First day of the year 2000
(mkf) At 8:00 am, the youth (many who had stayed up all night) practiced the songs for the 11am Holy Mass. Already by 10:45 am there wasn't a parking place or seat in the church. The International Schoenstatt Family gathered around the Mother Thrice Admirable and the Father and Founder to begin the year 2000. By the altar, a net and a shrine symbolized the network of shrines - showing how Schoenstatt wants to bring Father Kentenich's mission into the new millennium.
The Men's and Girls' Youth sang accompanied by keyboard, flute and violin. The opening procession was to the song: "This is the Fest" with an international representation of priests including Schoenstatt Fathers and Priests from Nigeria, Argentina, Switzerland, USA, and Germany. Father Marmann, head of the General Presidium of the Schoenstatt Movement, presided the celebration. At the beginning, he mentioned the light from Bethlehem which would unite us with the universal church, and the net and the shrine, which stood for the 160 Schoenstatt shrines in the world, which number would increase in the just begun year. Mary, our Mother Thrice Admirable, would work in each of them, bringing Christ to all. We would be united with all of these shrines. Together with all Schoenstatt families in the world, we would now gather around the shrines to begin the New Year.
Members of the Men's youth brought in five candles - lit at the light from Bethlehem - and placed them by a net with a symbol for the Holy Year in the form of a shrine. The candles represented the 160 Schoenstatt Shrines around the world, in five continents.
The Gloria was sung in youthful joy: "Gross sein lässt meine Seele den Herrn" from the Magnificat. The first reading was in Spanish and the "Dios te Salve" was sung for the psalm. The second reading was in English and the Alleluia was: "Sing Alleluia to the Lord" in English.
After the gospel, Schoenstatt families with their children came forward with vigil lights to place by the net as representation of each Home Shrine being a little Bethlehem.
Fr. Fleischlin shared in his sermon about the Prayer Chain from shrine to shrine during the night. We would feel united with many Schoenstatters around the world who had spent or were still spending the night in prayer in any of the Schoenstatt shrines: Prayer around the world! He even mentioned it was in an article in the local paper as an alternative event for New Year's Eve. We should be excited with the experience of each shrine being Bethlehem here and now. The prayer around the world was fascinating, he said: It was not just a project for only 24 hours, but is like a vision of our mission from the "Internet of shrines": God has chosen Schoenstatt as the place of Christ's rebirth. Father Fleischlin encouraged the International Schoenstatt Family to go into the new millennium to bring the message and mission of our Mother and Queen to the world. We unite in praising the Triune God for giving Schoenstatt this Mother and this mission. The prayer around the world will continue in the course of the year, uniting all Schoenstatt members and all those who feel close to any shrine in mutual regard.
The Petitions were read by members of the Brothers - for all those in need -, Seminarians - peace -, Federation Women - a new Pentecost -, Ladies of Schoenstatt - unity -, Family League - homeshrines, respect of born and unborn life -, Professional Women - working place situation -, Schoenstatt sisters - mission of Fr. Kentenich -, Men's Youth - the mission and message want to live and spread.
Fr. Marman, as main celebrant, invited all to pray the Our Father in their own language and to do the same for the Covenant Renewal at the end of Holy Mass.
At communion, many small lights were brought to the net, symbolizing the heart shrines.
Candidates of the Ladies of Schoenstatt from Zaire sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" in their language accompanied by drums.
Before the closing blessing, the children formed a procession with stars mounted on sticks to accompany a pilgrim shrine to the net showing Mary is the one sent to us to bring the light of Christ. The closing song was the Instrument Song, encouraging all to share Schoenstatt's mission. All could once more extend New Year's wishes, while the young people joyfully sang some more songs.
The Men's Youth had finished working out their youth ideal and program during the past days and had copies to distribute to share with all. They also gave matchboxes with their motto to each one.
One person commented: "We should start every year like this. What an experience of being united as International Schoenstatt Family. Having so many young people and young families participating gives a sign of hope for the new millennium."
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