How it all began...
»... always put the new wine that Christ gives us into new wineskins!» (From the declaration of principles by Father Cyprian Mayr OSB)
In the beginning, there were the plights of post-war Germany: forced displacement, devastation, poverty. Yet exactly this distressing situation gave rise to the idea of a new community. It all started in Schweiklberg Abbey (near Passau) where a group of 18 women had already found their spiritual home. Together with Father Cyprian Mayr OSB, at Easter 1949 they dared a new beginning: a Benedictine community, yet without a monastery, its members living in the heart of the world. As women in the Catholic Church, they wanted to consecrate their lives to God and become messengers of faith, following the example of the erstwhile missionaries of Germany, Saint Boniface and Saint Lioba. Inspired by the Rule of Saint Benedict, they also felt called to serve others in their needs.
The first task led the Community to the island of Sylt and into Germany's northernmost diaspora. The large number of refugees now living there had not only been displaced physically but spiritually as well. In this situation, the founding group of our community was entrusted with partaking in the pastoral care on the island, as well as with the responsibility for a Caritas children's home.
This early period was a hard challenge for the young community. They had to learn how to live together within the community, to lay a good spiritual foundation for their new way of life, and at the same time to meet the manifold needs of the people. These experiences brought a new insight: they needed an intensive phase of preparation – away from everyday stresses – in order to be able to live in the field of tension between action and contemplation. For these purposes, the centre of the community in Detmold (Germany) was founded in 1950.
What happened next...
From this local and spiritual centre in Detmold the mission of the community developed "in concentric circles" (Fr. Cyprian Mayr). The young community responded to various social and pastoral demands: Members of the institute worked in refugee camps and diaspora communities. They used their professional skills to help mothers, families, young people, children and old people in emergencies. As a missionary benedictine community, its members also ventured first steps beyond the national borders, if at first only within Europe.
At Pentecost 1964, at the same time as the inauguration of the Youth Education Centre on the Kupferberg, the first three missionaries were sent to Guatemala (Central America), and two years later once again three to Rwanda (Central Africa). From there, in 1988, the Community went to Goma in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Women from these countries joined the Community, thus giving it an international character.
In 1978, the papal recognition of the Institute was the confirmation that its missionary benedictine way of life in the heart of the world is part of the mission of Jesus and his Church today.
New challenges in church and society repeatedly demanded new answers and flexibility in taking on new or other tasks (See section "Worldwide" for more information on this topic).