Steyl (NL): Pink Sisters

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She is intrigued by the praying Pink Sister behind the elegant metal fence, but the absolute silence also intimidates her. The atmosphere in the chapel makes her both curious and anxious. And because grandma has taught her that you shouldn’t avoid what you are afraid of, she always wants to visit. Every time she wonders if they are not Muslim – because of the veil and the fact that they are kneeling and praying. She tiptoes towards the fence to see the other sisters around the corner, to disappear from their view again very quickly. But when she sits down on the bench for a moment, her curiosity wins and she leans far back to catch another glimpse of the whole event ….

The Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration are nicknamed after the colour of their habits: the Pink Sisters. Together with the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, the Blue Sisters, and the male missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), they form an interconnected chain of Roman Catholic congregations founded by Arnold Janssen in the late 19th century. While the missionaries are described – on their own website – as pastors, catechists, educators, experts in communications, formators, professionals, agriculturists, researchers and scholars, architects, doctors and social consultants, the Pink Sisters devote their lives to perpetual prayer. The do so in silence and within the confinement of their cloister. On the 1st of September 2019 there was a rare opportunity to visit the sisters and ask questions. The two sessions on Sunday afternoon were booked out completely, the room was packed with curious people like me.

Today it was possible to visit  the “pink sisters” (Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Worship). And as they usually live in their own cloistered world, not open to us, this was a unique event. Two sisters gave insight into their daily life and worries. Worries about elections in Germany that day and a potentially devastating hurricane. They  talked about the little party they had last night, about funerals, cycling in the garden, and about sometimes ‘having to’ go outside to visit a doctor. I truly liked their frankness and found their cheerful presence in combination with their choice for this rather radical way of living in continuous prayer and surrender, quite impressive. It is hardly how I could and would want to live, but I could only admire their cheerful (com)passion and the way they stand for their way of living

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