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My personal experience

with Father Josef Kentenich

Maria Oliveras, New York, USA

I am honored to be invited to share with you how Father Kentenich's life has had a positive impact on my life. Before I share with you who Father Kentenich is for me, let me introduce myself. My name is Maria Oliveras, and I live in New York City, where I work as a Teaching Assistant at New York University. I am a member of the Youth Dedicated in the United States, and I look forward to continue my spiritual growth within an adult branch in the Schoenstatt family.

My first contact with the Schoenstatt movement occurred when I was 13 years old. My mother invited me to join her in a Schoenstatt pilgrimage that was going to Germany and Switzerland. I did not know what traveling in a pilgrimage entailed, but I was looking forward to visit a new country and to celebrate my graduation from eighth grade.

During the three-week pilgrimage to the original Schoenstatt land, I learned a lot about the German priest named Peter Joseph Kentenich. I learned about his humble beginnings, about his difficult youth, and about the challenges that he faced as a priest during the Nazi regime, including his three-year stay at Dachau concentration camp.

In my first encounter with Schoenstatt history and spirituality, what impressed me most about Father Kentenich was his love for Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. The peace and acceptance I felt at all the Schoenstatt shrines I visited were a testimony to Father Kentenich's understanding of the Blessed Mother's role as our advocate and our guide to Jesus.

Although I knew during that first pilgrimage that I had been to a very holy place, I was still too young to grasp the full importance of Father Kentenich's work. As I participated in pilgrimages to the Schoenstatt shrines in Wisconsin, in a region otherwise known as the exile Land, I slowly began to have a clearer idea of the extraordinary vision with which God blessed Father Kentenich. My appreciation for the concept of 'everyday sanctity' became more significant to me as I entered the workforce and saw the challenge of handling a hectic schedule with confidence in God. Through my experiences with working with college students and my co-workers, I have come to appreciate Father Kentenich's ability to be a reflection of God's love to every person he met.

A Close Adviser

I think we can compare Fr. Kentenich's openness to God's will and his fatherly quality to St. Joseph's relationship with Jesus. Although God chose St. Joseph to be Jesus' foster father and not his biological father, St. Joseph was in many ways the instrument by which Jesus would experience the love of His Heavenly Father. Like St. Joseph, Father Kentenich became a father figure to the community he led; his yes to divine providence enabled him to be an instrument of God. He was given the grace to predict a modern society that denies the power of God and that thinks that man is his own deity. Fortunately, those of us who have been called to the spirituality of Schoenstatt, and all who try to be faithful Catholics, know that our lives would eventually be a mess without God.

Who is Father Joseph Kentenich for me? He is a close advisor who has never failed

to intercede for me and to be a role model of peace in the face of chaos. In particular, I have experienced Father Kentenich's fatherliness by my regular visits to the Father Room in the Candelaria Shrine in Staten Island. Each time I enter this room, I ask Father Kentenich to send me home with an inspiration or I present him with a particular worry. Then, I open to a page of a book that contains transcripts of talks he gave to couples in Wisconsin. Even when a talk seems not to have anything to do with my question, I always manage to learn something new. Father Kentenich's life has shown me that it is possible in the modern world to be a good Christian in a practical way. I am very grateful that God chose Father Kentenich to bring the Schoenstatt movement to life because I almost cannot believe how much I have grown from the young girl who visited the original shrine so long ago. Although I still feel that there is a lot more for me to learn about Father Kentenich's life, I wish to fulfill Father's vision in becoming a strong, free, priestly personality under the protection of our Blessed Mother.



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