Our countdown has been counting down to the 200th birthday of Mother Henri Dominique, "Mother Foundress". Actually, we were founded by a man, the Dominican Father Lataste. We also venerate him, of course, he has also been beatified in the meantime, but as a women's congregation, the woman at his side is at least as important to us. Mother Henri Dominique was much older than Father Lataste, already over 40 when they met. Although she was immediately enthusiastic about his idea of Bethany, it took her a while to really understand what he had in mind.
She thought Bethany should be a place where poor, "fallen girls" were helped, where they were given a home and support. But he wanted a place where women who had been guilty could live with other women as equal sisters after serving their sentences. There should no longer be any noticeable difference between them. This idea frightened Mother Henri Dominique at first, as did the realization that Bethany did not even exist yet, that she was to help build it. She had to think about it first. Once she accepted, she put her heart and soul into it. Father Lataste only lived to be 36 years old and was therefore only able to contribute to Bethany for three years. Mother Henri Dominique, on the other hand, built up and shaped the Congregation for over 40 years, until she died in 1907 at the age of 85. That is why we rightly call her "Mother Foundress".
On her grave is written: "Mercy grew with her," an important motif for us. Our lives have changed a lot in the last 160 years, of course, but the central principles still apply. We live entirely out of mercy, the mercy of God. And because God is so merciful (warm-hearted), we also want to be so. We want - if at all possible - to give every person a new chance, because we firmly believe that God does that too. That is why we believe in the future, always and for everyone. Of course, we come to limits with this, but even then we hope in the boundless mercy of God.
When we go to Catholic Days, we often have with us a figure that from one side looks like a convict, bound in chains. If you turn it over, the same person is a religious sister: the miracle of Bethany: With God nothing is impossible.