(mkf) One of the Highlights of the Holy Year – the Feast of the Annunciation, commemorated by Pope John Paul II in Nazareth, and by all of the important Marian shrines throughout the world - was celebrated yesterday with approximately 700 women - and some of their husbands, also- in Schoenstatt. The theme of the day in Schoenstatt: Encouraging women, to mark the destiny of the 3rd like Mary and in covenant with her.
By 9:30, women from all areas of Germany, among them also participants from Canada, India, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the Netherlands arrived in Schoenstatt. The program of the day started with a video clip from the Holy Father's visit to Nazareth – thus linking the celebration of the Universal Church and this day in Schoenstatt. Women are able, and are called, to mark the destiny of the 3rd millennium, said Sr. M. Nurit Stosiek, who led through the day. Women are called to help our world become a place with a "plus" of dignity and beauty, justice and mercy, home and hope – a Beautiful Place.
Changing and marking the "climate", fostering relationships, and taking responsibility, were shown as concrete ways of doing so – not in theory, but by shared experiences of women.
Climate, Relationship, Responsibility
Three women from different walks of life shared from their experiences from working on an telephone line for pregnant women in need, the changes that took place in the lab of a big chemical plant when the feelings, needs, and fears of the co-workers mattered, and how the "Open House" of a Schoenstatt family made a difference in a small town. Fr. Penners, then, spoke about the mission of women in view of the mission of Mary, encouraging each one to take her responsibility and make a difference. God looked into the face of a woman 2000 years ago – today, he wants to look into the face of women again, challenging them to change the destiny of our world.
At 2.00pm, all of the women – the majority of them in Schoenstatt for the first time – gathered around the Original Shrine. They were united with the Holy Father in Nazareth and all those who anywhere in the world gathered around the Marian Shrines to celebrate 2000 years of Incarnation. The short prayer service, introduced by Fr. Rummel SAC, the director of the Original Shrine, showed the Schoenstatt shrine as a New Nazareth for our times. This became obvious in some testimonies of women who shared their experiences of finding a new home, peace, love, reconciliation, and a way homeward to the Triune God in this little shrine. The prayer service ended with "My Queen, My Mother" prayed by more than 700 persons.
Discussion groups, Singing, meditative dancing, creative workshops, presentations about Sr. Emilie, Maria Laufenberg, Gertraud von Bullion, a video from Nazareth, a tour of the Fr. Kentenich House, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and prayer times in several Schoenstatt Shrines, reconciliation, and meeting with Fr. Kentenich in the Founder Chapel were offered during an alternative program.
At 4:00pm, the day ended with a festive holy Mass in the Pilgrim Church. As a sign of hope, the light from Bethlehem was brought to the altar. "I did not know that something like that was going on here today. I just wanted to spend this Marian feastday in Schoenstatt", said a Filipino woman from Frankfurt. "What I heard touched my life. We people often have fear of the future. This day was a sign of hope and joy!"