The first Servants of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters (SSpS) left Steyl, in The Netherlands, for England on the 15th May 1930. They were Sisters Benitia Huyens, Winifriede Sandiford, (who had returned to her country after 30 years), Laudarda Niermann and Fernande Gierse. The Mother General at that time, Columba Caspars, saw them off at the station in Venlo, near Steyl. Fr. Bermans, from the US, who was rector of the Divine Word Missionary (SVD) mission house in Hadzor, Staffordshire, England, had gone to Steyl to get brothers and sisters for England
In Hadzor, the sisters were in charge of the kitchen, the general up-keep of the house and also the chapel. When students entered Hadzor they constantly ran to the sisters whenever they needed something: a change of clothes after falling into the pond, relief for toothaches, headaches, treatment for cut fingers and the myriad other aches and pains that student flesh is heir to. Student numbers increased steadily to such an extent that the SVD needed our sisters’ room too. However, in the autumn of 1932 four more SSpS came to Hadzor. Now the sisters wanted to buy their own house. This did not happen until 1933.
Hadzor’s parish priest, Fr. Bierings SVD, the sisters and Sister Winifriede’s sister, Mrs Cross, were constantly looking for property for the sisters. After many disappointments they got, not a house, but a castle, Caverswall Castle. The Benedictines had lived there from 1811-1853. In church, the parish priest said to the children, “My dear children, we have been having Benediction every day this week as a preparation for Pentecost. This novena was for intentions and one of these was that the Castle might be occupied again, that sisters might come. Today, my joy is so great, I must tell you. You see those two good sisters in the church (all the children turned round to look at the sisters) – well they have come to live in the Castle. Now I want you all to thank our Lord here present in the Host. Look at the Host and say after me three times ‘Dear Jesus, here present in the Blessed Sacrament, I thank you. Dear Mother of God, I thank you.’” On the 1st June 1933, Fr. Bierings told the sisters he had bought the Castle for them. They left Hadzor on 27th June 1933. The Castle became their home and mission for the next 30 years.
Watch the video for more on our History here in England and Ireland….