May 20, Memorial of Blessed Josepha Stenmanns, co-founder of SSpS
The WORD in Other Words by Fr Chito Lorenzo SVD (Japan)
One of the holy people of God we celebrate today is Blessed Josepha Stenmanns, who together with St. Arnold Janssen co-founded the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit on Dec. 8, 1889.
She was born Hendrina Stenmanns but took the religious name “Josepha” when she professed her vows. The eldest of seven children, even at a young age, she already showed concern for the poor and the suffering. She was drawn to the monastic life but had to put her personal plans on hold in order to help her family. But God had other plans for her and she found herself in the first mission house of the Society of the Divine Word helping out in the kitchen, a work she dedicated as a service for the missionary work of the Church.
When St. Arnold Janssen decided to establish a female missionary congregation, she was made co—foundress and after her formation to the religious life was completed, she became the Superior in 1898 until her death in 1903. She was beatified on June 29, 2006.
In one of her letters to a Sister in the missions she states:
“Just be truly sincere and insignificant in your own eyes; then all will go well. Earn the children‘s trust through love, for love wins hearts. If it becomes rather difficult at times, recall how you promised Jesus Christ fidelity until death; therefore do not draw back from the plow. Cheerfulness and good humor are part of holiness, and they keep the soul peaceful. Often pray; it relieves the heart.”Blessed Josepha Stenmanns (Co-Founder SSpS)
These are words that we can also take to heart as we strive to be missionaries in our own way, trying our best to follow Jesus and sharing God‘s message of love and salvation to all we meet