Today Gymnich is part of the town of Erftstadt.
His mother, Katharina Kentenich, was the youngest of a number of children. Her parents, Anna Maria and Matthias Kentenich, owned the little house in which Joseph Kentenich was born, and he spent the first years of his life here.
His father, Matthias Köp, lived in Eggersheim, about 13 km distant from Gymnich. He had got to know Katharina Kentenich on a farm in Oberbolheim, where Matthias was manager and Katharina one of the domestic staff.
The house were he was born was sold by auction in 1910 and altered a number of times. Today we can only see its original state in a model set up in one of the renovated rooms. It was made using old plans of the house and memories of family members.
From the end of 1891 until the second half of 1892 Joseph moved with his mother to Strassburg. She worked there as housekeeper to her elder brother, Peter Joseph, after his wife’s death on 25 December 1891. The boy attended a school there for a few months. After Peter Joseph re-married on 25 June1892, the two returned to Gymnich.
After their return to Gymnich their circumstances gradually changed again. Katharina had to look for a permanent job in order to support her child. Her mother, Anna Maria, was getting old and could no longer care for him. Later, in 1906 or 1907, she moved to her eldest daughter, Sibilla, at Nörvenich, where she died in 1909. The focal point of the family moved with Joseph’s grandmother to Noervenich.
For this reason, and possibly also on account of the better education he would receive, Joseph Kentenich was sent to an orphanage in Oberhausen on 12 April 1894. When he completed his schooling there on 23 September 1899, and was accepted into the Pallottine College in Ehrenbreitstein, near Koblenz, his childhood came to an end.
Fr Kentenich’s first home is supported financially by an Association of Friends. You are welcome to send a donation, or to become a member of the Association, because some work of renovation will have to be undertaken, and paid for, in the coming years.