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Schoenstatt
Apostolic Movement

“Angels in the Hour of Need”, 100 people are welcomed at Maria Rast

By: Manfred Görgen

The demolition of a railway bridge over the Erft River between Kreuzweingarten and Kirspenich by a team of the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) after the recent flooding disaster was scheduled for Sunday, August 1, 2021. Two thousand people had to be evacuated as a precaution. It was actually planned as a routine operation, but things turned out differently and became a test of patience for many people in this region, with several explosions lasting the whole day.

“Angels in the hour of need”. The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary transformed their center into an evacuation center for a day.

The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in Maria Rast, near Euskirchen, were asked to take in 100 people on Sunday. Of course, the Sisters of the Maria Rast Schoenstatt Center were ready to cooperate with the local rescue services, the Maltese Relief Service, the Technical Relief Agency and the Euskirchen fire department. Shortly after 8 a.m. on Sunday, the first people, some of them bedridden, arrived at Maria Rast as emergency evacuees with bare essentials. The Sisters of Maria Rast proved to be very good hosts and “angels in the hour of need”.

The chapel bell rings instead of the “all clear” signal.

Once again, Maria Rast more than lived up to its name, especially since the demolition turned out to be much more difficult than expected and, as a result, people had to wait for about nine hours. It was not until late Sunday afternoon that the dull rumble of the explosion could be heard as far away as Maria Rast. Afterwards, however, the usual “all clear” signal was not heard, but in Maria Rast, Sr. M. Dagmara, who is responsible for the house, rang the Schoenstatt Chapel’s bell herself with the participation of the 150 people present. Then, after more than nine long hours of waiting, all the evacuees were able to return home, some of them in special buses.

Schoenstatt Chapel, a good place to pray

Of course, many people also took the opportunity to light candles and pray to the Blessed Mother and to God during the waiting time, which lasted more than nine hours. The Schoenstatt Chapel is a good place for this. This was experienced by those who are already regular guests of Maria Rast as well as by those who were there for the first time.

During the long waiting time, the Maltese staff took care of our physical well-being. There were drinks and lots of sweets, and for lunch there was a delicious pea soup. And when Chaplain Winkler from Euskirchen realized that the cake offered at Maria Rast had run out, he went to a pastry shop in Euskirchen to buy some more.

An elderly couple was also delighted with the Sisters of Mary. “We came from Rheinbach, we have lost our belongings and now we surely have to stay here for a few weeks, but with pleasure. We feel very comfortable because of the good care and because my husband and I still have each other and hold each other more firmly than before, even in our old age.”

Gratitude for the “angels in the hour of need”

At the end, there was mutual gratitude: not only the sisters, but also their parish priests, Father Groß from Maria Rast and Chaplain Winkler from Euskirchen, expressed their gratitude for the great camaraderie. The emergency services, the Maltese Relief Service, the Technical Relief Agency, and the operations center of the Euskirchen fire department also expressed their thanks with an applause.

Special thanks from all evacuees and emergency services went, naturally, to all the tireless sisters. They have spontaneously shown themselves to be good hosts and sensitive listeners. Thus, the long waiting time during the day was not as long for many.

A 19-year-old from Euskirchen who has just finished high school and has started a social year with Maltese in the rescue service, was overwhelmed by so much help and also by the gratitude from everyone.

For a long time, the Coronavirus has contributed to us being quite estranged from each other, now the need of many people has brought back the community and the sense of closeness bringing people together again, especially in such a beautiful place as Maria Rast!

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