The Best Christmas Gift - Being in Schoenstatt
Twelve Pilgrims from Austin, Texas, in Schoenstatt
(mkf) It was "kind of a spontaneous pilgrimage," said one of the participants who brought twelve people from Austin, Texas, to Schoenstatt just days before Christmas. Some of them actually dropped everything to come to Schoenstatt, most of them for the first time. From December 12 - 20, they explored the Shrines and Houses in Schoenstatt, joined in Advent celebrations, and found themselves ready to roll up their sleeves and work for the Blessed Mother in Austin.
"Since our family came to Schoenstatt for the first time this year in August, I knew we had to come here again, and we had to bring others along," shared Adrienne Kennedy. Eight of the pilgrims from Austin were first-time Schoenstatt visitors. "Your first visit to any Shrine is to the Original Shrine!" This chance remark by Sister Christa Marie sank in, shared one of the participants, adding, "That helped me appreciate that I had been given a special gift I didn't yet comprehend, but it got my attention. I paid more attention because of that remark and its heartfelt wonder and sincerity." For the Schoenstatt members and friends in Austin, it's several hours to drive to visit a Shrine; it's several hours to fly to see the Original Shrine. "I am jealous!" exclaimed 23-year-old Patrick Hamilton when realizing that some people live only minutes from the Original Shrine. Several participants shared the joy of visiting the Original Shrine for the first time – this joy only to be topped by "the overwhelming experience of coming here for the second time," as Adrienne Kennedy did. "It was coming home. Everything in the Original Shrine was home, everything – the candles, the statues, the windows, the scent. It was a real homecoming."
Dropping Everything to Go to Schoenstatt
"Do you even know I am here?" asked one of the pilgrims when calling her family. Gawin Kennedy, 18, was the one with the shortest notice to join the group. Less than 24 hours before the plane took off, he got permission to stay out of school for these days. But none knew much longer. An airline pilot, a member of one of the Austin groups, had offered reduced tickets. "It was Divine Providence that we came and especially that we came now. We scheduled the time in December for a family who could only go then, and they are the ones who at the last minute were unable to make the trip. But we are sure – this was our time." "This pilgrimage is the best Christmas gift I ever got," said one woman. "I actually dropped everything to go. When I was asked whether I would want to go to Schoenstatt, I neither asked when nor who would go nor how much it would cost. I only knew I'd go!" Another lady met a Schoenstatt member by chance on the first Sunday in Advent. "I asked her when the trip would be, and she said, 'A week from Tuesday.' My passport was expired, and I had not purchased any Christmas gifts. Well, I wanted to go, and by Wednesday I had all Christmas presents that had to be sent out of Texas (ten boxes) wrapped and mailed." By then, she had been appointed the organizer of the trip. "Our trip was scheduled for December 13, but Schoenstatt asked us to change to December 12. Texas had a severe snowstorm on the 13th, and we would not have been able to go!" Some of the participants' stories of how they got to Schoenstatt in December 2000, however, started long before, as they shared their adventure stories of a very personal call to faith and to Schoenstatt.
Feeling the Graces of the Founding
What does it mean to be in Schoenstatt? Gawin Kennedy Puthoff, 18, co-founder of the Schoenstatt Boys' Youth in Austin said, "It feels like home. When I come here, I really feel the graces of the founding of Schoenstatt, the history of the movement." She had never understood what the expression "community soul" actually meant, admitted one lady. Now she knows. Adds Jo Creath, "The community soul came alive for me as we traveled in and out of shrines and churches associated with Schoenstatt." Architect Pablo Serna, 32 years old, did not know much about Schoenstatt when he came. "I got to know Father Kentenich here in the personal way that others speak about him. That struck me. I got a sense of Father Kentenich's joy, seen in his sons and daughters. So far, he was book-known for me. In the Father Kentenich House I understood that he was a prophet of his time. He is here for his family." Pablo would have liked more English translations in the Father Kentenich House that he explored on his own. "Maybe next time when we come!" The Father Kentenich House, he said, was the most effective experience for him. "Getting my misconceived ideas of the Schoenstatt Movement cleared up," said Jo Creath, was the most important result of this stay. "Now I can explain these misunderstood concepts to people who have questions in Austin."
A New Mission in Life
And what was the highlight of the pilgrimage? Patrick Hamilton, 23, has a clear answer: "The Covenant of Love. What I take home," he adds, "is a responsibility to grow Schoenstatt, and a vision of how to do so in Austin." For Gawin, the time spent in Schoenstatt meant a new inspiration to live more with the ideals of Schoenstatt, as well as an inspiration to help Schoenstatt grow in Austin. "I take home a new mission in life," said Jo Creath, "to spread the good news, Schoenstatt, to share with single adults about bringing God into their everyday life – a meaning for life."
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
Letzte Aktualisierung: 23.12.2000 18:23 Mail: Redaktion / Webmaster
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