When the risen Lord began building His Church, He asked a single question. Not, “Do you believe in Me?” but, “Do you love Me?” For us sisters and the small group of brothers who began joining us twenty years later, how we answer this question is central to our daily lives. Love cannot be conserved. Spending time with Jesus each day renews our spiritual passion.
Committing to a life of discipleship in a community like ours is definitely a challenge: a life of celibacy with no claim to personal property, income or further education. Our lifestyle runs counter to today’s consumerism and is no easy choice. But Jesus never changes. He still seeks our love. And He is the only one who can fulfil our deepest longings and give us a joy that no one can ever take from us. His forgiving love awakens our gratitude and rekindles the flame of our love whenever it is in danger of growing dim.
The Lord’s last prayer was that His followers would all be one (John 17:21), and our community was initially known as the Ecumenical Sisterhood of Mary. In 1947 this was quite unusual, as denominational barriers were still high and often prevented Christians from really getting to know and appreciate each other.
In later years, however, certain strands of the ecumenical movement shifted their focus away from Jesus and aimed at bringing different religions together. Our founding mothers changed our name to Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in order to avoid misconceptions concerning our standpoint.
We welcome current moves towards unity that bear the hallmark of the Cross of Jesus bringing us together.
Why we are called after Mary?
We’d like to give Mary her rightful place, the place the Bible gives her (Luke 1:48), and to see more Christians doing this. Mary was faithful to Jesus from His birth to His death on the Cross, because she loved Him. A legacy of her unconditional commitment and trusting obedience comes to us through her words, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5) – a challenge for us to follow.
Love for God is the key to all we do. Our aim is to glorify Him, to make Him known and to prepare the Bride of Jesus out of every nation for the day of His coming. That is the purpose of our lives.
For more on these topics, please click links below…
Sister Salome, Germany
I was eighteen when Jesus made Himself very real to me and I understood that He had sacrificed His life to set me free. From then on, a flame burned within me that nothing could put out. I constantly longed for MORE….
Sister Salvata, Australia
I was far away from God. Then one night, Jesus appeared to me. In his eyes I saw such love and mercy that I knew: Even if I was the only one that was lost, he still would have died to save me. He turned my life around, and from then on I only wanted to serve Him – and share with many others what He did for me.
After my first visit to Kanaan, my mind was made up. “I never want to be a Sister of Mary!” But God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He had another idea. I’m a practical person, so He spoke to me through practical things – e.g. when my favourite jeans wore out…
Sister Beryll, Singapore
I can say in one sentence what my calling means to me: It just means to have a close personal relationship with Jesus. That’s the most precious thing to me. To minister to Jesus – that is why I came from Singapore to Kanaan in Germany. And I have not regretted it!
Sister Damiana, Germany
I find our community life both deeply fulfilling and extremely challenging. If we didn’t all share the same vocation to love Jesus Christ, we would soon have to give up – we’re so totally different from each other! But we know that God loves us all just as we are and it’s His love that makes us capable of loving everyone else. Yet it doesn’t come automatically. We love through God’s grace – and a lot of effort on our own part.
Sister Eusebia, Germany – first generation of sisters
What does my calling mean to me? EVERYTHING! Since the day I came here in 1947 when the community first began, Kanaan has been my spiritual home. This is where I can serve and love God and where I can get to know Him better…
Sister Lukasia, Germany
A young woman stops me in Darmstadt’s bustling pedestrian zone. My clothing betrays my “lifestyle” and she simply can’t believe that I’m happy! She notes too that I’m not exactly young, and couldn’t have joined the sisterhood just yesterday …
Sister Laurentia, Germany
Each of us has a story that is all her own – no two are the same. I had a fairly easy life until I was twenty and in training for my dream job. Then one day I made a serious mistake …
Sister Joela, Germany
Children occasionally have moments of insight, when they seem to catch a glimpse of what lies in the future. I remember my sister excitedly telling me that when she grew up, she would have four children. And I thought, “Well, that’s not my road to happiness!”…
Sister Adola from USA, working in Brazil
I was 25 and had everything I needed – a good job, a car and apartment, good
friends and loving parents . And yet there was a restlesseness in me….
Sister Clarita, Germany
The longer I’ve been a Sister of Mary here at Kanaan, the more I’m filled with a sense of awe. Why should God the Father and Jesus seek me out, desiring a personal relationship of love, even though I have often sought other things? But Jesus has never given up on me. He wants my company, to draw close to me and talk with me just like it says in Zechariah 2:10, “I am coming and will live among you.” For me this is unbelievable – positively amazing!
Sister Klothilde, The Netherlands
As a young person in the Netherlands, I was sometimes really unhappy. I was looking for something different from what I saw around me. I thought, all or nothing! If God really did something so amazing for love of me – …
Sister Sharon, Paraguay
When Jesus called me to follow Him as a Sister of Mary, it meant leaving behind my homeland and family in Paraguay and coming to Germany. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m deeply happy in my calling and if I had to decide again, I would definitely make the same decision.
Photos of our daily life at Kanaan
Sister while picking flowers
Sister with bicyle at garden work
Canaan, Jesu-Ruf-Chapel, Darmstadt
Garden work in the greenhouse
Sister working with books