25th Pilgrimage from Fulda to Schoenstatt
Joyfully Processing through Vallendar with 111 Communion Children
(mkf) "We'll experience special trains stopping in Vallendar!" — A saying reported from one enthusiastic young Schoenstatt member, at a time when Schoenstatt was misunderstood and Father Kentenich in Exile. Nowadays, most of the many thousands of pilgrims coming to Schoenstatt from all over the world arrive by car, bus or aircraft, but — but there are also special trains stopping at Vallendar's tiny station; like the one from Fulda that comes there annually, since 25 years. On Sunday, May 21, 1,400 or so pilgrims came from Fulda, together with Auxiliary Bishop Schick, among them many young people and 111 Communion children in their festive dresses and suits.
Accompanied by a brass band - the youngest of the members just 12 years old - the pilgrims processed from Vallendar station through Vallendar main street. More than 100 communion children, a bishop and a big number of priests in priests' clothing, seminarians from Cameroon, Nigeria, and Congo, young families with toddlers, youth with backpacks and guitars, united in joy, prayer, and singing — a vision not too common in German inner cities. That made several Vallendar citizens wonder, stand in awe — and walk with. Many of the pilgrims expressed their joy about the flags and flowers along the main street, a sign of special welcome to them, and to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament walking with them.
Since 25 years from Fulda to Schoenstatt
The long procession passed the Original Shrine, heading for the Pilgrims' Church, where Holy Mass began by 11:00am. A group of visitors from Chile touring the valley stood in awe when they saw all the people. One lady commented: "We were told that the church in Germany is in a bad state. That can't be ture - look at these people!"
Together with Mass servers, the Auxiliary bishop and many priests processed into the crammed church. "It does so good to see a big church filled with people!" Two gifts were brought along on behalf of the Silver Anniversary of the Fulda Schoenstatt pilgrimage: the re-gilded vigil light for the Fulda diocesan shrine - a gift to take back home -, and a big candle for the Original Shrine. With obvious benevolence and joy, Auxiliary bishop Schick, at the end of the Holy Mass, passed on the highest diocesan award to Sister M. Luzia of Dietershausen - the sister in charge for the pilgrimage since 25 years.
Roses for Jesus and Mary
Unfortunately, the major part of the children's and youth's program planned for the time after lunch, fell prey to the heavy rain. The pilgrims had arrived with sunshine, but by 1:00pm it began to pour and would not stop until the train left Vallendar ...
After the Marian benediction beginning at 4:00pm — for the children and adults in the Pilgrim church, for the youth in the shrine by House Marienau, lead by Abbé Philippe from Cameroon —, all went to the Original Shrine, with umbrellas and a good sense of humor: "At least it does not snow!"
Fr. Bendel SAC welcomed the pilgrims, who now passed on the big candle, their gift for the Original Shrine. The Communion children brought red roses for Jesus and Mary - in thanksgiving for the graces received on their feastday. Due to the rain-caused delay, time was short, as the special train was to leave Vallendar station at 6:00pm, and most of the pilgrims had planned to walk back to the station. Only one man seemed to have plenty of time, taking pictures while most of the others already had left. "One of the communion children is my kid,", he proudly remarked. "Are you not afraid of missing the train?"— "Sure not! I'm the driver!"