September 25, 2019

A Schoolyard Where the Blessed Mother looks at all the Children

from Sister M. Edith Franzke

May I introduce myself? I am Sister M. Edith Franzke and have been in the teaching profession since 1999. I have been allowed to work at the

St. Walburg primary school in Eichstätt

for some time now. Sometimes I think: This is probably the only schoolyard where the Blessed Mother looks directly at all the children because a beautiful statue of her is attached to the guest house of the Benedictine abbey next door. The Abbey of St. Walburg and the school belong closely together, both spatially and historically. In Bavaria we lead a class for two years, either in the first and second school year or in the third and fourth year. After some changes between 1 and 2 or 3 and 4, I am currently leading a second class. Some experiences in my school life are unforgettable for me.

A few examples:

– My first class with 30 children was on the one hand a challenge. On the other hand, the originality of the children was a very special gift to me. The children came from 13 different and sometimes very small villages. Everything was very rural. At that time I worked in the district of Neuburg/Schrobenhausen. For example, how did little Stephan from the second class manage to jump almost 10 feet? Quite simple! Behind the house there was a stream, and he jumped over it with great zeal and an equally athletic friend. One day when I was riding my bicycle past his home, I discovered this phenomenon and was able to reveal the answer to the riddle of the sports teacher.

– It is a topic of its own when first-graders take a test. They see it as a job like any other and do not necessarily intend to show what they can do. I gave the first grade children a test in math. After a while I discover: Oh, Luke has no worksheet. I walk up to him and apologize: “I guess I missed you!”  “No,” replies the boy. I am surprised: “But where is your paper?” He: “In the schoolbag! I’ll do that at home!”

I find the following observation no less puzzling: Well, Janine was already finished with her work. What is she still writing now? And why is Sebastian sitting there next to her quietly and doing nothing? Sebastian knows the answer: “It’s like this: My girlfriend is already finished with her work. So I gave her my hand!”

– The work in the religious field is interesting; but also very difficult. What do the children take with them? That is often my question. I have a children’s pilgrim MTA that the children can take with them. A child who was very alert to the prayer process in the morning prayer circle was happy when she prayed the little consecration to the Blessed Mother for her parents in the evening and waved to the Blessed Mother at the end: “Blessed Mother, I greet you,  greet me also!” The parents told afterwards how much they were moved by this, so that it is now part of the evening prayer to say good night.

– The work in the religious field is interesting; but also very difficult. What do the children take with them? That is often my question. I have a children’s pilgrim MTA that the children can take with them. A child who was very alert to the prayer process in the morning prayer circle was happy when she prayed the little consecration to the Blessed Mother for her parents in the evening and waved to the Blessed Mother at the end: “Blessed Mother, I greet you,  greet me also!” The parents told afterwards how much they were moved by this, so that it is now part of the evening prayer to say good night.

– When I was ill for a week and was therefore absent from school, the substitute teacher was amazed at how the children independently arranged the morning circle and explained to the teacher that they already knew what they were praying for. And they proudly showed it to the substitute teacher. When I came back and the substitute teacher told me how assuredly the children could pray their morning prayer, yes, you could see that this was very special again when they prayed with me and in the presence of my colleague.

– I am particularly pleased that Muslim children participate in the Morning Prayer in their own way. So far they have held back, but in the time when we pray, they also perform a rite agreed upon with each other. And that is beautiful for the feeling of community arises from this.

– For the coming harvest festival I was asked if my class would come to the nursing home and sing. The children, who love making music and singing, will gladly join in. We went there one morning, and it is always nice for the elderly when they see the children. There are two retirement homes in Eichstätt. In Advent – shortly before Christmas – we were able to bring joy with songs, light-dances and music. Now we will probably also visit the other facility for the elderly. In Eichstätt there is the advantage that some children sing in the cathedral choir. They are a good support and help with polyphonic songs. And making music with Orff instruments is fun for all children.

 Perhaps another impressive experience. The mountain Frauenberg belongs to Eichstätt. When we go hiking, we often go to the Frauenberg. The children enthusiastically collect natural materials such as chestnuts. There is a cave on a particular forest path. There, the children can stay endlessly and let their imagination run wild. When one comes from the forest path to the Frauenberg, there is a wayside shrine with the MTA picture of Schoenstatt. Now there is a man in Eichstätt who was homeless and had frozen his feet in winter. It is difficult for him to walk. So he has to walk with a walker. One day, when we had a hiking day and just stepped out of the forest onto the road and looked over to the wayside shrine, we saw this man (mid 40s) coming with the walker on the path. But what did he do? He had obviously collected flowers, put them in his basket, and now he laid them down in front of Our Lady. He remained still. The children also remained still. None went on. They watched in awe-inspired distance. They waited until this silently praying person continued with his walker on his way. The man is well known in the city, also his difficult fate. Afterwards we prayed together at this wayside shrine. The children were impressed.  One could feel that.