After the Second World War, Catholic expellees and refugees founded the registered St. Hedwig's Association of the Archdiocese of Paderborn, including the residential education centre St. Hedwig's House, which was then situated in a charming antiquated former restaurant in Oerlinghausen. It was then bought by the St. Hedwigs Association and after intensive reconstruction work the house was inaugurated on 11 April 1955 by the former Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn, Dr. Franz Hengsbach. In 1956 St. Hedwig's House was recognized by the Ministry of Education of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia as an residential adult education centre.
Example of Christian charity
Saint Hedwig of Silesia is the name giver and protective patroness of St. Hedwig's House. She was born in 1174 in Andechs at the lake Ammer in Bavaria and educated in the monastery of the Benedictine nuns of Kitzingen. In 1186 she was married to Henry I, the duke of Silesia. Both of them supported the deepening of the Christian faith and cultural development in Silesia. She died in 1243 in the monastery of Trebnitz in Silesia. Hedwig is regarded as the example of Christian charity.
Until the 1970s the main focus of the work of the residential education centre St. Hedwig's House was the support of the refugees, repatriates and displaced people (expellees) from the countries of Central Europe, especially from Poland / Upper Silesia and Romania. Since the end of the 1980s, when the migration movements changed and large numbers of ethnic German immigrants, i.e. the new citizens from the countries of the former Soviet Union came to Germany, the focus of our work changed and concentrated on the group of ethnic German immigrants and other Russian-speaking migrants. The educational work in Oerlinghausen has led to the reconciliation and the development of good relations with other countries, e.g. with Poland.
International encounter and understanding
Since 2001 the St. Hedwig's House has participated in many projects with partners from different European countries and thereby contributed to the international encounter and understanding. José Manuel Barroso, the former President of the European Commission, praised this important work of the House during his visit to Oerlinghausen in 2012.
At the end of 2014, the house at the Hermann Street in Oerlinghausen, which was so popular among the participants, had to be temporarily shut down for the necessary, extensive renovation work. Since then, our residential education centre St. Hedwig's House has been operating as a "travelling academy" in various education institutions in Oerlinghausen and the surrounding area.