"You have redeemed us O Lord in your Blood!"                     

History of St. Patrick’s – Eastern Cape Province

The beginnings of Black Sisters

As early as the 1920s, Black girls in Natal began to aspire for Sisterhood and wanted to join the Precious Blood Sisters in Mariannhill. Bishop Adalbero Fleischer of Mariannhill had founded in 1922 an African Congregation named Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi. He bluntly refused and forbade the Precious Blood Sisters to accept girls for their Congregation. All girls wishing to join religious life should join the Daughters of Assisi.  

 After overcoming many difficulties, the General Chapter of 193 decided that Black girls should be accepted and affiliated to the C.P.S. Congregation, under the name A.C.P.S. (African Congregation of the Precious Blood).  

Knowing the opposition of Bishop Fleischer, to any Black Congregation, Mother Germelina Harberkorn, Provincial Superior, asked permission from Bishop Emmanuel Hanisch C.M.M. of Mthatha, to open a novitiate of Black candidates in his prefecture. He gladly allowed the Sisters to acquire St. Patrick’s farm. After some negotiations, the contract of sale was signed in January 1933.

 The first candidate, who became Sr. Francis Mpungose, arrived from Mariannhill. She was received as a Postulant. After waiting for several years, she was received as a postulant on 1 July 1936. In 1937, three more candidates were made postulants, and canonical Postulancy started with Sr. Raphaelis König as their directress. There were already 20 candidates.

 The first Postulants were received into the novitiate on 8 December 1938. They were:

Sr. Francis Mpungose
Sr. Paula Gcabashe
Sr. Johanna Ndimande
Sr. Thomas Mathontsi.

 The first 3 Novices made their first profession on 6 January 1941. Sr. Francis had to wait.

 The stories of the first vocations, and their struggles, difficulties the candidates and Sisters went through in those initial years are remarkable. The conditions at St. Patrick’s were extremely poor. Hard manual work had to be done in order to survive. They had to build mud huts, fetch stones from far, and thatch the huts themselves with grass. Their determination to be C.P.S. and perseverance are admirable.   

 Bishop Hanisch, the fatherly friend of the Sisters died in 1940, having brought a candidate from Natal – later called Sr. Emmanuela Mkwane. The first Black Sister to die was Sr. Martha Tsuputse in October 1945. In 1946 Sr. Johanna Ndimande died, followed by a candidate. All were dying from Tuberculosis (T.B.) and Pneumonia.  

 In 1949, the new apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Martin Lucas, suggested that the Black Sisters should be separated from C.P.S. and either become an independent Congregation or join the Assisi Sisters. All were opposed to that. In 1951, Mother Salvatoris Füssmann, than Provincial Superior, asked for full integration of Black Sisters to C.P.S.

In 1959, the General Council arranged for a secret ballot for the Sisters to suggest for their future. They all voted unanimously for incorporation into the C.P.S. On 6 January 1962, the first Black Sister of St. Patrick’s made their perpetual vows, after almost 20 years of waiting. A second group took perpetual vows on the 2 July 1962. Each time the Sisters placed their vow formulas into the hands of Mother Imeldis Mülder, Superior General, who had come to Glen Avent for that occasion.

 The school was opened at St. Patrick’s on 2 August 1931, by Bishop Emmanuel Hanisch.                   

                                                                                                                                                                   Sr. Joan Ncapai CPS


Abbot Francis Pfanner arrives at Dunbrody (Eastern Cape)
Extra Text about the History of CPS written by Sr. Annette Buschgard cps
History_The beginnings in Eastern Cape_On_Fire_For_Mission[1].doc (28KB)
Abbot Francis Pfanner arrives at Dunbrody (Eastern Cape)
Extra Text about the History of CPS written by Sr. Annette Buschgard cps
History_The beginnings in Eastern Cape_On_Fire_For_Mission[1].doc (28KB)

History of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood

 In 1885 the History of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood starts in an adventurous way in South Africa near Durban.

 Abbot Francis Pfanner, an Austrian Trappist lived in the strictly contemplative and secluded Trappist Monastery of Mariawald near Aachen, Germany.  From there he laid the foundation of a new monastery in Banja Luka,  Bosnia, and was earmarked to become the abbot of the new monastery.  But as often happens in the history of religious communities, things turned out differently.  A bishop of South Africa asked for missionaries for his diocese, and instead of becoming abbot, Francis Pfanner – together with a group of monks – travelled to South Africa.  As “silent monks” they were asked to make the land arable and give witness to their faith through their way of living.  1882 he founded the mission “Mariannhill”  ( Mary-Ann-Hill) in South Africa.

