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Inteview with Sr. M. Gerlinde Kätzler, Mother Superior of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul in Zams, Austria

by | Jun 15, 2021 | News, Vincentian Family

What is the story and the mission of your Congregation?

Our motherhouse was built in 1811 by the dean of Zams, Nikolaus Tolentin -Schuler. He was looking for women to care for the sick of the village and especially to teach the girls. In 1822, he sent the head of the house, Katharina Lins, to Strasbourg to the Sisters of Charity for her formation. She returned as Sr. Josefa Nikolina in 1823. In 1826 the Dean finally had the official ecclesiastical and state approval of his Institute of Sisters of Charity. Thus, our community has two special missions: on the one hand, the care of the sick and elderly, and on the other hand, education.

Let’s go to the origins: what is the relationship between your Congregation and Saint Vincent de Paul? What is your spirituality?

Katharina Lins brought with her from Strasbourg the Vincentian spirituality. Since then, Vincent and Louise have been venerated among us and the community strives to work in their spirit.

What are the missionary activities to which you dedicate yourself ?

We are sent to the sick, elderly, disabled people and those who lack education and (religious) knowledge. That is why we run schools, boarding schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly, institutions for the disabled and day care centers. And that is why we also focus on catechesis and intensive formation in Vincentian values.

Charity in our day has been upset by the arrival of COVID-19: how did you respond as a religious congregation to the pandemic?

In our hospital many COVID-19 patients have been treated since the beginning of the pandemic. At the moment we have developed a program for those who suffer from this disease. In Peru our Sisters have much food among the poor who live in two favelas, and at the same time they provide meals on wheels to175 elderly men and women. They have set up a small COVID-19 ward that is able to care for 12 people who cannot stay in their huts and who are unable to obtain a bed in a hospital. In addition, the Sisters have been purchasing oxygen for the poor.

On January 2020 you participated in the meeting held in Rome: after almost a year what are your considerations on that meeting?

FamVin is important, interesting, good, necessary. At same time, here in Europe the congregations are growing older and do not have the necessary human resources to participate in many of the activities of the Vincentian Family.

What are the challenges of charity?

There are not enough Sisters any more.

We need to invest more time, energy and money in (Vincentian/Christian) formation of staff.

Elena Grazini


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