The Request for Help from Algersdorf
After several years, thanks to the constant efforts of the sisters, clear signs of change both in the children and in some of their families were evident. Family relationships were becoming more caring. However, even though the number of sisters had somewhat increased, more and more children were arriving at the Association and the work was rapidly increasing. Space was no longer adequate, and even more sisters would be needed.
There were several good ladies from the city who gave some part-time help. There were also some good young women and girls from the villages who helped, and whom Sr. Margareta had attracted with her friendliness. Some of these expressed their desire to become sisters, but they did not want to belong to the Graz community, but rather to stay in Maribor.
The great shortage of teachers for the school prompted Sr. Margareta to turn to Algersdorf for more help.
When I (Sr. Hedvika) came to the Convent as an aspirant on September 1, 1916, the sisters explained to us briefly and without many particulars what had happened, “...without help from Algersdorf for the work which was increasing, it seemed it would not be possible to continue the work at Maribor.”
Sr. Margareta, as superior, informed Countess Brandys and Canon Kosar of the situation. She said that unless Countess Brandys could do something to alleviate the situation, the sisters would have to leave Maribor and return to Algersdorf.
Obviously neither the Countess Brandys nor the diocese wanted the sisters to leave. The work the sisters were doing was necessary and needed to be continued. Was Bishop Slomsek’s goal to be extinguished, now that it had been kindled? Countess Brandys took the initiative:
We will not allow the sisters to leave Maribor. If they have managed to teach school, do needlework and other domestic works up to now, wouldn’t the association support them in the future as well, so that the work could continue?
Sr. Margareta was not so convinced by Countess Brandys’ words. She was aware that the help given by the women was only temporary. Even though there were young girls from the villages who had the desire to become religious, they did not want to go to Algersdorf, but to remain in Maribor.
Sr. Margareta knew the rules of religious life well. She knew that these personal desires of the young women would not be in harmony with these rules, but rather, they could be impediments, because by obedience one vowed to “Go where my superiors send me.” There seemed to be only one way to resolve the situation. If they could not obtain at least three more sisters from the superior at Algersdorf, it would not be possible to continue the work in Maribor.
Sr. Nepomucena Ziggal related to Sr. Gertrude Neuwirth how difficult this time was for the sisters.
We had so much affection for the children in Maribor that just the thought of having to leave them distressed us. Still, we understood we could not work successfully under the present conditions.
We did not speak about this sad situation among ourselves, nor with the Countess or the Curia, and we succeeded in remaining calm only through prayer, entrusting everything to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was He who had taught us to love these abandoned children and to lavish our energies on them. He who had sent us to this place and taught us to love these children as they were, would certainly clarify the situation as each side sought a reasonable solution. We were confident that everything would work out as the Providence of God saw fit.”