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Sr Liboria Menke OP celebrated her 70th anniversary of her profession

Sr Liboria with her family

[At the service in the temporary “chapel”

Sr. Christiane during the welcome and appreciation in the name of the Congregation

Together: Sisters Dagmar, Liboria and Hilke

Auxiliary Bishop Manfred Grote, Sisters Christiane and Hilke, Father Daniel and Sr. Liboria

Sr. Hilke during her humorous rendering of the “life story” of Sr Liboria

Our Sr Liboria celebrated the 70th anniversary of her profession on Sunday, 21 May 2023, at the Kist Senior Citizens' Residence, surrounded by her fellow Sisters, friends and family.

"Today is a special occasion for us to give thanks and to celebrate. Because 70 years of lived profession cannot be taken for granted. And so, we have reason enough to pause and thank God and you, dear Sr Liboria." With these words Sr Christiane Sartorius OP welcomed the jubilarian and her guests.

Spiritual companions and good friends celebrated the 70th anniversary of her profession with Sr Liboria

Father Christian Nowak, who for some years was in charge of the parish in Neustadt and has become a good friend, and Father Daniel Klüsche OSB, Sr Liboria's spiritual director for many years, also came to Kist for the celebration.

In addition, Auxiliary Bishop em. Manfred Grote from Paderborn, a relative of Sr Liboria, congratulated her. He celebrated Holy Mass with her, her family and friends and the Sisters. The solemn service was followed by a lively get-together with coffee and cake in the all-purpose hall of the Kist Senior Citizens' Residence.

The destruction and inhumanity of the Second World War left its mark on Sr Liboria

Sr Liboria was born Maria Theresia Menke on 26 March 1931 in Eissen, a small village in the Warburger Börde (North Rhine-Westphalia). In 1933, the family moved to Paderborn, where Sr Liboria grew up with eight siblings. One day after her 14th birthday, her family lost all their belongings in the bombing raid on Paderborn.

The destruction and inhumanity of the Second World War left their mark on Sr Liboria. "I was looking for a meaning in life and felt that it could not be in a successful life, in wealth and career, but in the imperishable, in God," she says. "Through a parish mission, the need to put my life in HIS service, namely in "mission", became stronger and stronger.

Her desire to work in missions was fulfilled in 1953

Through the recommendation of her confessor, a Dominican, she entered our Congregation on 31 July 1951. Her wish to work in the mission was fulfilled in 1953, when, on 14 October 1953, she left Venice for Durban in South Africa on the ship, the "MS Africa".

For 19 years Sr Liboria lived and worked in our institutions in South Africa. Her creativity did not go unnoticed by the Superior General at that time and so she sent Sr. Liboria to Rome in 1971, where the Congregation opened a pilgrimage house. There, Sr Liboria helped, among other things, with the catering for the guests. She was also sent to study sculpture at the "Akademia di belle Arti".

After 19 years in the mission in South Africa, Sr Liboria returned to Germany in 1975

In 1975, Sr. Liboria returned to the St. Josef Mission House in Neustadt. There she helped to build up the St. Michael Rehab Centre, where she found her destiny as a sensitive art, music and talk therapist. "Until your old age, you reached out to and touched many young people on the level of their hearts with music and art in your kind way and thus helped them to discover new courage and meaning in life and to make something of their lives," Sr Christiane thanked her.

For 33 years, Sr Liboria accompanied more than 1000 rehabilitants on their way to an independent future. This time was an important stage in her life, she once said. "Working in the rehabilitation centre taught me a lot. It was giving and being given at the same time."

Art and music accompanied Sr Liboria through her life

Art and music were Sr Liboria's constant companions. For many years she directed the Neustadt church choir and played the organ in the parish church of St. Michael and Gertraud.

Sr Christiane: "At the beginning of this year, it was a great challenge for you and your fellow sisters to leave your familiar home in the convent at Neustadt and to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings here in the Senior Citizens' Residence in Kist. Your positive handling of the need to let go is really admirable and encouraging. Thank you, dear Sr Liboria, for your testimony of being drawn anew each day into God's promise of being loved by Him."

Read a review of Sr Liboria's journey in the Dominican community by Sr Christiane Sartorius OP here.

Text Martina Schneider
Photos Sr Marie-Luise Faupel OP and Irene Schneider
Translation Sr Marie-Luise Faupel OP and Sr Alison Munro OP