A brief description.
Arenberg (also spelled as Aremberg or Ahremberg) is a historic duchy, located in nowadays Germany. First mentioned in the 12th century, it was named after the village Aremberg in the actual district of Ahrweiler, in the Rhineland-Palatinate. The territorial possessions of the dukes of Arenberg varied through the ages. Around 1789 the duchy was located in the Eifel region on the west side of the Rhine, and contained amongst others Aremberg, Schleiden and Kerpen. However, although the Duchy itself was in Germany, from the 15th century on, the principal lands of the Dukes of Arenberg have been in modern day Belgium. Aremberg was originally a County, being raised to a Principality in 1576, and a Duchy in 1645.
After the French occupation of the west bank of the Rhine around 1798 (see Treaty of Campo Formio and Treaty of Lunéville) the duke of Arenberg received new lands around Recklinghausen, Meppen and Dülmen. Aremberg joined Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine, with France annexing Dülmen and Meppen, and the duchy of Berg annexing Recklinghausen. After Napoleon's defeat in 1814 and the dissolution of the Confederation of the Rhine the former Arenberg territories were divided between the Kingdoms of Prussia and Hanover. The Dukes of Arenberg remain a prominent Belgian aristocratic family.
Johann Baptist Kraus was a vicar in Arenberg from 1834 till 1893. In 1864 he built a church and in 1865 a priory or monastery in his parish. But it was not easy to find an Order or Congregation that would come to Arenberg. Then Vicar Kraus heard that in the monastery Saint Peter in Schwyz the Dominican sisters were interested. Two Domincan Sisters, among them (Cherubine) Josephine Williman, O.P. came to Arenberg to start there the religious life in 1868. Three young ladies of Arenberg joined the group.
The French-German war of 1870 forced the departure of the sisters from Switzerland and Rheinland, and there remained one Dominican sister in the convent. But on 3 February 1871 sister Willimann returned to Arenberg, and the French sister Gundisalva Gottfring from Lyon, driven by the war to Luxemburg, joined the group. She was the oldest and appointed as the leader.
The Kulturkampf (1872-1879) was a new threat. The convent of Arenberg was allowed to stay but it was forbidden to accept new sisters. Therefore the leading sister Gottfring founded a new convent in the Netherlands to open a novitiate. But they decided to stay there and formed a monastery.
The heroic perserverance of sister Williman
saved the convent on 19 Mai 1885. With support of the Bishop of Trier, Matthias
Wehr, the community expanded in persons and buildings.
1887: a new convent in Moselweiss and a boarding school for girls in Arenberg.
1889: foundations in Berlin and Oberhausen.
1890: the congregation took over hospitals, orphanages in Köln, Düsseldorf-Heerdt, Eberfeldt and Remscheid, and helped social support in the parishes.
From 1899 till 1911 prelate Kinn, founder of the Caritas Organisation of 'Landkrankepflege', was the rector of Arenberg and he interested the sisters in his work.
Sister Willimann died 18 December 1914 and was buried in the chapel of the cemetery of the convent.
Her successor Maria Paula Birnbach brought the Congregation through WO I till she died on 30 April 1921.
The chapter voted for Thomasia Kückhoven. In 1923 the Congregation took over the 'Oberlyceum' and the college for 'Kindergarten teacher' in Euskirchen, and in 1925 a children's home in Des Moines (USA).
WO II caused havoc among hospitals, monasteries. 57 Sisters were killed in the war.
After the death of sister Thomasia (1946) the chapter elected Maria Gratia Störmann as the General prioress on 29 July 1946, and she embarked on the reconstruction.
10 November 1963: Five sisters went to Bolivia to work with the German Dominicans in the region of Comarapa.
2 February 1967: Bolivian girls joined the Congregation.
Sources: Mgr Dr Gladel. Mutterhaus
Arenberg. Trier, 1960.
NN. Dominikanerinnen von Arenberg 1868-1968. Limburg a/d/ Lahn, 1968.
Germany 1993. Postmark Koblenz
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