November 3rd 1842 Saint Maurice, a rural suburb of Münster, Germany Edward Michelis, a young 29 years old priest A little home got ready just in time for a great idea Twenty little orphan girls and four woman educators That´s the scenery!
It needs eyes for seeing. It needs a heart for feeling. Edward Michelis saw the suffering situation of many orphan children, mostly girls, in the surroundings of his native city. (That was certainly not a situation restricted to Münster, and orphanages were usual and necessary institutions at those difficult times, when even many mothers died at birth giving. But the traditional home for orphans in Münster would accept only children from better situated families.) What the priest´s eyes saw and his heart could feel was the abandonment of many poor orphan girls, unprotected and even more often exploited as child labour.
Who sees, and feels, is impelled to work. If you cannot do it by yourself, it may become the beginning of a much greater work. Befriended priests join the idea. More people get involved.
Ideas turn into action, and the small home, simple and practical, get prepared.
Ideas turn into ideals. Four young women dare to assume the risk of a new beginning: twenty orphans find a home.
And the enlarged scenery: Our Congregation of Divine Providence is born on that 3rd of November 1842 in Münster/Germany.
Horizons get widened. The number of Sisters rises up. Needs are seen everywhere. With the blessings of Divine Providence the fields of action of the Congregation get wider: educational activities, pastoral engagement, missionary initiatives, charitable and social works, hospitals ... a great diversity of faces and appeals.
Breaking off the German borders, the Congregation is at this time present in four continents:
Europe: In the year of 1876 the Sisters crossed the borders of the neighboring Netherlands because of the effects of the “Kulturkampf” which was somehow ruling in Germany. Today there are about 250 Sisters living in Europe both in the German Province and in the Dutch Community.
America: German Sisters crossed the Atlantic in 1895 starting a new beginning in Brazil, where there are 540 Sisters living today, distributed among four Provinces and one Region; Brazilian Sisters are also active in Paraguay and Bolivia, as well as in Mozambique/Centralafrica.
Asia: In 1934, the Dutch Province sent the first Sisters to Indonesia, where there are presently 100 Sisters; some of them are also living in three communities in West Timor.
Africa: In 1960 the Congregation started a mission in Malawi /Centralafrica. 38 Sisters are living there at this time.
Reality of today: The Congregation sums presently 928 Sisters and 12 Postulants distributed among six Provinces, two Regions and one Community related to the Generalate.