and Pastoral work.
How God accompanied the growth of the Holy Spirit Sisters
The Holy Spirit Sisters had not only taken up different ministries in the diocese, but had also followed the call to move on to other countries as missionaries: 1962 to the United States, 1964 to Tanzania, East Africa, and 1969 to India. This development had not been planned, but is considered as God’s guidance. Each time there was a bishop who asked the Sisters to come and work in his diocese. Fr. Bendel had one condition: The Sisters should be allowed to build up their Community with the vocation of local women.