August 29, 2023

Their Hearts Beat for Burundi … 1 –

Sister Ursula-Maria Bitterli
Switzerland / Burundi

Three Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary who lived in Burundi a long time are now back in Switzerland.

They are Sister M. Theresiane,  Sister M. Janine and Sister M. Josianne.

But their hearts remain with the people in Burundi (Central Africa)! In the texts that follow they share with us their rich experiences.

Sister M. Theresiane Maier:

I am grateful that I could be in Burundi.

One of our three pioneer sisters to Burundi, Sister M. Lioba, reached Burundi in an adventurous way; she used to tell us about life there. From Sister M. Lioba’s sharing the wish grew in Sister M. Theresiane to be sent to Burundi, also. In addition, at that time, nurses were needed for Burundi.

Sister M. Theresiane stepped forward and then served in Burundi for forty years as a nurse at two different mission centers.

In her work, she found it especially fulfilling to help the sick and the poor and to be there for starving children. She treasured the fact that the people in Burundi are very grateful, that they love the Mother of God, and that they are very open to sealing a covenant of love with her. She herself loves the Blessed Virgin Mary very much—that was decisive in her decision to join the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary.

She is not a perfect Sister of Mary, but a happy one!

“Burundi is a beautiful country and I am very grateful that I was able to be there”,

she states, beaming. She always enjoyed the singing, the clapping, and the drumming of the people in Burundi.

When asked what was difficult, she simply says repeatedly, “The language!” That is understood, because the patients in the hospital often did not understand German or French, and at the beginning, Sister M. Theresiane did not know enough Kirundi, the local language, to understand what the people needed. In her task, it was important to Sister M. Theresiane that our sisters’ family would fulfill its mission in Burundi, and also, make Father Joseph Kentenich known to many people and that God would call young women from Burundi to join our community.

Meanwhile, there are about 60 Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary from the country of Burundi! For reasons of health, Sister M. Theresiane returned to Switzerland a few years ago. What she misses the most here is the simplicity of the life style there.

– Continuation: Sister Sr. M. Janine Ohnmacht –