(Wittem, The Nederlands) On Tuesday, June 16, the community of Wittem celebrated the 250th anniversary of the consecration of the church of the monastery. This church was built in 1732 by the German Count of Plettenberg and during the first century, Capuchin monks lived and worked in the monastery and church.
In 1836, the Redemptorists established their international seminary in Wittem. The seminary in Sint-Truiden had become too small for the growing congregation. In these early years, men from at least ten different countries studied here; some of them were the pioneers and ‘founding fathers’ of new communities all over the world.
The fact that the consecration of the church happened only 38 years after the foundation, was due to a dispute with the then bishop of Liège. Because of the corona pandemic, the anniversary was celebrated in a very modest way with a Eucharist for a small group and the premiere of a 12-minute video about the history of the monastery church, the monument for Cardinal Willem van Rossum and the special paintings on the walls and ceilings.
A small mixed community currently lives in the Wittem monastery, consisting of three Redemptorists, a sister of the Good Shepherd, and a lay couple. The entire monastery complex has been sold recently. In 2018, the decision to sell the premises was taken, because the burden of operation and maintenance of the complex was becoming too heavy. After the sale, the community continues living in a part of the monastery and continues the pastoral work in the nationally known shrine for St. Gerard Majella and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Other parts of the complex will become available for apartments for vital elderly and there will be a new operator for the imposing Library as a cultural center. The monastery of Wittem is also the see of the Province of St. Clement.
Jelle Wind, secretary of the Province of St. Clement