History

Beginnings

Divine Providence made use of human agents and the political situation in the South Sea Islands to call forth the foundation of the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Thus, Rev. Hubert Linckens, MSC was commissioned by the founder of his society, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, to establish a congregation of Sisters who would share the charism and spirituality of their founder, Fr. Jules Chevalier. The initial purpose of the foundation was to provide German Sisters to work in the mission island area of Papua New Guinea which, at that time, were newly acquired colonies under the German Government. The colonial government was requesting sisters to be sent to the missions. The sisters themselves were eager to go. They were continuously declaring their readiness to travel to the South Pacific.

 

The First Missioning to the South Pacific

 IIn 1902, only two years after their foundation on March 25, 1900, the first missionaries left for their assignment in the Marshall Islands and New Pomerania, part of present-day Papua New Guinea. The first mission appointments were announced on the second Easter day, March 31, 1902. Five sisters were called to travel to the Marshall Islands and seven sisters were sent to New Pomerania. On July 17, 1902 they received their mission crosses at a special Mass. In the autumn of 1903 a further ten sisters prepared for the journey across the ocean. Father Hubert Linckens himself accompanied the group. Life in the tropics was very difficult; however, no hardships were able to dampen their zeal and enthusiasm for God's work among the people. The First World War caused the expulsion of all Missionary Sisters from the Marshall Islands in 1919. After a five month grueling journey via Japan and Belgium, they arrived home.

 

Change of Leadership: The Community Becomes "Self-governing"

While Father Linckens was visiting the South Pacific, Mother Servatia, a sister of Divine Providence who assisted Fr. Linckens in the early foundation of the congregation, died in Hiltrup (April 6, 1904), at only 43 years of age.  He was deeply affected by her death and his plans for the continuation of the young community seem shattered. Deciding that the community should now govern itself, Fr. Linckens chose Sister Franziska Fleige to become the first general superior of the MSC sisters.   Being in charge of the mission station in Vunapope, she was able to gather as much missionary experience as possible and thus prepare herself for the great responsibilities ahead. She left her position in the South Pacific and returned to Hiltrup. On March 9, 1906, she was installed as the first General Superior and an official council was chosen. She took her final vows shortly before her investiture. At the time of the installation of the first general council the revised constitutions of the congregation were approved for a period of ten years.

 

The Congregation’s Expansion and Martyrdom of MSC Sisters

On August 13, 1904, an event took place that would have a profound effect on the young foundation. In a matter of minutes, 2 MSC Fathers, 3 Brothers and 5 Sisters were brutally killed by the Natives of Baining in Papua New Guinea. The news of the murders worked its way through the German press. Instead of being put off, many young women now believed they had the calling and felt  encouraged to put their lives into missionary service. More women joined the order than could be sent as missionaries to the South Pacific. The process of growth and establishment was constant. The Congregation kept expanding into other countries and developing its ministries in education, health care, and pastoral work.  An increase of young women who wished to serve as missionaries allowed the small congregation to reach out in its efforts to the United States in 1908 where the sisters worked among the immigrants, mainly in parishes and parish schools. In 1927 German MSC Sisters started in Australia, offering their service to local needs and giving support to the missionaries in PNG, especially for their healthcare and ongoing formation.  For over 75 years, the Australian MSC Sisters gave generous help in personnel and financial support to the PNG mission.  From 1932-1952 German MSC Sisters and MSC Fathers started a mission in China, which they had to let go of in 1952 because of the political situation in China.  Just before the Second World War, a group of Sisters were sent to Peru. The government had requested 100 Sisters for staffing the new workers' hospitals in Peru. This number was never reached. Nevertheless, the mission developed and Sisters worked in healthcare, education and pastoral work among the poor in urban and rural areas. In 1954 the General Administration, which had been since its foundation in Hiltrup-Münster, was transferred to Rome, Italy. The foundation in Spain (1963) had as one of its objectives to foster further religious vocations for Latin America.  In Spain itself, education had been the main focus of our Sisters’ ministries.
 
 

The Congregation after Second Vatican Council

The celebration of the Second Vatican Council had a great impact on the renewal of the Congregation, on a deeper understanding of the identity of MSC Sisters in the Church and on new missionary efforts. During this period new foundations began in Asia.  The Congregation was asked to receive and prepare young Korean women who did their formation program in Germany. In 1965 the first community of sisters began in Korea. Also from India, young women joined the congregation and were prepared in Germany.  They  started their own projects in India in 1976.   Other foundations followed in the Dominican Republic (1985), El Salvador (1989), Mexico (1993), and Guatemala (1995) and these were initiated by the sisters in Peru, Spain and the USA.  In these areas the sisters worked in  pastoral care, healthcare and education, promoting social justice in areas of conflicts and violence.  In 1992 in Rumania, an MSC community began in response to needed assistance of women religious  requested by the German Catholic Church and particularly, Caritas.   Another project in the Philippines (1994) was initiated to set up a house of studies for Sisters from different countries, mainly from Korea and PNG. This project developed into a house of studies and formation for our MSC sisters and today the community has a significant outreach in the areas of  health, education and pastoral ministry.

 

The Congregation's Second Century Begins

In 2000 the Congregation celebrated its first centennial and in 2004, the 100th  anniversary of the martyrdom of  our MSC Sisters and Fathers in PNG.   These were significant moments of encouragement for the young MSC Sisters in different countries to reach out - as our foundational charism challenges us - to areas of great need within and outside their countries of origin. The community in Kiribati began in 2005 by Sisters from the PNG Province and in August 2006, four Sisters from Peru, Guatemala and Korea began a new mission foundation in Paraguay.  MSC sisters in 2009 returned to the Marshall Islands and in 2014, Namibia (Africa) sent their first MSC missionaries to minister in Angola.

 

For this heart you are in the midst of the world.

We have experienced God's love and are called to share it through our being, and our actions, in all circumstances, at all times.
–  H. Linckens –