A Longing to Share Experiences from Schoenstatt
Schoenstatt Christmas Pilgrimage from Argentina and Uruguay
(mkf) Instead of celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem - this was impossible due to the Mideast violence - nine pilgrims from Argentina and Uruguay stayed in Schoenstatt for Christmas, extending their visit at this place that many experience as a new Bethlehem for our times. The longing was strong to share their experiences back home - and to inspire others to come to the place where Schoenstatt began.
Three of the pilgrims, members of the Schoenstatt Mothers' League (ages 70 to 72), came from the first-ever daughter Shrine, the Shrine in Nueva Helvecia: "We take home the very strong desire to share our experiences and to inspire others so that they wish to make a pilgrimage to this paradise on earth ..." The three mothers had been to Schoenstatt for the first time in 1994: "And since then, we longed to return here. Because now we are here for eight days, all the experiences from Schoenstatt can sink in deeply."
The pilgrims from Uruguay and Argentina arrived in Schoenstatt on December 17 and celebrated Covenant Day with a Holy Mass and Covenant renewal in the Original Shrine. For 64-year-old Pedro Diaz, an engineer from Cordoba, and his wife Raquel Douer, this Covenant renewal was one of the highlights of the pilgrimage. "What we will take home," he adds, "will be the experience of a contagious peace and the longing to sustain this peace."
Memories for a Lifetime
"We realize what it means to be in the Original Shrine," said one of the mothers from Uruguay. "To be at the place where the Blessed Mother first dwelled in our midst to dispense gifts and graces in abundance." Asked about the most important memory she'd take home from this pilgrimage, Angélica A. Speicher de Costa de Arguibel, of Buenos Aires, answered, "Everything, absolutely everything. Father Kentenich's tomb, the Mariengarten documentation at Metternich, Sr. Emilie's life, the love you sense everywhere. I have so many memories – enough to begin a new life and to live out of these memories for the rest of my life! I don't see a chance to ever come back to Schoenstatt – but maybe the Blessed Mother will open a door like she did now."
During their stay in Schoenstatt, the pilgrims visited Koblenz-Metternich with the tomb of Sr. Emilie and the documentation about her life, as well as Gymnich near Cologne, the place where Father Kentenich was born. Tours of the various Shrines in Schoenstatt, Holy Mass, prayer times and sharing were part of the program in Schoenstatt. "I experienced the Shrines in Schoenstatt as holy places where Father Kentenich's presence is tangible," said one mother from Uruguay. "I liked Father Kentenich's apartment, his little office where he threw chocolate bars out of the open window to the seminarians outside, and from where he went to his last Holy Mass," said Angélica Speicher de Costa. "But my favorite place in Schoenstatt is the Founder Chapel, the place where he rests. The Original Shrine is also very important because it is the first Shrine, and the Mariengarten Shrine on Mount Schoenstatt because Father Kentenich was there so often."
Christmas in Schoenstatt
"It's different to be in Schoenstatt for the second time," said Pedro Díaz. "You experience the holy places more profoundly." The program on the final days – December 23, 24, 25 – was simply "Schoenstatt" and Christmas in Schoenstatt. The group attended the Christmas Midnight Mass in the Adoration Church, and received a special welcome. For the Mothers from Uruguay, this was the climax of their Schoenstatt experience - although they did not understand one word from the readings, the songs, the sermon. Pedro Diaz commented, "The 'Miracle of the Holy Night' became tangible in the Midnight Mass on Christmas in Schoenstatt."
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
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