AJSC Newsletter

Newsletter # 10

Steyl – April 2009



Warmest greetings again from the Team of the Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center (AJSC) in Steyl: Emmie Vas,  Franziska Carolina Rehbein SSpS,  Peter McHugh and Mike Somers SVD.  


We wish you a truly blessed Easter!  May this Easter Season be for you an experience of renewed life and vigor as we celebrate again the mystery of the life-giving presence of the Risen Lord in us and among us.


Here in Steyl spring is just beginning and the first blossoms are appearing.  After the dead season of winter spring brings with it the refreshing hope of ever new life in the Spirit.  In spring,” said Arnold Janssen (1901), “we see how the plants, beautifully formed, sprout from the dark, dirty soil and soon stand before us in all their colorful beauty and with sparkling, affectionate eyes gaze at us like messengers from God.  Where do they come from?  The finger of God, the Holy Spirit, is at work here.”



OUR E-MAIL ADDRESS:   ajscsteyl@gmail.com

Please use this address for communications to the AJSC.

In this bulletin:

1.  New Personnel

2.  Sr. Franziska – “Practising what she preaches.”

3.  Activities of the Team

4.  AJSC Joint Meeting with the Two General Councils

5.  Closing of the Centennial Year

6.  Recent Publications

7.  Keeping in touch



1.  New Personnel


In our last Newsletter we informed you of the loss of our Team member Sr. Maria Cristina Avalos because of her election to the general council.  Now we bring you the good news that Sr. Aneta Kolodziejczyk has been appointed to the AJSC Team to replace Maria Cristina.  Sr. Aneta is from Poland and will join the Team in Steyl in August 2009.  The SVD general council has also found a new SVD member.  He can join us only in January 2010, and his transfer will be made and announced later.  We will introduce both of them more fully in our next Newsletter.


2.  Sr. Franziska  -  “Practising what she preaches.”


Early in December Sr. Franziska fractured one of her vertebrae and was confined to bed for almost eight weeks  --  not the most pleasant way to spend Christmas and New Year, though it did lead her deeper into the contemplative spirit on which she has based her retreats in recent years.  Happily, she is again able to walk freely, though the doctor recommends no international travel, and for the present Franziska’s involvement will be limited to coordinating programs in Steyl or nearby communities in the Netherlands and Germany.


3.  Activities of the Team.


As usual we were responsible for the spirituality section in Steyl, the retreats in the SSpS- SVD renewal courses, and for the retreat for the Dei Verbum course in Nemi. There were also shorter programs and retreats for provinces and for the SVD Roman community. And in addition some longer programs:


Franziska gave a 30-Day Contemplative Retreat in Steyl during September. It followed the basic structure of the four weeks of the Ignatian exercises but with the format of the usual contemplative retreat.  Though it was the first time to offer such a long retreat, the retreatants found it an enriching experience.


Emmie went to Cuba for a retreat and seminar for all the SVD and SSpS.  The severe hurricane had hit Cuba shortly before and Emmie witnessed at first hand the devastation and the plight of the people.  The roof of one of the SSpS convents had been blown off. But she was impressed by the solidarity of neighbouring parishes and among the people themselves. Unfortunately the country continues in an atmosphere of uncertainty since Fidel Castro stepped down from power. 


Mike conducted two-week seminars on personal growth and community life in the six convents of the Adoration Sisters in the Philippines with almost 100 Sisters participating. He had arranged beforehand with Sr. Mary Cecilia that the Sisters would be free to attend throughout the day. So lay people took over the times of adoration, which turned out to be a blessing.  Initially a common fear had been of not knowing what to share personally.  Yet as it turned out that was the aspect they found most helpful. 


Peter was in Indonesia for a series of retreats on our spirituality for the SVD Ende Province, the largest of our provinces.  Though the retreats had to be given through translation, the participation was very good and the content appreciated especially since the retreats took place during our Centennial Year.


4.  AJSC Joint Meeting with the Two General Councils


In January our Team, except for Franziska who could not travel, went to Rome for a joint meeting with the SVD/SSpS general councils.  We had requested this meeting in order to discuss the future direction of the Steyl AJS Center in the light of the last two general chapters and the present reality in the congregations.  Sr. Maria Theresia and Fr. Pernia, all the councilors and the two secretaries general spent the whole day with us. 


In their joint meeting the following day the two councils reviewed the discussions we had had and identified what action to take as follow-up. In her letter reporting their decisions, Sr. Maria Theresia wrote: “We were grateful that at the end of the day, we identified some common elements and possible steps that could be taken… It was evident that there was some common agreement on at least two points, namely the necessity of a core team and of local involvement on zonal/sub-zonal level.  Consequently, for the coming months until the next joint meeting in July 2009, it was decided to gather information on these two aspects.”  They have sent a questionnaire to various provinces.  In July the responses will be discussed and the general councils will decide what further steps need to be taken.


