Sister Matilda Handl, OSB, Generalate of the Tutzing Sisters, Rome, Italy


‘From his fullness we have all received’ (John 1.16) is the theme of our jubilee year. September 24, 2009 marked the opening of celebrations for the Missionary Benedictine; Sisters of Tutzing. In 2010 it is 125 years since our founding by Father Andreas Amrhein OSB.

Mother Angela Strobel, the prioress general, handed a burning jubilee candle to sisters from various priories and regions at a colorful international Eucharist. The celebration took place in the recently renovated Immaculata Monastery at Norfolk, Nebraska, USA, where the formators of the congregation were meeting. They had cooked national specialties and entertained with delightful songs, dances, and skits about the congregation’s history.

On September 24, 1885, the first four women arrived at the “Mission House” as “servant girls.” New religious communities were prohibited in Germany at the time. Already in 1887 the first 10 monks and sisters set out for today’s Tanzania after making their monastic profession in Rome. Despite heavy losses from tropical illnesses and two uprisings, the young twin congregations grew, the sisters moving from St. Ottilien to Tutzing in 1904 and starting foundations of their own in Brazil (1903) and the Philippines (1906). By the year 2000, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters had extended to 20 countries and now number just over 1400 members, including novices.

In the course of the current jubilee year, the sisters are deepening their spiritual bonds by monthly conferences, a prayer of thanksgiving and daily intercessions. The jubilee candle is carried in procession for Sunday Vespers in the Rome community, with a voluntary fast on First Fridays. We praise God together for so much love and care during our difficult start, and for helping us overcome many crises throughout our 125 years of Benedictine living and spreading the Gospel.

Some other jubilee activities are new spirituality centers in Daegu, South Korea, and Norfolk, USA. The priory of Nairobi produced an attractive calendar with memorable dates of our history and many color photos. In Brazil golden jubilarians by a pilgrimage to our former mission on the Rio Branco in Amazonia will explore chances of a new foundation. Each community in the Olinda Priory is visiting and caring for 12-13 needy families, a total of 125. Another effort of gratitude is the collecting of more pioneer sisters’ life stories for publication. We are collaborating with our “twin” brothers of the St. Ottilien Congregation in publishing the letters of our founder. The four priories in Africa, where we began our missionary work, joined together to present a beautiful plaque of our logo for the Rome community, where international courses of renewal are held annually. Our Korean sisters are presently the largest contingent in the congregation. Two Korean sisters and two German sisters are among the North Korean martyrs whose process of beatification has been initiated.

With grateful hearts we thank God for his fullness from which we have all received and ask further abundant blessings on our future service.