(mkf) Encounters, testimonies of faith, openness, joy and radiant sunshine marked the Golden Anniversary of the Schoenstatt Shrine in Maria Rast by Euskirchen, Germany - the first daughter shrine built in Europe. It was dedicated by Father Joseph Kentenich, the Founder of the International Schoenstatt Movement, on July 2nd, 1950. The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary of the Northern German Province and the Schoenstatt Movement of the Archdiocese of Cologne had joined to share the joy of this feast and invited all to celebrate with them. In the afternoon, Cardinal Meisner of Cologne was the main celebrant of a festive Holy Mass with more than 2,000 participants. More than 200 persons from the Schoenstatt Movement, the neighboring parishes, musical bands and youth groups participated in the program of the day.
The European flag and flags from European countries were placed in front of the shrine, there were small flags everywhere, flowers, a big tent and 210 Schoenstatt Sisters who had arrived from all filiations of the Northern German Province, and radiant skies (total surprise after a number of rainy days before). It was obvious to everyone who came to Maria Rast on this sunny morning: This is a feastday, a day of thanksgiving and joy.
The visitors were welcomed to a variety of programs, including games for the little ones and their parents. Anyone could individually compose a program during the first hours of the feast. At 2:00 PM, Sr. M. Antonja Schomberg, Borken - for the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary - and Monsignor Felix Kreutzwald, Bonn - for the Schoenstatt Movement of the Archdiocese of Cologne - greeted the guests in the tent, which was decorated with an abundance of sunflowers, lilies, and violets. A theatrical performance followed, illustrating the experience of Mary's working from the shrine. Cardinal Meisner, Cologne, led the festive Holy Mass. He especially stressed Mary's testimony of faith and her importance for Christian life. In the evening, people gave witnesses of personal experiences with the Pilgrim Shrine. The feast ended with a candlelight procession and a blessing at the place of grace, which was the origin and reason of this feast - the little shrine of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt.
On July 2nd, 1950, the Founder of the International Schoenstatt Movement, Father Joseph Kentenich, dedicated and blessed the Schoenstatt Shrine in Maria Rast - the first daughter shrine in Europe. On October 18th, 1914, he had sealed the Covenant of Love with Mary in the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt, together with a group of students. Since then, this chapel is the spiritual center of the Movement, which spread to over 50 countries on all continents. In 1944, the first daughter shrine was built in Uruguay, South America. The Shrine and Center in Maria Rast housed the first home of the Northern German Province of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary (which is now located in Borken, Westphalia). Meanwhile, Maria Rast is well-known far beyond the Eifel area as a pilgrimage place and training center.
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken/WI, USA