"We did not expect so many visitors"
At the house flea market in the convent of St. Josef in Neustadt, many items found new owners. The proceeds of the flea market will benefit the Neustadt kindergarten, the fire departments in Neustadt and Erlach, and the social projects of the Dominican Sisters in South Africa.
"I didn't expect so many to come to our house flea market." Sr. Christiane Sartorius OP, the Provincial Prioress of the Oakford Dominican Sisters in Germany was surprised and delighted by the countless visitors to the flea market on Saturday, 18 March 2023 at the convent in Neustadt. On this occasion she also met many acquaintances whom she had not seen for a long time.
Due to lack of new women recruits to the convent the Dominican Sisters had to give up their convent
After the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Oakford/Natal left the St. Joseph Mission House at the beginning of 2023 and moved to the Kist Senior Citizens' Residence, all the inventory in the convent, from the cellar to the roof, was sifted through and cleared in the past months.
In the run-up to the flea market historical stones and objects were given to the Lapidarium at the Neustadt parish church. "These objects have a history, are closely connected with Neustadt and naturally belong here", Sr. Christiane makes clear. Sacred objects were given to other religious communities or parishes.
Employees spent weeks clearing and arranging for the flea market
"Our employees have done an incredible job here in the past weeks in preparation for this house flea market," Sr. Christiane praised their commitment. "We could never have done this without them!"
With the farewell of the Dominican Sisters, who had moved to the Senior Citizens' Residence Kist for reasons of age and also because of the lack of new members of their religious community, a history of more than 100 years in Neustadt thus comes to an end. The Sisters had come to Neustadt in 1909 to open a house of formation for future religious who were to be sent on mission to South Africa.
Over the long time that the sisters lived and worked in Neustadt, there was, of course, also a household in the convent. Much of it could now be purchased by interested parties at the house flea market. The total proceeds amounting to 8500 Euro will be shared by the Dominican Sisters and will benefit the kindergarten in Neustadt (2000 Euro) as well as the volunteer fire departments in Neustadt (2000 Euro) and in Erlach (2000 Euro).
The remaining 2500 Euro will be used for social projects of the Dominican Sisters in South Africa. Specifically, the money will go to the AIDS hospice of the Dominican Sisters in Ekukhanyeni (South Africa). There, not only AIDS patients are cared for, but also chronically ill and some elderly people who no longer have any relatives and come from very poor backgrounds. The AIDS Hospice at Ekukhanyeni sponsors volunteer caregivers who visit the sick and poor in the poor, rural area and, if necessary, initiate other social assistance. The AIDS Hospice also supports a small orphanage in the area.
"Despite a heavy heart, we sisters are also happy that new owners have been found for all these items, people who value them and continue to use them," says Sr. Christiane.
Parents of the kindergarten children and firefighters from right and left of the Main (Neustadt and Erlach) entertained the visitors to the flea market with coffee and cake, drinks and "Bratwürscht mit Brötli" (bratwurst and buns). Many of the visitors had also taken advantage of the beautiful weather and had come to the convent to say goodbye to an institution that will no longer exist in Neustadt.
The wicker chests with which the sisters used to travel to the mission were in great demand
In the arcade, among other things, were woven willow travel chests and wooden chests with which the first sisters - at that time still by ship - travelled to the mission in South Africa. "They were in great demand," says Conny Maier, the convent's former nursing director. Along with a dozen employees, she was the point of contact for the flea market items and accepted money and donations.
To list everything the visitors to the flea market could choose from would go beyond the scope of this article. There were bed linen, towels in all sizes; dinner-, coffee- and tea- sets, glasses and glassware en masse, vases, candlesticks, electrical items and everything that had been accumulated in a lifetime in a household. Neatly sorted and lovingly set up for the visitors to the flea market who had a wealth of items to choose from.
Many also came to say goodbye to the convent in Neustadt
At 10 o’clock in the morning the door to the convent yard opened. And they came, the visitors to the flea market and those who said goodbye to their convent in Neustadt. Many had not seen each other for a long time, here and there a cheerful hello was heard when long-time acquaintances met and chatted with each other.
Almost until the afternoon there was bustling activity in the convent and one or the other still picked up souvenirs from over 100 years of convent life.
In spite of everything, there is still a lot left. This will now go to the "Brauchbar-Sozialkaufhaus" (usable welfare department store) in Würzburg or to "Intakt" (Second-hand store) in Lohr/Marktheidenfeld.
Likewise, a former employee of the convent has a contact to a home for the elderly in Romania. At the end of March, a truck will be loaded to take bedding, towels and other items that can be used in this home. Furthermore, collections for Ukraine - such as woollen blankets and sleeping mats, among others - will be supported.
From the “Ukrainehilfe Frammersbach” employees came to the convent to collect a lot of the household goods for the about 100 Ukrainian refugees who live in Frammersbach.
Text and photos Martina Schneider
Translation: Sr. Marie-Luise Faupel OP