"We were a big family here "
On Monday, January 9th, the moving vans roll into the monastery courtyard in Neustadt. Then it will be time to say goodbye for the 13 Sisters who have been living in the St. Joseph Mission House. They are moving to the Kist Senior Citizen’s Residence.
For some time now, the Sisters have been packing their belongings. They are thinking about what they will take with them to their new domicile, what they will keep and what they will leave in loving hands.
Boxes and suitcases for the move are collected centrally
In the community room, where the Sisters used to meet for meetings, there are now tables labeled with the name and the new room number of each Sister. In the meantime, moving boxes and suitcases are piled up there, and one or two favorite chairs are already ready for removal.
Everything that the Sisters no longer need immediately is already packed up and placed there. They are supported by their "pack mentors" who help them sort out and pack and who will also travel with them to Kist on January 9th to unpack with their Sisters in the Senior Citizen’s Residence and to help them get settled in. Some Sisters pack all by themselves, but most of the older ones are very happy to have the support and help. "Each Sister is accompanied, none left alone with the task of moving," says Sr. Christiane Sartorius OP, provincial prioress for Germany.
"We were a big family here together with the Sisters"
Of course, the staff in the convent are also sad to see the Sisters leave Neustadt. "We were a big family here together with the Sisters," says Petra Weisner, housekeeping operations manager. You can see tears in the eyes of many of the employees - saying goodbye hurts.
In the corridors leading to the Sisters' rooms, there are already small pieces of furniture and shelves that will be moved to Kist. They are all labeled with the names of the Sisters, the future living area and the new room number.
At the Senior Citizen’s Residence, the Sisters remain in community
At the Kist Senior Citizen’s Residence, the Sisters have two living areas on one floor. This ensures that they can remain in community, as they have been used to and as they have lived.
The corona virus pushed the schedule back a bit. Around Christmas time, almost all of the Sisters were affected by the disease. Now they are all harnessed again and packing as they can, always with breaks in between. A life cannot be packed into a few boxes in a few hours, so it is also necessary to say goodbye.
Sr. Liboria says goodbye to Neustadt with a heavy heart
Sr. Liboria Menke OP is one of the Sisters who have lived in Neustadt the longest and also worked in the St. Michael Reha-Center for more than three decades. She finds the move to Kist very difficult. But she has experienced a good time in her life, she says. "I want to show the Lord that I appreciate what He has done for me because He is worth it for me."
At the St. Michael Reha-Center, Sr. Liboria ran the creative department. She painted, made pottery, sewed and loved to do everything that had to do with creativity. Accordingly, she has a lot to sort out, as she cannot take everything with her. The 91-year-old gives away beautiful self-potted vases, candlesticks, even an Advent wreath made of clay. All this she gladly gives into loving hands and to those who appreciate the value of her work and so like to remember her.
Dominican Sisters and convent were part of life in the community
The figures of the crib, which she also made by herself, will go with her to the Senior Citizen’s Residence. "We can put the crib there in our common room," she says, and she is very happy about that, too. Joseph and Mary with the Christ child, with shepherd and donkey, sheep and the holy three kings together with camel are also a piece of home that moves with her.
Thus, memory follows memory - just like the filled moving boxes. It is a farewell not only for the Sisters, but also for their co-workers and many people from Neustadt and Erlach, for whom the Dominican Sisters and the convent were part of life in the community.
Text & Photos Martina Schneider