Bl. Josepha - SSpS JPIC Seminar

Mother Josepha is blessed
with various gifts that
witness to sound knowledge
good ability and long
She had a great talent for
organization; she was a
competent weaver of silk.
She had a natural gift for
training young people.
Above all she had a richly gifted disposition: she was
refreshingly natural, well balanced, reflective,
motherly, intuitive prudent and showed patience
with the maturing process of young people and many
When a successor for Mother Maria had to be found
the unanimous choice of the sisters fell on her
because she had a good command of all the task
the sisters had to do.
Her letters show that she quickly grasped the
special circumstances of the overseas ministries
and was able to sense and accompany from afar
the changes taking place in individual sisters and
in the young foundations.
One of the things people in Issum
remember about Hendrina is the fact that
she was a member of the Third Order of
St. Francis.
A few people who were close to her
recalled that she was nineteen when the
parish priest John P. Frankeser accepted
her into the fraternity, that she followed
the rules conscientiously and fatihfully
attended meetings.
In addition, it was well known that she visited
the sick and helped the poor from her own
means. She had an attentive eye for the needs
of others and always found a way to the sick
and needy villagers.
Although she was still young, people came to
her for advice, orientation and help, also in their
inner problems.
She could feel the
inner suffering and
secret pain of others.
The villagers placed
their trust in her.
Great benefactor of her village
She wished and longed
wholeheartedly to follow the
Lord, to serve Him in the poor,
the sick and the needy.
…simplicity, modesty, kindness,
friendliness, cheerfulness, her love
for the poor and the needy, and
especially her wish to remain
unknown and hidden was part of her
Over the years she matured on the human as well as
on the spiritual level. She learned the lessons of life
through her service for the poor and needy.
On 12 February 1884 she joined
the Mission House as a maid.
March 12, 1894
she made her first
profession as a
Missionary Sister,
Servant of the Holy Spirit
and was given important
responsibilities in the
young congregation.
As assistant to Mother Maria
and later on as superior, she
was concerned for the well
being of each sister and their
And as formator she
combined decisiveness
and firmness with
great mildness.
She trained the sisters so
that they were capable of
managing all kinds of
situations in the missions.
She was deeply
concerned for good
relationships among
the sisters. This
concern was shown
through her letters
to the sisters.
1902, Brazil
1901, USA
More than once she
underlined the fact that
where there is peace and
love, God is present with
his blessing. Unity boosts
quality and as such is a
proclamation; it guarantees
that the message is
convincing, supports
individuals and raises the
effectiveness of the activity.
An outstanding trait of M. Josepha was
her simplicity. “The sisters are to be simple
in their manner, simple in their speech,
and simple in their dealings with others!”
“Simplicity is a distinctive characteristic of our
What does it mean to be simple?
Today more and more we stress the
value of presence in our missionary response. This
presence may mean a timely and a wise word which at
times may just be a moment of silence; it is to be, to
listen, to accompany with respect; it means to
communicate in our feminine being and attitudes the
love and message of God, Father and Mother.
An outstanding characteristic of Mother
Josepha’s spirituality is the simplicity of
her vision of her faith, which allowed her
to see every event in God’s light.
Through the eyes of faith, she
recognized the will of God in all things.
Where the “natural person” sees only the
movement and constant confusion of
external facts, she saw the mysterious
action of God.
The “Veni Sancte Spiritus” flowing from the depth of her
heart became her second nature, as natural as her
breathing. Her personal motto: “God Holy Spirit, I
consecrate my whole life to your honor and love.”
One of her last recommendations given to the sisters
in the missions was: “ Your task there are certainly not
easy, but offer each drop of sweat praying joyfully: God
Holy Spirit, all for love of you.” Asked for her last words
to the sisters she said: ”Venerate the Holy Spirit
sincerely and practice sisterly love.”
Mother Josepha regarded JOY as one of the
main characteristics lived according to God’s
will. She encouraged the sisters to fulfill
God’s will by joyfully bearing all the sacrifices
of life in a foreign country , by joyful
availability in the service of God and in
mutual love.
This inner joy in the acceptance of all that
God permits in missionary life was expressed
in the words: Cheerfulness is Holiness.”
Mother Josepha’s image of God was above all the God
of love. God was like the golden background against
which she passed her teachings to the sisters: “pray
that the Spirit of Love make his dwelling you… Let us
strive to achieve everything in love and through
love…”( Letter of1 November 1899.)
Prayer had transformed Mother Josepha’s life. Once when
asked if she prayed always, her reply was “ I don’t know it
myself; but I feel that I am always praying.” Her prayer came
from the center of her being.
As her spiritual testament she left us the words that surely
marked her own life: “Each breath of a Servant of the Holy Spirit
must be a constant ‘Come Holy Spirit,” thus summing up her life
as a permanent attitude of prayer and surrender.
Mother Josepha experienced God’s love in
her heart and through this intimate union she radiated
God’s kindness intensely and naturally. Those who
talked to her became aware of the expression of deep
joy in her eyes.
A young sister who was sick said, “Each visit of Mother
Josepha was like a ray of sunshine that warmed the
room and went down deep into our hearts.”
The experience that God loved her from all eternity,
and had chosen her, is the source of the awareness
of her vocation and mandate, the source of energy
for all her being and action. Her only desire was to be
the “least” and to offer herself as a sacrifice for the
spreading of the Good news.
Mother Josepha was extremely active, but her
surrender to God every moment transformed her into
a contemplative person fully in action.
Mother Josepha wished everyone to come
to the knowledge of the divine life as
expressed in the motto “May the Holy Triune
God live in our hearts and in the hearts of
all people.” The missionary ideal of Mother
Josepha was to open the hearts of all to love.
Her Personal Experience of God:
We see her missionary ideal, the unconditional
surrender to God’s will and the desire and
readiness to be led and guided completely by the
Holy Spirit so that God’s holy will might be done
in her.
Her life is an expression of joyful and prayerful
service summed up in her constant prayer, “Come
Holy Spirit.” She gained the confidence of the
sisters through her practical leadership for
community building.
We find in Hendrina Stenmanns
great love for the poor, the sick and
the needy, and a great simplicity, a
characteristic of her lived spirituality
that already marked her life in her
home village of Issum.
Her motto beautifully expresses
this sentiment:
“I desire nothing more than, with
the grace of God, to be the least
and to offer myself as a sacrifice
for the work of spreading the
Like Jesus walking with the disciples on the way
to Emmaus, Mother Josepha constantly
journeyed with the sisters. She enlightened them
and opened their eyes to a new reality of life in
Here lies the challenge of our mission: to be with
the poor, the sick, the afflicted and the
discouraged of our historical and social reality.
Mother Josepha, a simple and spontaneous
woman, chosen by God to be a co-Foundress
of our Congregation – along with
Fr Arnold and Mother Maria Helena– who was
able to say: “It is the work of God. He has
done it all; I am nothing” through her life,
words and example shows us the path to
If she were alive today, she certainly would talk about
great concern for the preservation of life on the planet
and would join her efforts to the struggle for human life
that is under much threat and suffering. Her concrete
example as a missionary woman, integrated in all
aspects and acting in a feminine manner, in firmness and
motherly tenderness, as SSpS Missionary, Formator, and
Leader, continues to show us today how to live the
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