Reactions to a remarkable nun’s story

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Media and Communications Office
In December’s issue of Melbourne Catholic magazine, we talked to Sr Francis Baum, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sr Francis celebrated her 60 years of services late last year and our December article uncovered her remarkable journey from being a refugee from Nazi Germany to becoming a religious sister. This week, we caught up with Sr Francis again.
Sr Francis was born in Berlin, Germany. Her father, Hermann, was a German Jew, who had fought in World War I but had now had been interred in a concentration camp because of his status as a Jew. Anneliese, Francis' mother, was a German Catholic. Both her parents had been architects in Berlin prior to the Second World War. Once Hermann's release from the concentration camp had been successfully organised, the entire family, including a young Francis, promptly left and fled Nazi Germany.
On arrival in Australia, they disembarked in Melbourne, where they were welcomed by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who brought them back to Mena House, which is where the Baum family was able to stay before accommodation could be found for them. It was this connection to the MSC sisters that has lasted Sr Francis a lifetime.
We caught up with Sr Francis again yesterday, to discuss what impact our article had had on her and on those around her. In particular, family and close friends, who knew her story, appreciated that the story of her passage through life and to her mission in West Heidelberg had finally been told. 
We learned from Francis too that other people reading her story, including priests,  were profoundly excited, and valued deeply that Melbourne Catholic had written about a religious sister in today’s world and told her fascinating story. Sr Francis said, ‘we nuns tend to think that nun’s stories have been written long ago, but really we are here today, in the here and now. We have not only a past but also a present and a future.'
Sr Francis also observed that many of her acquaintances also reached out to her to tell her they had no idea of her life narrative and her extraordinary journey, and were fascinated and inspired to read it. Many commented that the publication of her story stirred their own emotions and memories profoundly.

In a day when many religious sisters seem to be slowly disappearing, due to the ongoing problem of an aging population among many orders, highlighting their immense contribution to our communities and telling their stories is important and a powerful way to give thanks.
Sister Francis, we salute you! 
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