Enthusiasm for evangelization is based on this conviction. We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love. (Evangelii Gaudium 265)

Although The Netherlands is often known to “outsiders” mainly as a land of tulips, wooden shoes and windmills, hers is a rich history and heritage. Though many may know of her history of commercial trade on the seas, less commonly known is her heritage of great Catholic missionaries. Earlier in her history, the Netherlands sent out thousands upon thousands of missionaries to foreign lands (including the United States), and many of her unsung saints founded churches and converted nations. Visitors to The Netherlands, particularly in the south province of Limburg, are immediately struck by the Catholic sights, sounds, and traditions, such as town processions in honor of local saints or pilgrimages to Marian shrines, still held annually.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia were invited by the local bishop to serve in the Diocese of Roermond in 2014. They arrived in August of that year to accept a role in the mission of New Evangelization within the Diocese. Although the sisters participate in nation-wide and diocesan-wide events and initiatives for youth and young adults (such as the annual Catholic youth day, young religious events, and weekends for young adults and families), they work primarily in and around Sittard, a small town on the border of Germany and close to the border of Belgium. In Sittard and her surrounding towns, the sisters teach in a variety of settings: giving catechesis to elementary school children preparing for First Communion and Confirmation at local schools; teaching as guest-speakers about religious life and their work in the Netherlands; giving catechesis to children at a weekly children’s club; hosting groups for Bible sharing and faith sharing for high school students, young adults, and young parents, as well as parish leaders. They also tutor high school students in English and serve at the local high school in the English and honors program. The sisters help with the preparation of parents for their children’s Baptism, and they participate in committees for catechesis in Sittard as well as for the newly-forming Catholic school initiatives in the Netherlands. The sisters also host afternoon retreats for First Communion children, Confirmation students, and Days of Reflection for young adults.

During their first year in the Netherlands, the sisters were busy continuing to learn the language and becoming accustomed to the culture, meeting many people in Sittard and the surroundings, and preparing for language exams and (Dutch) driving exams, as well as completing the process for becoming residents. After successfully passing all exams and completing the residency process, the sisters also began the process of having their teaching licenses recognized by the Dutch government. All of these things will allow them to teach in schools in the Netherlands.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside other religious, priests, and laity who are planning new initiatives for evangelizing among youth and young adults in the Netherlands. It is truly God’s work and the sisters watch daily for his working in the lives of those whom they are blessed to serve.

For more information about retreats or other events in hosted by our sisters in The Netherlands, click here or email nederland@op-tn.org.