The Home Shrine Project 2000
4,000 school children, and teachers, from the Most Northern Shrine of the World
(Michael Hartley, mkf) What began as an idea in September 1998, became reality during May and June, 2000: Four thousand school children have been spending a day at the Schoenstatt Centre in Campsie Glen near Glasgow, Scotland. The highlight of all these days has been the celebration of Holy Mass followed by the blessing and presentation of Home Shrines. The teachers and their helpers were also encouraged to take a Home Shrine, and to make a special place for Jesus and Mary in their homes. The Home Shrine Project 2000 is the Scottish Schoenstatt Movement's main Jubilee Year activity related to their Motto for this year, "At the New Dawn may Christ be born in every home."
In 1998 the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in Scotland were considering how to celebrate the Jubilee Year 2000 in a meaningful way. The idea evolved to help Mary the Mother of Jesus to go "looking for shelter" so that Christ could be born again in every heart and home. Together with all who would be involved, the Great Jubilee of Christ's birth would then be celebrated in and around the Shrine at Campsie Glen, Scotland. This is the northernmost Shrine in the world.
The Sisters contacted the Head Teachers of the local Catholic schools, and presented their ideas to them and their staff. At first with hesitation, but then with growing confidence and enthusiasm, the teachers made the project their own and taught the pupils the meaning of the Home Shrine. During Advent 1999, Jesus and Mary set out on "shelter seeking". 84 schools participated and 270 Home Shrines were circulated. After Christmas, the 'shelter seeking' programme continued– the children wanted to take the little shrine home.
May and June 2000 – 4,000 Children Spending a Day at the Schoenstatt Centre
On the 10th May 2000, the Home Shrine Project for the Jubilee Year began. 18 schools from Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, Motherwell, and Edinburgh were wholeheartedly involved in it. There had been a lot of preparation beforehand which included discussions with the Head Teachers and Staff, also planning and consultation with members of the Schoenstatt Movement who were willing to help.
A practical necessity was the provision of three portable cabins to allow for additional Workshop space on days when up to 300 children participated. During the months of May and June, up to 4000 children spent a day at the Schoenstatt Centre. Whether the sun shone or the rain came down, it didn't matter. Those days were a wonderful experience. The excitement, enthusiasm and joy of all the participants were simply overwhelming.
Various workshops were provided for the children. Singing the Jubilee Hymn, listening to stories relating to the birth of Jesus, watching slides, enjoying artwork sessions and visiting the Shrine, provided a jam-packed programme for the morning.
The programme for each day commenced at 10 am with the arrival of the pupils, teachers and helpers. After being welcomed by the Sisters of Mary, the pupils explored the grounds, climbed trees and walked in the woodland (on rainy days, they had singing practice). During this time, their teachers and helpers were given a short introduction into the programme and meaning of the day, as well as a much-needed cup of tea/coffee.
Father Michael Savage, a Schoenstatt priest, had drawn slides about the origins of Schoenstatt. During their slide meditation, the children learned about Father Kentenich, the students and how the Shrine became a place of grace.
The connection was made to the Shrine in Scotland, which the children then visited. They enjoyed the beauty of the Shrine and were especially pleased when they discovered "their Mary" - the picture of Our Lady which they had already taken home in Advent.
They understood that through the Home Shrine, which they would be presented with at the end of the day, they and their families would be attached to the Shrine in a special way.
In the handcraft workshops, the children made a paper flower. On the 'petals' were printed suggestions giving inspirations how to live with Jesus and Mary. On the reverse side, the prayer 'My Queen, My Mother' was written.
The top floor of the tower in the Centre was a great attraction as the pupils made their way up the spiral staircase to the 'Story Room'. There they listened to the story of the "First Gift" - Mary and Joseph 'searching' for shelter and how they too could give Jesus a 'special gift of a home'.
"Celebrate what we have been given..."
The highlight of each day was the celebration of Holy Mass followed by the blessing and presentation of the Home Shrines. The Parish Priests and/or School Chaplains usually came at 1:30 pm to celebrate the Mass. Some priests came for the whole day.
When the Primary 7 children from the schools in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh had their day, Archbishop Keith Patrick O'Brien celebrated the Holy Mass, together with five priests. Before the final blessing, the Archbishop blessed all the home shrines.
Every pupil received a special Schoenstatt Jubilee medal, and each family, which was represented, received a Home Shrine. The teachers and attending priests were also invited to receive a Home Shrine. The Archbishop, who had received his shrine on an earlier occasion, told the pupils that he kept his Home Shrine in the kitchen, as this was the place where he often entertained his visitors. It was also the place where he could often look at his shrine and say a little prayer. He then invited the children to hold up their MTA pictures, and he 'blessed' them all.
At the end of Holy Mass which was the most appropriate way to end the great Jubilee celebration, the children and adults waved streamers above their heads and sang at the top of their voices:
"Celebrate what we have been given,
Home Shrine Project 2000 – Review
At the end of June, the Head Teachers of East Dunbartonshire met again in the Schoenstatt Centre to look back over the past six weeks of the Home Shrine Project 2000. They brought bags filled with "thank you" letters from the children and asked if they could have another programme like this for Advent. They were full of praise regarding the Project programme and its organization.
The Schoenstatt members, who had helped the Sisters, are still amazed at the way Our Lady has set out to create a Schoenstatt, a 'beautiful place', in 4,000 homes – so that Christ can be born in every home.
The best reviews, however, were expressed in the thank you letters from the pupils.
Letzte Aktualisierung: 22.08.2000 15:34 Mail: Redaktion / Webmaster
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