Schönstatt - Begegnungen

A Schoenstatt Shrine under Coconut Trees ...

Dedication of the Shrine in Irinjalakuda, India

Im Schatten der Kokospalmen wurde mit viel Einsatz am Heiligtum gebaut ...
A Shrine growing under high coconut trees - built with great enthusiasm and longing ...

Mitbauen am Heiligtum - ein besonderes Erlebnis für die Kandidatinnen aus Kerala
Privileged to help building the Shrine: The Schoenstatt Sisters' candidates from Kerala

Sr. M. Rincy and Sr. M. Josy, from Kerala, by the Wayside Shrine in Irinjalakuda
Sr. M. Rincy und Sr. M. Josy aus Kerala am Bildstöckchen in Irinjalakuda

Fotos: Schönstatt, Irinjalakuda, India © 2000

(mkf) Situated on a terrace-like soft slope surrounded by high coconut trees, a small Shrine welcomed bishops, priests, sisters, children, and families, altogether over 600 persons on October 28, 2000: the youngest Schoenstatt Shrine and the second one on Asian soil. October 28 was the day of a dream come true for the Schoenstatt Sisters in Kerala, the bishop of the Diocese of Irinjalakuda, and the Schoenstatt friends in this area of India that was first brought the Gospel by Thomas the Apostle.

Fifty years after the Northern German Province of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary built the first daughter Shrine in Europe (Maria Rast near Euskirchen) this Province had the joy of building the second daughter Shrine in India as a gift to the Church of Kerala in the Holy Year. The Schoenstatt Sisters hope that the words Father Kentenich said at the dedication of the Shrine in Maria Rast will also apply to the new Shrine in Southern India: "Blessed Mother, light the light of faith for all those who are touched by this Shrine; the light of practical faith in Divine Providence!"

"Practical Faith in Divine Providence" was the theme of Bishop James' sermon during the festive Eucharist. He illustrated it with the life of Father Kentenich, and gave a short introduction into Schoenstatt's spirituality.

The Most Beautiful Decorations for Mary

On the day before the dedication and very early on the morning of October 28, volunteers helped decorate the Shrine, the tent, and the road leading to the Shrine with flowers, garlands, and the most beautiful Indian adornments.

Stars and floating angels on the front wall of the Shrine called to mind the Nativity, commemorated by the Church on each day of this Holy Year. For days, the Schoenstatt Sisters' candidates from Kerala had crafted paper flowers to decorate the tent in typical Indian style. Flowers and garlands were placed everywhere on the road and around the Shrine. A couple of days before, the path leading to the Shrine was paved with red cobblestones. "Like a red carpet for the Queen," said one of the many volunteers. On three successive days before the dedication, the newspapers carried information about the event, including a short introduction to Schoenstatt.

A Statue of Thomas the Apostle in the Shrine of the Thomas Christians

Several days before the celebration, Sr. M. Jacoba Kesselheim, General Superior of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, Sr. M. Mattia Amrhein, Council Sister for English Assistance, and Sr. M. Antonja Schomberg, Provincial of the Northern German Province to which India belongs, had come from Germany to Irinjalakuda. Together with children in white dresses, they welcomed Bishop James of Irinjalakuda, Bishop Jacob of Trichur, and the Vicar General of the Diocese of Palghat.

The festive celebration began at 9:00 AM. A children's orchestra and children's choir, First Communion children strewing flowers, all of the 17 children from the Schoenstatt Sisters' shelter in Shoranur, the bishops, approximately 15 priests and Schoenstatt Fathers, the sisters, and 600 or so guests from the area processed to the Shrine and the beautifully decorated tent. The choir of the Irinjalakuda Cathedral provided the songs for the Eucharist that was celebrated in the Syro-Malabarian Rite according to the customs of the Church in Kerala, dating back to the times of the apostles.

As usual in the Syro-Malabarian Rite, the dedication of the Shrine took place before the Gospel was read. Solemnly, the MTA picture was carried to the Shrine. There Bishop James blessed and consecrated the altar (which was made in Brazil), the picture, the tabernacle, the walls and the statues of St. Michael, St. Joseph, and St. Thomas the Apostle. The Schoenstatt Shrine in Irinjalakuda is the only one in the world with a statue of Thomas the Apostle!

Picnic Packs for all of the Guests

After the holy Mass, Sr. M. Antonja thanked all who had come and all who had helped build the Shrine. Sr. M. Jacoba extended congratulations in the name of the entire international community of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary; she expressed her wish that the new Shrine would bring abundant blessings for the Church of Kerala and support the love for the Church following the Founder's example. Afterward, picnic packs were distributed among the guests, as they usually are in India for weddings and big feasts. All were invited to stay and enjoy the meal and visit the Shrine. All day, many people came to see the Shrine; many had not been able to attend the celebration as they had to work. Bishop James of Irinjalakuda celebrated the first Holy Mass in the new Shrine on the day after the dedication.

A Gift for the Holy Year

The new Shrine is located close to the first MTA wayside Shrine of India that was erected in 1985 on this coconut plantation. In 1990, the first Schoenstatt Shrine in India was built in Bangalore, several hours from Kerala. The Schoenstatt Movement there crowned the picture of the MTA in the Shrine on October 18, 2000. The new Shrine in Irinjalakuda, dedicated ten years later and in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Shrine in Maria Rast, is a Holy Year gift to the Church of Kerala (home of the majority of the Indian Schoenstatt Sisters), a sign of Schoenstatt's love for the Church. Two Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary work in the Diocesan Pastoral Center. Altogether, 31 Schoenstatt Sisters from India, backed by the Sisters of the Northern Province in Germany and the entire community, live and work for Schoenstatt in India "in the shadow of the Shrines." They come from the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andra Pradesh. The first young women from India to become Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary came to Germany in 1973 and were received into the community in 1975. In 1984, the first Indian Schoenstatt Sisters returned to India and began to build schools, kindergartens, and shelters (open for both Christian and Hindu children), to work with families, and to spread Schoenstatt in their country.

English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA


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