Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Numbers Increase from Six to Forty

The first six missionaries Mother M. Hilaria Droesch and Sisters M. Anselma Ruth, M. Tiburtia Leis,  M. Agnes Koestler; Beda Pfister; M. Illuminata Lang and S. Emmerana (Mensch) were “small in number but they were so excited. The journey, taken by boat, was long and uncomfortable. They were filled with love for God and God’s people. Their prayer had brought them to this point and they knew God would sustain them. One Sister was called to return to New York to do other work for the Congregation. The remaining Sisters stayed and other Sisters came from New York to join them. The early conditions were hard for them. They needed to become accustomed to the heat. They acquired the diseases of the poor with whom they worked. However, nothing could deter them.” 

The first local superior was Sister Hilaria Droesch (1910-21) followed by Sister Charitas Harth (1921-26), Sister Concordia Yoos (1926-31) and Sister Matilda Wilhelm (1931-37).  A few Sisters were assigned to the Puerto Rican mission from the New York each year with the understanding that the mission was temporary, although it might take generations.  The plan from the beginning was for mission to be turned over to the native inhabitants once they had the religious education and administrative experience to manage successfully on their own.   By 1935 the mission was deemed a sure success, Fr. Martín Luycks, OP enthusiastically reported “The number of Sisters had increased from six to forty, nineteen of whom are Puerto Rican by birth.  All of the five schools are accredited by the Department of Education and hundreds of little ones profited by the religious and educational training received during the years they sat on the benches of these Dominican schools, and have begun their careers in the mazes of modern life strengthened by the sound principles of Catholicism.”