"Lead all Zimbabweans in Hope to True Freedom, Healing and Peace"
Over 600 persons gathered in Harare to Crown Mary "Queen and Mother of Zimbabwe"
(Marlene Peter, mkf) Songs of hope and faith, sung in Shona, Portuguese and English, resounded on January 20 in the packed Cathedral of Harare, Zimbabwe, where over 600 faithful joined in the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Zimbabwe. The weeks of praying the novena in preparation, joined by so many people world-wide, helped to set the tone for this special occasion and made it much more than a simple pious action.
For the members of the small Zimbabwean Schoenstatt family, it is clear: "The crowning of our Blessed Mother "Queen and Mother of Zimbabwe" was an absolutely wonderful occasion." Father Michael Hagan from Cape Town was the main celebrant, along with three Jesuit priests, Frs. McKenna, (who has always placed the crown on the MTA picture when the small Zimbabwean Schoenstatt community crowned Mary Queen of Africa), Meiring and Husemann. The Cathedral was packed with about 600 people. The picture of the MTA was in place to the side of the altar on an easel draped with an ethnic cloth printed when Pope John Paul visited Zimbabwe. At the foot of the picture was a large arrangement of Flame Lilies which are the national flower of Zimbabwe. Also there were the Pilgrim Mother shrines brought by different groups. At the side of the picture was the centenary flag. Bowls of red and cream roses made the sanctuary look very festive.
Crowning Our Lady Means Asking Her to "Take Charge"
The mass began at 2 p.m. with a procession from the entrance led by four little girls and two boys moving in unison, Schoenstatt members carrying the crowns and the special candle, and the mass book, altar servers and priests, while the congregation sang the entrance hymn. One Schoenstatt member said, "The Gloria, sung so beautifully in the Shona language, lifted our hearts and souls up to God in a spirit of praise." The little children who had led the procession did a liturgical dance while all sang. Most of the mass came from the mass for the feast of The Queenship of Mary. A second reading was added before the Gospel, Acts 1 : 12-14, and the Gospel was the wedding at Cana, John 2: 1-12. Fr. Michael gave the homily and in it he highlighted the present difficulties Zimbabwe's people were facing and explained "why we in Schoenstatt crown Our Lady in difficult situations as we ask her to 'Take charge'." He also explained why January 20 was chosen. He told the congregation a little about Fr Kentenich's decision on that day in 1942. He gave encouragement to all as he urged them to trust in the Blessed Mother to do for us what she did for the wedding guests and bridegroom at Cana.
A symbol of Gratitude and Confidence
The solemn crowning then took place with the crown first being blessed by Fr. McKenna. The congregation stood up and prayed the special Crowning prayer asking the MTA, the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt, to accept the crown as a symbol of gratitude for her motherly care and of childlike confidence in her queenly power. All prayed: "Use your power to lead all Zimbabweans in hope to true freedom, healing and peace in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and your Son. Accept this crown and reign over us as Queen and Mother." Then all knelt to pray a litany of Our Lady which called upon her as Mother and Queen. The crowning ceremony ended with the Schoenstatt hymn, "With Great Delight I Greet Thee." All then prayed the consecration prayer. Then the people began to applaud and wail loudly, which is a typical way of expressing great joy, almost like a yodel. Petitions followed, and then began the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Offertory hymns, Holy Holy, and Lamb of God were sung in English and Shona, the most widely spoken local language. The children again led the offertory procession The organ played and the choir sang 'Ave Maria' at the beginning of Communion, then followed a Shona and English hymn. One participant said, "There really was a glorious heavenly atmosphere throughout the mass."
Standing in Line to Get Close to the "Queen of Zimbabwe"
After mass an hour and a half later many people remained behind to stand or kneel before the picture of grace. Here they prayed silently, individually, many touching the picture and crown as they prayed.. Some sang to Our Lady in different languages. A group of Portuguese ladies stood together and sang some hymns in their language. Half an hour later some were still standing in line wanting to get close to the picture. They only dispersed because there were baptisms about to take place at 4 p.m. A Schoenstatt mother said, "People were jubilant. So many, many commented on how beautiful the mass was." One lady said she felt such a wonderful sense of well-being that the pain from the arthritis in her knees momentarily disappeared.
Tea was served outside for those who wished to have some. Marlene Peter commented, "We went home with such a wonderful sense of joy, peace and hope, a feeling of confidence that we will be cared for no matter what. The weeks of praying the novena in preparation, joined by so many people world-wide, helped to set the tone for this special occasion and made it so much more than a simple pious act."
United Internationally – "Mary, Mother and Queen of Zimbabwe, We Salute You!"
Around the world, Schoenstatt members joined in praying the novena with the Schoenstatt family of Zimbabwe. On Covenant Sunday in December in the International Center in Waukesha, USA, Joan Biemert mentioned the novena to the Schoenstatt members : "I told Father Vega about Marlene's request for people to pray the Novena for the people of Zimbabwe and he said he knows her. Schoenstatt is indeed a small world. I also mentioned the novena in our discussion in the afternoon and one of the ladies said she has met Marlene and would also pray the novena. I gave her a copy and she will ask the other Federation couples to pray it also." In Schoenstatt, the crowning was remembered during the Covenant Celebration on January 18, 2001, and in the festive Holy Mass in the Adoration Church on January 20. Throughout the day, a Zimbabwean flag placed by the MTA pictures reminded all of the crowning. Professional Women from Northern Germany donated a big bouquet of red roses for the Founder Chapel as their crowning gift.
Marlene Peter: "We all experienced the depth of what this crowning meant and know that this is not an end but a new beginning. We offered ourselves to our MTA as her instruments and I am sure that she will use each one of us in the task we asked her to undertake as our Mother and Queen. On Sunday we took the new crown to our shrine in the Arnolds' home and placed in on Our MTA's picture. We also placed there the extremely beautiful candle which had been specially decorated and presented for the crowning by one of the Dominican sisters, Sister Admirabilis. The candle had come from Germany. In the shrine, we prayed once more the novena prayer. "Mary, Mother and Queen of Zimbabwe, We Salute You!"
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
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