For us on the Team the meeting was both enjoyable and rewarding.  We felt that it had been a valuable opportunity for the councils, especially the new SSpS councilors, to gain deeper insight into the hopes and activities of the AJSC Team.  We were happy that both councils were ready to assume responsibility for the future direction and working of the AJSC.  May the Lord continue to bless these efforts to move forward.


5.  Closing of the Centennial Year


Our Team celebrated the Closing at the SSpS Generalate together with the SVD. We happened to be in Rome because of the joint council meeting.  Yet it also seemed fitting.  We had celebrated the Opening of the Year in Steyl, where it had all begun, and now Closing in Rome, the coordinating center of our worldwide mission and our ministry of spiritual animation.


Similar celebrations surely took place in your province and many have been reported on.  It is inspiring to read of the strong involvement of lay people in many places.


In Timor and Timor-Leste the provincials asked the SAT to plan with them the liturgical celebrations and with the laity to also coordinate several social projects, such as a medical team to facilitate free treatment for the sick.  Thousands of lay people took part actively and enthusiastically in the celebrations.  During the Closing Mass Bishop Dominikus  made a wonderful speech, describing the role of the Steyl Missionaries in the local church in Atambua since their first presence in 1913. Our first missionaries came to Indonesia in 1913 direct to this area of Timor.”  In Timor-Leste (East Timor) the Bishop of Dili himself led the concluding celebration.


6. Recent Publications


a)  Sr. Franziska C. Rehbein: The Mystery of God’s Love:  in the Symbolism of the Upper Church of St. Michael, Steyl.  This is a translation by Sr. Jacqueline Mulberge SSpS of the original German published in 2007.  Its 119 pages and many beautiful photos describe the spiritual vision of our Founder and the first generation as expressed in the art work of the Upper Church.  Available in electronic format on the generalates’ websites.


b)  Bimonthly Reflections.  The last of the bimonthly reflections has recently been sent out by the generalates.  The full series is: 

No. 1.  Peter McHugh: “The Love of God Shines in Our Hearts in Rainbow Colors.”

No. 2.  Peter Irsara:  Joseph Freinademetz: A Man of Love, Faith and Prayer.” 

No. 3:  Sr. Franziska C. Rehbein:  “The Eucharist in the Life of Arnold Janssen.” 

No. 4.  Leo Kleden:  “Arnold Janssen and the Parable of the Kingdom.”

No. 5.  Sr. Maria Cristina Avalos: “Mother Josepha, Hendrina Stenmanns.”

No. 6.  Sr. Mary Catherine SSpSAP:Arnold Janssen and the Will of God.” 

No. 7.  Michael Somers:Arnold Janssen; a Man of Dialogue.”

No. 8.  Arnold Sprenger: “St. Joseph Freinademetz: His ‘Conversion’.”


They were also posted in the <Centennial> section in the special generalates’ website: www.arnold-joseph-100.net (Note: Website has expired - The Webmaster)   The generalate is considering publishing them together with other material  produced for the Centennial Year.


c)  The revised Vademecum (Spanish, 383 pages and English, 415 pages) has been printed and distributed by the SVD generalate.  Both versions are intended mainly as a resource for use in preparing community prayers.


d)  Arnold Janssen Secretariat Steyl.  In February 2009  Jürgen Ommerborn’s monthly bulletin, “The Arnoldus Family Story,” began its third volume.  It is sent out in electronic format in English and German.   It was also posted in the Centennial section.  His email: sekr-aj@steyler.nl        


e) Led by the Spirit, edited by Mohan Doss SVD and published for the Golden Jubilee of our Pune seminary (India).  It contains articles on our missionary spirituality.


f)  Audiovisuals. 

Chile: Edwin Fernandez published a CD “Ante la Luz del Verbo” (Before the Light of the Word) containing 13 of his songs in Spanish.  Contact: comunicaciones@verbodivino.cl

India: Edwin Vas SVD of Ishvani Kendra released a DVD on the life of our two Saints.

Germany: a DVD about Arnold Janssen by Steyl Medien (German, English, Spanish).



7.  Keeping in Touch

You can read and download the material in the AJSC Folder  in the Public Area on the SVD website: http://www.svdcuria.org    Click on  Site Map/Mapa del sitio, then click on  AJSC–CEAJ. 

The Sisters can access the same by going to the SSpS website www.worldssps.org   click Other Links then click AJSC


Please send us material (articles, program modules) that could be useful in the work of spiritual animation.  We can post it on the internet, so that others can have access to it.  Send such material and other news in the field of animation to the following address: ajscsteyl@gmail.com     We look forward to hearing from you.


With best wishes for your work,

Franziska Carolina,   Emmie,   Peter,   Mikel.

The AJSC Newsletter is sent out in five language versions: English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Indonesian.