Concern for the Poor

Concern for the Poor, Especially for Poor Children

The Servant of God dedicated herself to the instruction of the ignorant and above all poor and abandoned (neglected) children. She assembled them herself in order to talk to them about God and to lead them gently to pray. This was one of the aims of her Congregation: teach these children until their First Communion.

From the beginning of the Congregation, the Servant of God organized a service for poor children of the villages belonging to the parish of Niederbronn. These children received daily breakfast and lunch. Soon their number increased: After a month, there were 25, a few months later 42. Most of the children were also provided with clothes.
She wanted her Daughters to take in the children in their houses, to give them food and clothes, to attentively supervise them from morning to evening and thus to form their hearts according to Christian values. She wanted the young girls of 14 to 18 years to be saved from the dangers of idleness and to learn to work. Many municipalities appreciated the good deeds that were being done.

The poor and the sick were the preferred target groups of the Servant of God. For them she began her work because she was very sensitive to their needs; she taught her Daughters how to help them. She herself administered the first nursing care to be their model. She wanted the sick poor who were likely to come to the Sisters to be given preference. She wanted the donations of the rich to be distributed among the poor; she wanted those donations to help bring them closer and to reconcile them. She wanted her Daughters always to see the suffering Savior in the poor: “The intention of the Daughters of the Divine Savior must be to serve the person of Jesus Christ in each of the sick poor, remembering the words of the Savior: ‘Whatever You did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, You did for me’.”
Without making distinctions, the Servant of God practiced charity towards the most poor and deprived. Herself poor from her birth, sick and deprived of everything the world estimates, she deeply felt the needs of the poverty-stricken and showed herself sympathetic for all distress. Any form of poverty – spiritual, physical or material – evokes compassion in her heart and the will to find a solution.
In a region where Catholics and Protestants live side by side, she also accepts to care for the Protestants asking for her help, and she carries out this care devotedly and lovingly.

The Servant of God prayed a lot for the dying and the souls in purgatory. Inspired by Our Lord, she insistently recommended this practice to her Daughters and put it down in her regulations concerning daily prayer.

She had enemies and opponents and had to suffer obvious hostility; she never expressed words or feelings against charity. In certain circumstances, she found it difficult to accept her responsibilities as Superior General. She taught what she heroically practiced: “We will continue to esteem them, even if we are insulted and humiliated by them in different ways. We will do more good for them than for those who appreciate our charitable deeds, honor us and praise us. As long as we are not decided to endure everything our neighbor does, without being annoyed, we will not reach perfection”.
Father Glöckler could say: “Mother Alphonse Maria always remained even-tempered and did not get angry in the face when annoyed, even if the pain pierced her wounded heart and she felt powerless confronted with hatred.”
Mother Alphonse Maria practiced active charity towards her Daughters. She did not shy away from any fatigue and inconvenience, when required to accommodate, visit and encourage them because she remained a sick person. It was necessary to ask her to take care of her health.
The Servant of God did her utmost to make peace and harmony reign around her. In her instructions to her Daughters, she very much insists on sisterly charity; this was the object of her first instruction, proving that this was one of her essential concerns. She said: “Learn, my children, to bear each other in everything. If one of you is disrespectful to the other, the other one must forget it at once; she must show even more affection to the first one than she usually does, so that the one who did wrong does not even notice that she hurt the other.”
In the difficult trial caused by the separation of the houses of Würzburg, Vienna, and Sopron, Father Reichard could say: “The Reverend Mother has always treated Sister Theofile with great benevolence and charity, even if she had to reprimand her.”

God had chosen His Servant for great works of charity in the Church, and she heroically responded to the divine will. Although she lived in intensive union with God, she declared: “I would not like to join a cloistered religious order, but I would like to live where I could work for the salvation of souls.”
From the time of knowing God’s plan for her, she did not allow any human difficulty to stop her. She exhorted her Daughters to practice heroic charity through self-gift to the poor and the sick out of love for God, without counting the pains, the fatigues, without thinking of themselves, up to the sacrifice of their lives. Her letters to them before sending them to care for the cholera patients prove this.
Considering this we can better understand the passage of the Original Rule defining the “Order’s” aim: “The Order will take care of the sick poor in their own houses, if they have one, they will serve them and provide them with nutritious food, with the remedies they need, bed linen and clothes. They will nurse the other sick who ask for help. They will above all and primarily take care of the salvation of souls of the poor and sick. They will receive poor abandoned children and look after them until they have received the necessary religious instruction and their First Communion.”
Thus a Congregation that responded to an urgent need of the time was founded and experienced a surprising expansion within a few years.