Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sister Parish visits - Dortmund 1983-1997

Mary with Child, Master of the Fröndenberger Altars: central panel of Fröndenberg Altar, circa 1400
Between 1983 and 1997, parishioners of St. Benedict's Parish and St. Marien's Parish in Dortmund-Solde, Germany, exchanged numerous visits. This was a natural extension of the Sister City program between Dortmund and Buffalo that had its roots right here in Eggertsville.

Here is what the City of Buffalo's website says about the origins of Dortmund-Buffalo Sister City Program:

The origins of the Buffalo-Dortmund Sister City relationship can be traced back to 1972. A Dortmund native, Herbert Morgenroth, arrived in Buffalo as an exchange teacher at the University of Buffalo under the auspices of the Carl Duisberg Society, a German exchange program. Morgenroth was struck by the similarities between our City of Buffalo and his home town of Dortmund. It is about the same size as Buffalo and its suburbs, is the site of the most famous steel company in Europe and is famous for its beer production. So struck was he by the possibilities of Sister City relationship that he undertook to "talk it up". Morgenroth was living on LeBrun Street near the University Campus and an Eggertsville resident, Mr. John E. Ward, then principal of Genesee-Humboldt Junior High School, heard of Morgenroth's idea. The idea caught on with Ward and by 1974, he, Morgenroth and others broached the idea with Honorary German Consul in Buffalo, Mrs. Nathan "Brix" Barrell. In February of that year, their idea was formally presented to Mayor Stanley Makowski and the program was on its way.

Some of the St. Benedict's Parishioners who visited St. Marien's have remained in touch with parishioners there and continue to receive updates from our sister parish.

A copy of the painting above was a gift from St. Marien Parishioners.  Their gift hangs in our Marian side altar niche.  The original Frondenberg "Mary and Child" used to be part of the altar in the Cistercian Monastery in Frondenberg, about 15 miles from Dortmund.  That altar was destroyed in 1776, but this central panel, along with a few other pieces, survived.  The original is now on display in the Dortmund Art Museum.

Other signs of our Sister Parish program include a plaque in our vestibule to commemorate the first visit of our St. Marien friends to St. Benedict's in 1983.  It is a woodcarving of Mary with an inscription.