Pilgrimage - VII Plenary Council

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 19:49

VII Plenary Council of the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King - Update # 3 – August 31 - September 1, 2014

On Sunday morning August 1, and Monday afternoon September 1, we had a break from our Plenary meetings for visits to some places connected with our Congregational history.

On Monday after breakfast we boarded a bus headed toward north eastern Slovenia and the little village of Kapela. It is very close to the present day borders of Austria, Hungary and Croatia.  From here a glance in any direction reveals a panorama of the beautiful rolling hills of Slovenia.  It was near here that our foundress, Sr. Margareta Puhar was born on March 6, 1818.  Marija Puhar, the second of seven children of Jožef Puhar and Terezija Švagl, attended the parish school where the Slovenian language was taught.  As a young girl she moved to live with her uncle's family in Deutschlandsberg, Austria where she remained until 1842.  

In Kapela, along with the parish families, we participated in the Eucharistic liturgy celebrated by the pastor in the church of St. Mary Magdalene.  Sr. M. Terezija Tomazin, Provincial Superior of the Province of Maribor, explained a little bit of our history to those present after the Gospel.  She noted especially that 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first sisters in Maribor.  After the liturgy we visited the site where Maria Puhar was born (a newer house built in 1949 now lies over this place.)  Again we were treated to the view of hills covered grape filled vineyards.  It was a very enjoyable experience.  

Leaving Kapela, we headed toward Maribor and two cemeteries significant in our Congregational history. In the first we remembered the first 68 sisters who had been buried close to our Mother House in Maribor in the Slomšek cemetery which no longer exists. Here we prayed before the monument commemorating these first sisters as well as our other sisters buried here.  We then visited the cemetery located in Kamnica.  In our Congregational history Kamnica was the site of a house which served as a sanitorium for many of our sisters who had contracted tuberculosis. We again prayed for our sisters buried in this cemetery and asked for their intercession and Divine Providence for the future of our Congregation.   

On Monday, September 1, we again boarded a bus – this time for Graz, Austria.  In July of 1842 Maria Puhar joined a group of teachers awaiting the foundation of a new religious community. The group was under the direction of Antonia Lampel who along with several others would be part of the first novitiate group of the School Sisters of Graz in 1843. In 1844 Maria Puhar entered the novitiate as part of the second group and became Sr. Margaritha. Sr. Margareta would belong to the School Sisters of Graz for 25 years. In 1860 she was sent as Superior to Schwanberg and on October 15, 1864 she was sent as the Superior to the first Sisters in Maribor, Slovenia.

We were greeted in Graz with gracious hospitality by Sr. Petra Rosenberger, Mother General of the present day School Sisters of Graz-Eggenberg.  We had an opportunity to visit the tomb of Antonia Lampel in the Sisters’ chapel and then to listen to a talk given by Sr. Andrea Petz, the historical archivist of the Graz Sisters. Sr. Andrea recounted the early history of the Graz Sisters and that of Sr. Franciska (Antonia) Lampel, foundress of their religious community. The presentation was done in German and translated into Italian by our Sr. Veronika Supan. It dealt with the history of the community between 1842 and 1870.  During the first of those 8 years Sr. Margareta would have come to know Sr. Franciska very well.   

After having prayed Vespers with the Graz Sisters in three languages – German, Slovenian and Italian – we joined the Sisters in the dining room for supper.  After supper Sr. Petra gave us a tour of the Graz Sisters’ school located on the premises.  In all, it was a most pleasant and memorable afternoon.

The 2014 Plenary Council Update Committee