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Our Saints: Fr. Janssen and Fr. Freinademetz

Saint Arnold Janssen

Saint ArnoldArnold Janssen, a German diocesan priest, founded the Society of the Divine Word in 1875, the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters in 1889, and the Holy Spirit Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in 1896. The mission of the priests and Brothers of the Society of the Divine Word and the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters is to proclaim the Gospel where it has not yet been heard or has not been proclaimed adequately. The mission of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration is prayerful support for the missionaries.

Saint Arnold Janssen is a shining and fitting model for the people of our times, especially for the people involved in proclaiming and witnessing the Good News that God loves his people and desires life to the full for all. One hundred years ago, Arnold showed himself as:

- a great promoter of mission involvement by the Church in Germany, and a zealous advocate of the reunion of separated Christians

- an ardent precursor of the Catholic Press Apostolate

- an indefatigable promoter of the Lay Apostolate

- a pioneer in making use of the social sciences (anthropology, linguistics) in the formation of his missionaries.

Arnold emphasized renewal and sharing in the mission of the Incarnate Word. He consecrated himself and the religious orders he founded to the Holy Spirit and lived out of a deep trust in God, the Compassionate Father. He took daring risks and opened new horizons for missionary work. In their joint petition to the Holy Father for his beatification, the bishops of Germany referred to the fact that this simple priest had become in an astonishing manner “The Father of many nations.”

Saint Joseph Freinademetz

 Saint JosephJoseph Freinademetz was born in South Tyrol (then part of Austria) in 1852. He joined the Society of the Divine Word in 1878. Blessed Arnold commissioned him to China in 1879. He worked in Hong Kong and South Shantung as a pioneer founder of new Christian communities. After 30 years of ministry in China, Joseph died of typhus he contracted while ministering to the sick.

Thomas Cardinal Tien SVD, who knew Joseph Freinademetz from his childhood in Shantung, gave a brief sketch of Joseph on the fiftieth anniversary of his death:

“All (Chinese) Christians considered Joseph to be a living saint…. He was always friendly, modest, humble. He spoke Chinese well. Whoever came with contact with him was deeply impressed and somehow drew comfort from his very presence. A catechist who hardly had a good word to say about the foreign missionaries said about Joseph: ‘Fu Shenfu is a saint. He is different from all the others.’ “

“While I (Cardinal Tien) was a seminarian, I noticed in church how Joseph always knelt in the sanctuary. It was a powerful experience to see him in prayer before the tabernacle. Other missionaries were no less zealous than he was, but for us Chinese, their manner was somewhat too aggressive and often too inconsiderate. This was not the case with Joseph. He was always available to others and sacrificed himself for them to the utmost limit of self-forgetfulness. His piety was natural and attractive. He always remained his friendly self. He was indeed a perfect man.”

The Decree on the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God quotes the mission encyclical Ad Gentes: "The missionary must be ready to stand by his vacation all his life and renounce himself and all those whom he thus far considered as his own and instead to become all things to all peoples.” (A.G.4:24) The decree goes on to say: “The servant of God, Joseph Freinademetz, realized all this totally and perfectly.”

“I am more Chinese than Tyolese, and I want to be Chinese in heaven also.” – St. Joseph Freinademetz

Today, more than 6,000 priests and Brothers of the Society of the Divine Word serve in 75 countries; 3,800 Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters serve in 42 countries; and 400 Holy Spirit Sisters of Perpetual Adoration serve in 8 countries. With a combined membership of more than 10,000 missionaries around the world, we live in multicultural communities ministering in evangelization, social justice, pastoral work, education, health care and communications.

Ways to Help...
Becoming a missionary is a challenging and lengthy process. Help us shape and qualify our future missionaries

The compassion of a family is exemplified in observing how the children care for their aging parents. Help us take care of our aging missionaries

The majority of our worldwide philanthropic projects are among the poor and destitute. Join our efforts now