Gallneukirchen – celebrating 150 years

May 2024
Celebrations were held for the 150th anniversary of the Gallneukirchen Diaconal Institution, with about 700 people present. The Kaiserswerther General Conference (KGK) brought a greeting. The Kaiserswerth Generalkonferenz is an association of more than 100 deaconess houses, diaconal communities and diaconal divisions from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. With 4000 employees, and 170 institutions, Diakoniewerk Gallneukirchen is the biggest diaconal employer in Austria.

Diakonie Rector Astrid Körner: “The care of children who lived in poverty and who had no chance of an education began here back in 1873. Diaconia began with the need and misery of children”.

Pastor Ernst Schwarz and Countess Elvine de La Tour were friends and followed the same religious tradition. They were social pioneers and founded the Gallneukirchen Diaconal Institution in 1873. The Countess was particularly interested in girls, as they were the poorest of the poor. Education was a key to lifting themselves out of poverty.

“At that time, need was alleviated out of faith. Countess Elvine de La Tour used her entire fortune for this,” says Körner.

A year later, in 1874, the Association for Inner Mission was founded in Gallneukirchen in Upper Austria by Schwarz’s brother Ludwig.

139 years ago, the first children’s sanatorium was opened in Waiern near Feldkirchen, the first hospital and convalescent home. There were facilities for infants and children as well as a “lying-in asylum” for elderly people in need of care and for people with disabilities.

Today, Diakonie employs 2,500+ people in four federal states. The largest location is Carinthia, where 85 homes are operated and 1300 people are employed.

“The focus is always on people, everyone has a right to a dignified life,” says Körner.

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