Schönstatt - Begegnungen

My Rose in Your Work Place

Evangelization of the Professional Life a Practical Approach in Advent 2000

Pfr. Christoph Fechtelpeter, Frohlinde: Ihr Arbeitsplatz kann Heiligtum sein, wo Christus neu geboren wird.
Fr. Christoph Fechtelpeter: Your working place can become a Shrine, a place of Christ's rebirth!
"Meine Rose an deinem Arbeitsplatz" - dass Christus dort wird neu geboren!
"My rose in your working place" - a place of Christ's rebirth!

Fotos: PressOffice Schönstatt, mkf, © 2000

(mkf) The Schoenstatt Professional Women of Northern Germany set out to change each other's work places. The rose that they took home after their meeting at the beginning of Advent is a promise and a challenge. They firmly believe that each one's work place can and will be a place of Christ's rebirth; each work place can be a Shrine, a place where people experience a home, transformation, and mission. In mutual support through prayers and contributions to the Capital of Grace, they want to bring the atmosphere of the Shrine to their work places and especially to all those connected to their professional life.

"The German Schoenstatt Movement worked with the network of Shrines this year," said the leader, Gabriele Sudermann, a pharmacist from Dinslaken. "But we did not want to network our homeshrines or heartshrines, but the places where we try to build the 'Shrine without Walls;' the places where roses are to blossom inside the barbed wire of intrigue, competition, negative talking, jealousy, pressure, fear, pain of so many people. The idea that our work places can be the place of Christ's rebirth caused real excitement!"

As a means of giving each one an opportunity to be involved, whether they could join in the meeting or not, cards were sent out to all league members to be filled in: with a short description of their work places (or former, or future work places).

One Rose Makes a Difference

"Some sent their cards directly to the Center in Frohlinde because time ran out," says Gabriele. "We were surprised how many sent their cards and wanted to participate in this 'Schoenstatt Job Sharing'." One who had not come for over a year wrote, "The new motto 'From the Shrine, A Network of Love' is great, and immediately I decided that I wanted to participate. Here's my work place, the accounting office of a large brewery!" Gabriele said, "Because we are professional women and focus on our professional life as a challenge to fill the business world with Christ's love, our work places are the areas that should be added to the network of shrines. This is the 'Dachau' that should become a Shrine." The idea of the "Dachau Shrine" is very alive in this group. Father Kentenich believed that the Blessed Mother worked miracles of grace in the Dachau concentration camp. He knew and he experienced that she walked the streets of Dachau because she bore in her heart all the wounds of her Son. Father Kentenich knew and experienced that she would and should create a piece of heaven amidst and because of injustice, death, homelessness, and pain. Christ was shared in the hell of Dachau, and roses blossomed inside the barbed wire. "You know," said one woman who joined a pilgrimage to Dachau during the summer, "A rose in a bed of roses in a beautiful garden is not that great. But one single rose in the grey desert of Dachau, that is a miracle."

Christ was shared in Dachau

She added, "It's a crazy idea that in heaven there will be a Dachau, or better, a Dachau Shrine. At the moment of the light of a smile, the light of a kind word, the light of a morsel of bread, all of heaven and earth will rejoice that Christ was shared in the 'hell' of Dachau." As professional women, they want to believe in the Blessed Mother's ability to work miracles in the "Dachau of everyday life," especially in the Dachau of professional life. Gabriele Sudermann: "This is where our Dachau should become a Shrine. My work place, with my 26 co-workers, their sorrows, fears, sicknesses, moods, hopes and wishes, this is all written on my card and they need a lot of graces. And I need a lot of contributions from the Capital of Grace so that Christ can be born in this pharmacy. Christ wants to be born in each of our work places. All the people with whom and for whom I work are in my Dachau Shrine, in the 'Shrine Without Walls.' Each one is welcome there, even the least favorite co-worker. We want to work together, that roses can blossom!"

And even one rose can make a difference, and Dachau will never be the same when a rose blossoms there." A meditation, written by one of the league members, introduced and explained the idea to the 22 participants on Saturday afternoon. "I experience the barbed wire where I experience jealousy, mistrust, sin. My prayers, my work, my thoughts do not seem to touch anybody. But then when someone calls me and says, 'I remember you, I pray for you,' then this is a rose that blossoms inside my barbed wire!"

"My Dachau becomes a Shrine"

The women spent almost the whole afternoon in the Shrine, filling in their cards and writing personal letters to Jesus. These letters will be taken along to the Midnight Mass in Schoenstatt and will be placed in the Original Shrine. During the offering of the gifts, all brought their "Dachau cards" to the altar; in return, they received a rose as a gift from Jesus and Mary. Before the final blessing, Fr Fechtelpeter gave to each one another's "work place." In his sermon, he had picked up the theme of the rose inside the barbed wire and said, "We need to make sure that the roses are not roses of a single moment but that they grow and have roots. Then one day the roses will cover the barbed wire. But the barbed wire is still there, a necessary support for the roses." One of the women who could not be there wrote, "Because I am preparing for my graduation, I cannot attend. But I like the idea to be responsible for someone else's work place, someone else's little Dachau. And I won't cease to work for the growth of her rose after Christmas. I promise!"

The Place of Jesus in her Arms

A good idea, sure, but how can we apply that to everyday life? "I understood at this meeting that prayer and contributions to the Capital of Grace are just not enough," said one woman. "I need to see where action is needed. It is not enough to say, 'Oh how terrible' when one from our group shares about the girls in the shelter where she works. I need to think of doing something." One woman who works in an office sent a load of scrap paper to this shelter. For months, the children have enough paper for drawings. The woman who works there said, "I will never forget the joy when I got the package from Birgit. She had sent some things she did not need anymore in her household. I put the bedside table lamp in the room where I am during the night shift. It always reminds me that I am not alone there." Another one traveled three hours to visit a woman who needed some coaching and better knowledge of employees' rights. A highlight of the day, however, was the remark of one of the participants, "Okay, when I believe that Christ will be born on my job, and when I believe that the Blessed Mother extends the walls of her Shrine also to my job, then I only have to look at the MTA picture to know what must change. You know, the place of Jesus in her arms is now my boss's place. I can't go on speaking about him in the way I did before five minutes ago!"

The meeting was wrapped up at a Holy Mass on Sunday afternoon. "We wrote the names of all our co-workers on paper roses. Also the names of all those for whom we work." In the end, Father Fechtelpeter blessed all these people and all the places of work. One woman said, "And now the Blessed Mother set out to three hospitals, one nursing home, a shelter, a nurses' training school, households where some of the women are employed, a pharmacy, a brewery, a children's psychiatric hospital, a student dorm, two grade schools, several administrative offices, the lab of a chemical company ... Places of Christ's rebirth!"

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



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