We call ourselves Sisters of Mary because that is what we want to be, sisters of the Mother of Christ. In imitation of Mary we want to be Christ-bearers and Christ-bringers for our modern world. Mary is our great example of what a woman can and should be. The more we become like her, the more we can help women to live up to their dignity and calling and to discover the true role of women in the church and world today. As an international community we work in South Africa, in African countries as well as in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.
We are a Secular Institute which means we have the special task of being in the world, but not of the world, of living a consecrated life in the world without becoming worldly. The sisters may take up any profession open to women. According to the needs of the apostolate some work and live alone, while others live in community. The aim is always to consecrate the world by living as consecrated women, dedicated apostles
Our community was founded on 1st October 1926 by Father Joseph Kentenich at Schoenstatt near Vallandar on the Rhine in Germany. At that time a group of twenty seven young women offered to work full-time for the Schoenstatt Movement, an apostolic lay movement for the spiritual and moral renewal of the world in Christ. Today we have members spread throughout the world. Our Motherhouse is situated on Mount Schoenstatt in Germany near the church of the Blessed Trinity which is our founder's last resting place. His cause for beatification has been opened. The provincial house in South Africa is located in Cape Town.
We live as a family. Father Kentenich showed Our Lady not only as the great helpmate and associate of her Son, but also as the Mother who has the power to educate and form Christ-like people. For us, therefore, she is more than a model - she is our Mother who guides and directs us in the apostolate. She unites us in a family-like community where the members love and support one another and live in a genuine togetherness. In our homeless and uprooted times the fostering of this family spirit is both a safeguard and a task.
We work in many professions. Some take up secular posts in public life, e.g. teaching in universities and schools, nursing and social work. Others work as parish sisters, catechists and missionaries. Some sisters work for the Schoenstatt Movement by training lay leaders, conducting groups for families, mothers, single women, youth and children. We have sisters who lead a contemplative life of perpetual adoration. Their task is to counterbalance the active life of those involved in the apostolate, making it fruitful by their prayers and sacrifices.
Our spirituality and whole way of life is rooted in the covenant of love which our Founder and his followers made with the Mother of God at the start of the Schoenstatt Movement in 1914. We draw our strength from our spiritual powerhouse the Shrine of Our Lady of Schoenstatt. There Mary is active today as the great motherly educator who forms and educates the modern day Christian. She uses us as her instruments to bring about a better world, a new Christian order of society, and to help form the new person in the new community.
The sisters need and receive a timely spiritual formation which equips us for our manifold tasks in the world. This training includes a two-year novitiate, two tertianships and other periods of spiritual formation. After eight-and-a half years we make our final promises of life-long virginity, obedience and poverty.
Our Institute expanded rapidly. In 1933, only seven years after the foundation our Founder took a daring step and sent, the first sisters from Germany to South Africa. Further foundations followed in South America, the United States, Australia, Asia, Scotland and Ireland. In Africa we work in South Africa, Burundi, Kenya and Nigeria.