Namibia 1957 to present
Expansion and Mission in Namibia
The first discussions concerning a mission in Africa in 1957 was in correspondence between Archbishop Joseph Gotthardt OMI with Superior-General Mother Pacifica Boeing. Though the application had been approved in principle, it lasted more then five years before it would materialize. The Sisters, who had been chosen, needed sufficient time to prepare themselves for this new missionary endeavor. In 1960 Bishop Rudolph Koppmann visited the Sisters in Germany and explained to them their new mission. It was in September 1961 that the new Superior General Sr. Veneranda Bohlen Wrote a letter to Sisters Domitilla, Leopoldine, Ewalda, Adelinde, Jutta, Maria Monika that they were the very special chosen ones to bring God's message to Africa. The Ship Waterman, that brought the group Sisters to South West Africa, later Namibia, reached the harbor of Walvis Bay on April 11, 1962.
The new Sisters took over the management of the St. Benedict Hospital in Gobabis and also the Primary School with Hostel for the different ethnic groups of children from the workers in the Town and on the Farms.
In the same year the Farm Gunichas 12 km south of Gobabis was bought with the aim of transferring School and Hostel from Gobabis to Gunichas. This was necessary because of the Odendaal Plan which was being enforced in those days, saying: "No black person in a white town - and vice-versa." This applied also to Religious and Priests with consequences for those with 'mixed' communities. This apartheid policy reached its peak and is still present even after 20 years of independence.
Very soon the Sisters were deeply involved in Pastoral work with Sacramental Courses of 14 days each, three times a year. These were held in Gunichas and in Aminuis for Farm Christians providing them with the necessary catechetical instructions for receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion , Confirmation, Marriage; with catechesis for the 1200 children staying in the hostel; Word and Communion services on the farms, training of lay ministers for the various ministries ; home visits in the town of Gobabis. All in all a vast, fruitful involvement of all three communities in the region Omaheke: Gobabis, Epukiro, Aminuis.
In Pedagogical-Catechetical Seminary - from 1972 in Gunichas /Gobabis - was run mainly by the Sisters. The students were prepared in two-year training course for educational and catechetical work in the hostels of the Church and also for the State.
In the training courses for the candidates preparing for the Permanent Diaconate. Sisters were always present, especially for the wives of the Candidates, offering them various subjects.
In furthering the membership of the congregation: For the continuation of the Mission work it would be important to plant the Congregation in Namibia soil. In 1975 the Congregation agreed to admit the first Candidates for Religious life from Namibia to the Congregation. In this way the door was open for local vocations. The Congregation took root in Namibia.
Since 2007 the Congregation expanded to the Diocese of Keetmanshoop, in the South of Namibia, thus not only working in schools/hostels and a State hospital of the Archdiocese of Windhoek - always with a pastoral viewpoint, but also beyond. The Novitiate was also transferred to the South: Tses .
Looking to the future of the Church and the Congregation it is evident that the Church and the Congregation presently have reached the tipping point - difficult and even painful for the expatriate missionaries and also for the local Religious and Priests, but necessary and highly enjoyable, being proof of a successful process of evangelization that stems from a 'Missionary Church and continues through the Local Church'. Today, the majority of priests, Sisters – also in our Congregation - 'are home-grown', native people. The age of foreign missioners also is cause for the acceleration of this process.
Namibians Sisters celebrating 50 years of mission