 Francis  Pfanner  was a   man gifted  with  true understanding   for the  concerns  of  the  people around  him.  Very soon, he realized  that  he had to find  dedicated women, who would  work with and  for the people  and respond  to  their  needs He did not want them to lead a silent life behind cloister  walls,  but  be engaged in  charitable and social activities, especially in formal instructions    in schools, in teaching the faith and handing on various manual skills.  It was most important to him that children and adults should be taught  and instructed independent of their color of skin, race or religion.  This philosophy of life  was greatly annoying to the colonial government at that time.  Francis was especially interested in the training and education  of girls and women.

 In 1885 he therefore called women – first as mission helpers – from Germany to Africa.  This was the beginning of the  Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood.  Mother Paula Emunds, a woman who joined in the early days greatly shaped and influenced the group.  She very soon lead the young community and  implemented the visions of Abbot Francis Pfanner with her feminine intuition.  It was the expressed  will of the founder that the  sisters were meant for the mission. 

Together with the name  “Missionary  Sisters of the Precious Blood”,  he gave them the mandate  to show to the people something of the human,  compassionate and redeeming love of Christ and to be his witnesses through a life of joy, hope and reconciliation.

The conviction “Our mission territory is the kingdom of God and that has no boundaries “  shaped both Abbot Francis Pfanner and the fast growing  young community.  In South  Africa  as  well as in Europe  more and more missions   were started.

 At present about 900 sisters are working in more than 90 mission stations all over the world.  We live and work in many countries in Africa, as well as the United States and Canada, In Papua New Guinea, in Germany, Denmark, Italy, Netherland, Austria, Portugal and Korea.  Wherever we are, as missionaries we strive to make tangible the love of God which we ourselves experience, a love which is the wellspring of our life.  We do this particularly in the field of education and health care, in social welfare, in areas of domestic and agricultural work, in the wide field of pastoral care, through art and craft, and by fostering mission awareness.

“The Spirit which I want to foster in my sisters is a spirit of friendliness and cheerfulness”  (Abbot Francis Pfanner)

Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood
Founder and Co-Foundress

“Our mission territory is the Kingdom of God and that has no boundaries”.  Francis Pfanner

 Abbot Francis Pfanner the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, was born in Austria in 1865 and baptized by the name of Wendelin. He became a priest and served in the diocesan ministry for thirteen years but after developing a serious lung condition, he decided at the age of 38, to spend the remainder of his life in prayer and penance as a Trappist monk. Given the name “Francis” in the monastery, his leadership qualities were soon recognized, and in 1869, despite much opposition, he established a new monastery called Mariastern, in Bosnia.  His heart was aflame with love of the Church and at the invitation of a missionary bishop, he and thirty of his monks, ventured into the unknown in 1880 and founded the Mariannhill Monastery in Natal, South   Africa, in 1882. He soon became aware of the need to educate and support the local women and children in Africa. He invited women from Europe to volunteer their services for this task. Five courageous volunteers responded to his call and were introduced to Mariannhill on the birthday of Our Blessed Mother, September 8 1885. Working and praying together they realized that God was calling them to live together as a religious community.  Abbot Francis guided, challenged and led them in becoming a church approved congregation – the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood.  He died in South Africa in 1909 knowing that the Missionary Sisters were well established and serving those in need.

 “Lord, make us women to match your mountains, rich in the gold of love, conviction strong and high, grounded in the rock of common sense. And please, dear God, a twinkle in our eyes”. – Mother Paula -

 Mother Paula Emunds named Josephine at her birth in 1865, was among the first women from Germany who followed the Founder’s call to Mariannhill.  She arrived in South Africa in late 1886. Her deeply committed religious and missionary spirit combined with her natural leadership qualities led her to becoming appointed superior of the Sisters’ community.  Alive with Abbot Francis’s vision and guided by him, she trained and inspired new Sisters.  When there was a need to establish a Convent in Germany, she was sent back and recruited new missionary Sisters and guided the development of the Congregation from there. In 1906 she was elected superior general and consolidated the missionary activities of the sisters from the new international Motherhouse in the Netherlands. The Congregation continued to expand to many countries and Mother Paula kept in touch with the Sisters by visiting and corresponding with them, an arduous and time consuming task at this time in history.  Above all, she passed on the Founder’s spirit to them and nurtured this in the young Congregation. She died a saintly death at the Motherhouse in 1948.  Mother Paula is honoured as the co-foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood.