History of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood
“The Spirit which I want to foster in my sisters is a spirit of friendliness and cheerfulness”
In 1885 the History of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood starts in an adventurous way in South Africa near Durban. Abbot Francis Pfanner, an Austrian Trappist lived in the strictly contemplative and secluded Trappist Monastery of Mariawald near Aachen, Germany. From there he laid the foundation of a new monastery in Banja Luka, Bosnia, and was earmarked to become the abbot of the new monastery.
But as often happens in the history of religious communities, things turned out differently. A bishop of South Africa asked for missionaries for his diocese, and instead of becoming abbot, Francis Pfanner – together with a group of monks – travelled to South Africa. As “silent monks” they were asked to make the land arable and give witness to their faith through their way of living. 1882 he founded the mission “Mariannhill” ( Mary-Ann-Hill) in South Africa.
Francis Pfanner was a man gifted with true understanding for the concerns of the people around him. Very soon, he realized that he had to find dedicated women, who would work with and for the people and respond to their needs He did not want them to lead a silent life behind cloister walls, but be engaged in charitable and social activities, especially in formal instructions in schools, in teaching the faith and handing on various manual skills. It was most important to him that children and adults should be taught and instructed independent of their color of skin, race or religion. This philosophy of life was greatly annoying to the colonial government at that time. Francis was especially interested in the training and education of girls and women.
In 1885 he therefore called women – first as mission helpers – from Germany to Africa. This was the beginning of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. Mother Paula Emunds, a woman who joined in the early days greatly shaped and influenced the group. She very soon lead the young community and implemented the visions of Abbot Francis Pfanner with her feminine intuition. It was the expressed will of the founder that the sisters were meant for the mission. Together with the name “Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood”, he gave them the mandate to show to the people something of the human, compassionate and redeeming love of Christ and to be his witnesses through a life of joy, hope and reconciliation.
The conviction “Our mission territory is the kingdom of God and that has no boundaries “ shaped both Abbot Francis Pfanner and the fast growing young community. In South Africa as well as in Europe more and more missions were started.
At present about 900 sisters are working in more than 90 mission stations all over the world. We live and work in many countries in Africa, as well as the United States and Canada, In Papua New Guinea, in Germany, Denmark, Italy, Netherland, Austria, Portugal and Korea. Wherever we are, as missionaries we strive to make tangible the love of God which we ourselves experience, a love which is the wellspring of our life. We do this particularly in the field of education and health care, in social welfare, in areas of domestic and agricultural work, in the wide field of pastoral care, through art and craft, and by fostering mission awareness.