As Sister Patrice told us so well last week, the Sisters of St. Mary throughout the world have opened the celebration of 200 years of service to the Church and the communities where we have been. As a sign of our unity and love, on Nov. 11th, we assembled and prayed together the beautiful Evening Prayer prepared by our Sisters in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then we gathered around our tables to eat together the same simple supper which the first two young women ate in 1819—baked potatoes and baked apples. How beautiful and meaningful it is to preserve our congregational traditions!
We are also mindful of the fact that Nov. 11th was the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War in 1918. We remember the terrible suffering and loss of life and honor the heroic sacrifices made by soldiers in that deadly war.
Many of our Sisters in Texas knew and loved Sr. Mary Mathilda Laufkotter, a native
of Prussia, who worked so hard for the Mexicans in Texas. During that war, she was
called to be interviewed by American officials in Waco, where she was stationed. This is
her story in her own words.
“To be a German was almost a crime in the eyes of many, and we Sisters, like all German aliens, had to accept many hard restrictions. Among others in Waco, we had to undergo a strict examination. Many questions were asked concerning our past, our families, our homes. We were in a big hall; there were many people working for the government using hundreds of noisy typewriters. Among many questions I was asked, “Are there any members of your family fighting in this war?” My answer was, “Yes, my father and three brothers!”
“Any deaths?” – “My Father and two brothers!”
“As soon as I had said that, the Officer in charge ordered in a loud voice – “Silence! Ladies and Gentlemen! Salute the daughter and sister of three heroes who died for their country!”
“Those words are forever enshrined in my heart; they made me an American forever! I stood there not as an enemy. America saw in me only the daughter, the sister, whose Father and brothers had given their life for their country.”
This week, on Thanksgiving, we give thanks for so many things including the amazing Sisters, both past and present, whom we love and honor today. In the words of Joyce Johnson Rouse,
“I am standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me
I am stronger for their courage, I am wiser for their words…
I will stand a little taller, I will work a little longer
And my shoulders will be there to hold the ones who follow me.”
-Sister Louise Smith
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221