Introduction OF SR. HEDVIKA PUNTAR
Some years ago, at the request of the Major Superiors, I wrote the memories of my religious life, stressing in particular Mother Lidvina Purgaj. She was instrumental in providing the new Constitution for the Congregation of School Sisters whose Motherhouse was at Maribor. She also was concerned with forwarding to Rome a petition that sought juridical recognition of our Congregation as a Pontifical Institute. Since its origin it had been a Diocesan Institute.1
The superiors and sisters, having received my writings with interest, expressed their desire that the memories about the foundress and first Superior General of our Congregation, Mother Margareta Puhar, also be saved from oblivion. They suggested that I undertake this work. When they finally convinced me to do so, I began to gather material. The period in question2 began with the sisters’ arrival in Maribor from Algersdorf to minister at the orphanage directed by the Association of Catholic Women which was founded by Anton Martin Slomsek, Bishop of Lavant.
Organizing the research was not without its difficulties. In doing memoirs on Mother Lidvina I had the advantage of knowing her personally. I had lived with Mother Lidvina at both Maribor and Ljubljana from 1916 until 1925. I still have vivid firsthand memories of those days. It was not the same with the memories of Mother Margareta Puhar. The things that happened in the early period were experiences of the first generation of sisters who had lived with her, and of the sisters who had made their novitiate under her direction.
When I entered the convent, some of the sisters of that generation were still alive. I don’t remember all their names, but I do recall how they were. Those elderly sisters were good religious and such an example for us younger ones. They came from the school of the foundress, Mother Margareta Puhar. Everything that these “our Mothers” recounted to us from their experiences filled us with enthusiasm, stirred our interest, and was well worth remembering.
It is obvious that this treasury of memories passed on by the sisters from Mother Margareta’s time was for me the most valid and authentic source of these memoirs. I will cite only some of their names3: Mother Angelina Krizanic, Sr. Regina Gosak, Mother Lidvina Purgaj, Mother Stanislava Voh, Sr. Felicita Kalinsek, Sr. Scolastica Zurman, the Neuwirth sisters (three sisters and an aunt), of whom Sr. Gertruda Neuwirth was at Repnje together with Sr. Nepomucena Ziggal.
Sr. Fabijana Neuwirth, my Superior for three years, related many things to me on various occasions about Sr. Margareta Puhar. These spiritual followers of the Mother Foundress told these things to us. There are many other sisters whom I will mention,4 but the most important memories recounted to the sisters about Mother Margareta are those of Sr. Nepomucena Ziggal.
Sr. Nepomucena was born in Tyrol and was a teacher at Algersdorf.5 Later this sister freely decided to leave the Motherhouse at Algersdorf and enter the new Congregation founded by Mother Margareta Puhar at Maribor under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Lavanthal. Sr. Nepomucena continued her activity as a teacher at Maribor, at Celje, at Repnje; for a time she was even at St. Paul in Carinthia. From 1881 to 1887 she was also the Superior General.
Sr. Nepomucena had many opportunities to meet with and encounter the sisters of the younger generation who were entering the new Congregation of the School Sisters of Maribor. Although Sr. Nepomucena was of German etnicity, she loved the company of the Slovenian Sisters and learned the Slovenian language well. Mother Angelina Krizanic states that Sr. Nepomucena did very well with the economic affairs of the Congregation and was an excellent councillor to Sr. Margareta Puhar. Faithful and religiously united to her superior, she too experienced all the events connected with the separation from the Community at Algersdorf, and the foundation of the new religious Congregation of the School Sisters in Maribor.
Most of the memories I have tried to write down come from these sources. However, I will also use memories of other sisters not mentioned above.
Brezje, March 3, 1992
Sr. Hedvika Puntar
1. Translator’s note: The “new communities with simple vows,” many of whom were founded in the 18th and 19th centuries were called “Regular” religious if they were under the auspices of an Order regarding the living of their Rule, Statutes and daily religious life. Many of the Congregations founded, however, were only under the Bishop’s direction. These communities did not have the same “rights” as the “Regular” communities. It was not until 1901 that the Holy See established juridical norms that opened up the possibility to these communities of being considered Regular religious. (Ordeniemiento, p.95 Santos, 1998, Rome Italy)
2. Translator’s note: the period from 1864 – 1901.
3. Translator’s note: Sr. Nepomucena Ziggal was one of the young sisters who together with Sr. Margareta left the Graz Congregation in 1869. Several of the other sisters mentioned had Sr. Margareta as their novice directress. The number in parentheses indicates the year of novitiate: Mother Nepomucena Ziggal (1865), Mother Angelina Krizanic (1873), Sr. Brigita Neuwirth (1874), Mother Stanislava Voh (1878), Mother Lidvina Purgaj (1879), Sr. Scolastika Zurman (1881), Sr. Gertruda Neuwirth (1882), Sr. Felicita Kalinsek (1892), Sr. Sebastian Neuwirth (1893 -Sr. Sebastian came to the USA and was the first provincial superior in Lemont), Sr. Regina Gosak (1893), Sr. Fabijana Neuwirth (1897).