Left, a Mother Brunner statue carved by Sister Eileen Tomlinson; middle, Sister Dorothy Schmitmeyer, Bela Mis and Sister Pat Dieringer after the prayer service; right, Sister Berenice Janszen.
Bread is a staple of life, but bread was also at the center of a celebration for the 179th anniversary of Mother Maria Anna Brunner’s entrance into heaven. The event was held at Salem Heights on Jan. 14, the eve of Mother Brunner’s death date. Maria Anna Brunner is the foundress of the Sisters of the Precious Blood.
Through a reading of John 6:1-15 — the story of Jesus feeding a crowd with two fish and five loaves — to a blessing of many breads, more than 40 Sisters recalled Mother Brunner’s zeal for bread — from her devotion to the Bread of the Eucharist to the homemade loaves she often gave to the poor in Switzerland.
“Bread symbolized this woman, who was bread for others,” Sister Maryann Bremke said during the celebration. “For our Maria Anna, the separation of Eucharistic Bread from that of the bread served to the poor was an anomaly.”
In recognition of the many who are suffering and lost, different types of bread were placed in a centerpiece basket. Each type represented a certain group, including laborers, healers, women who have gone before us with a hunger for the power to make a difference, ones who live in fear, the mentally ill and those stigmatized by stereotypes, the elderly, the enslaved and mothers, teachers and role models.
Following the service Sisters socialized by sampling the various breads, showing their solidarity with those for whom they had prayed.
The following day Sisters and employees at Salem Heights joined together for a special meal in honor of Mother Brunner on the anniversary.
Story and photos by Dave Eck