World Youth Day 2000: Schoenstatt Perspectives and Experiences
(mkf) Schoenstatt Boys' and Girls' Youth from all over the world - 28 groups, 1,400 or so altogether - participated in the World Youth Day 2000, moved by the wish to reflect and pass on Schoenstatt's mission for the church at the turn of the new millennium and to renew the Covenant of Love in Rome as their reply to the message sent out to the entire youth of the world from the Holy Father. One of the highlights was the Schoenstatt International Youth Meeting at the Cor Ecclesiae Shrine in Rome.
Proudly, they wear their little wooden crosses with the inscription: Cor Ecclesiae – four girls from Mexico at Frankfurt airport on their way back home. "The best was the shrine," says a very tired Brenda, "It was like coming home." "When I saw the Holy Father only a short distance away, I immediately thought of our Father and Founder," shares María Rosario from Chile. The experiences from the International Meeting in Schoenstatt are still alive. "All the young people we met were enthused in spite of the crowded busses and trains, the heat, the organizational problems. We experienced a young, vibrant, exciting church. It was breathtaking! Yet, I think something was different with us Schoenstatters. We know that we have a mission for this church!"
Schoenstatt Flags and Banners Everywhere
One day of the Schoenstatt Girls' Youth International Meeting in Schoenstatt preceding World Youth Day had been titled: We find your traces everywhere. This could be said about Schoenstatt flags, Schoenstatt scarves, Schoenstatt signs in Rome. "It's amazing! We were only 1,400 of about 2 million persons, but the TV reports showed the Schoenstatt flags quite often!" The girls who had been in Schoenstatt before took the scarves with the Schoenstatt emblem to Rome, several groups of the Schoenstatt Boys' Youth had T-shirts with Schoenstatt emblems or 'Schoenstatt' written on them. "The joy of meeting a fellow Schoenstatter somewhere on the busy streets was overwhelming," said one girl. In small or large groups, the Schoenstatt participants walked through Rome and took part in the events of the World Youth Day, walked through the Holy Door.
It was hot in Rome – very hot. Some of the Schoenstatt groups shared the fate of many other groups that had to wait a long time for food, bags, pilgrim books, or beds due to organizational shortcomings in Rome. A perfect plan about how and where the buses should go on their arrival came three days after these busses had arrived, and yet – "Rome was beautiful! The Pope, the joy, and the shrine!"
The Watermelon or The Joy About a Schoenstatt Shrine
A young man from Austria grabbed a slice of melon and cried out, his face radiating with joy: "I am so proud to belong to Schoenstatt!!!!" He had just entered the small park behind the high walls of the former aqueduct, Via Aurelia Antiqua 112, where he was welcomed not only with quiet, shade, holy Mass, and a Schoenstatt Shrine, but also with water, candy, and melons.From the very beginning of the World Youth Day, groups or individuals from the Schoenstatt Youth came to the Shrine for quiet prayer or just to take some time off ... "We had called the shrine and surrounding area the 'Oasis of World Youth Day' before, and this it was," said one of the responsible leaders. A real oasis for lost, hungry, tired or exhausted participants, a meeting point to share joy and food, a place of laughter, singing, and praying.
On August 15, Bishop Cox, together with Schoenstatt Fathers and Priests, celebrated a holy Mass for those who had already arrived in Rome. In the following days, one or two holy Masses were celebrated each day in or by the shrine, with 50 - 200 boys and girls participating.
Schoenstatt International Youth Meeting - To Live Holiness Today
On two evenings, the Schoenstatt Youth met by the shrine for the Schoenstatt International Youth Meeting. Approximately 1,000 came on the first evening, 300 on the second day. The meeting of Schoenstatt Youth in Rome was to be a sign. As the Schoenstatt Boys' Youth and Schoenstatt Girls' Youth, they wanted to get to know each other from all the countries that were present. They wanted to have an exchange - of their joy in life, their faith, and their common love of Mary. They also wanted to reflect on their mission as Schoenstatt people, in Rome, in the heart of the Church, their mission at the turn of the new millennium; and they wanted to do that by the shrine that is dedicated to Mary, as the heart of the Church. They wanted to renew their Covenant of Love with Mary and in this way give their reply to the message sent out to the youth of the world from the Holy Father. It was a time to talk, to share, to reach out to each other – in a very spontaneous and joyful way. After a musical prelude, a meditation titled "A Heart Beating for the Church" opened the perspective for the idea and ideal to live holiness today: "The black crosses behind the Original Shrine tell how the Covenant of Love from the very beginning was the story of normal, everyday people who had a great love ... The Schoenstatt Covenant of Love is our way to holiness."
Representatives from each country were then invited to give a short presentation and explain their unique way of holiness. A time to speak to each other, to eat and share followed. Then the dance "Chaos – Encounter – Mary", which had already been performed at the opening of the International Meeting of the Schoenstatt Girls' Youth, led to the highlight of the evening – the Covenant renewal. United by the shrine, the boys and girls renewed their Covenant - in a prayerful atmosphere of sincere longing and commitment. The letter to the Holy Father was read, the blessing given. Then, all were invited inside the shrine to receive a little cross as a reminder of this evening and the renewal of the Covenant of Love in the Cor Ecclesiae Shrine. The crosses should, like the crosses by the Original Shrine, remind everyone that they are called today to become saints. All filed into the shrine to receive the crosses. It was a special moment of prayer and encounter with the Blessed Mother and with Jesus, her Son.
Meeting with the Pope
The letter to the Holy Father – the reply of the Schoenstatt Girls' and Boys' Youth to his message to the youth – lay on a desk, ready to be signed by each one. "Dear Holy Father," the letter read, "As Schoenstatt International Youth, we send you our greetings during this World Youth Day. We are gathered here from many nations ... 'Youth from every continent, do not be afraid to become saints of the new millennium.' This sentence from your message to the youth really struck us. Thank you for having so much trust and placing all your hope in us. Together we have set out to live holiness daily.... Like Mary, we want to open ourselves for God's loving plan and help build a new civilization of love.... "
The letter, signed by all of the participants, was passed on to the Holy Father.
The World Youth Day culminated with the night at Tor Vergata, the prayer with the Holy Father, and the closing Holy Mass, the feast of faith celebrated by 2 million young people. Some Schoenstatt participants were lucky finders of excellent places close to where the white helicopter with the Pope landed. Like during all these days, the flags and scarves with the Schoenstatt logo came in handy. The Holy Father's message set hearts afire.
From Rome, the 1,400 Schoenstatt boys and girls returned home – some via Schoenstatt – to live holiness daily in the Covenant of Love.
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, WI, USA
Letzte Aktualisierung: 01.09.2000 14:32 Mail: Redaktion / Webmaster
© 2000 Schönstatt-Bewegung in Deutschland, PressOffice Schönstatt, hbre, All rights reserved