"Our Vallendar" and "Our Schoenstatt" – Side Effects of a Schoenstatt Cardinal's Visit
Reception for Cardinal Errázuriz in the Vallendar Municipal Hall
(mkf) May Vallendar will more become 'our Vallendar' for us, and Schoenstatt become more 'our Schoenstatt' for Vallendar – this phrase from Father Heinrich Walter's short talk during the reception for Cardinal Errázuriz, sponsored by the City of Vallendar, mirrors the atmosphere of the encounter on March 19, 2001.
Fred Pretz, Mayor of Greater Vallendar and member of the Social Democrats, had invited, and at 10:00 AM greeted Cardinal Errázuriz and Vallendar's leading politicians, first of all the mayor of the city of Vallendar, Wolfgang Helbach, and the mayors of nearby Weitersburg and Urbar, the secretary of finances from Rhineland-Palatine, Mittler, some members of the General Presidium of Schoenstatt, representatives of the Catholic and Lutheran communities and other well-known citizens from Vallendar. The front wall was decorated with the Chilean and German flag, and the Golden Book of Vallendar was prepared for the Cardinal's signature to document the grand moment.
Schoenstatt – Home for Thousands from All Over the World
Referring to the addresses from the previous days, Father Heinrich Walter, head of the German National Council, suggested to unite in the expression "our Cardinal". The Cardinal, Fr. Walter highlighted, would also stand for Schoenstatt, and: "No Schoenstatt without Vallendar." The attachment to places, he added, had been essential for the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, in view of the modern people's need of a home. Thus, the Cardinal honored today by the city of Vallendar, would also represent the love of thousands of persons from Chile to Australia who had found a home in Schoenstatt by Vallendar – and the longing of so many to once (again) come there. He said that the relationship between Schoenstatt and Vallendar would not need to be picture perfect harmony in all cases – like building projects – , but he declared that for Schoenstatt, Vallendar might more become "our Vallendar", and expressed his hope, that for Vallendar, Schoenstatt would more become "our Schoenstatt." Mayor Wolfgang Helbach (CDU) expressed his sincere pride in "the first Vallendar citizen to become a Cardinal"; Cardinal Errázuriz would be a true Vallendar citizen! Often, he added, when travelling abroad, persons would neither know Vallendar nor Koblenz; but when he would add: "Schoenstatt", they would! Schoenstatt would make Vallendar be known in the world, provide work places and bring thousands of visitors from all over the world to Vallendar's shops. As a good mathematician, Helbach explained that Vallendar's "Shrine quote" -the number of shrines related to the number of inhabitants- would excel Rome; so the Pope would sure soon feel urged to visit Vallendar! A basket with bottles of wine from Vallendar, presented by the two mayors, was to remind Cardinal Errázuriz of his Vallendar home.
Pallottine Father Mayer, Vallendar parish priest, extended the congratulations of the parish and emphasized the uniqueness of his parish with the spiritual centers of Schoenstatt and of the Pallottines' included.
Signature in the Golden Book
Cardinal Errázuriz in his thanksgiving address mentioned the progress of developing closer relationships between Vallendar and Schoenstatt in the past years, and expressed his personal attachment to Vallendar and Germany. Referring to the process of reconciliation and dialogue in Chile of which he is a crucial factor, he stressed the importance of church and state working together in service of the people. Before he signed the Golden Book, he said: "I have three places ot be at home: Chile, Rome, and here!" Toni Kalh, long-time mayor of Vallendar, in a casual way recalled experiences from "the good old times", and concluded with the statement:_ "Today, Schoenstatt is the world center of a movement that is very important for the Catholic church."
World Center of the International Schoenstatt Movement
The reception in Vallendar helped again create the awareness of Schoenstatt as world center of an international movement with over 160 spiritual centers in all continents, and, as Father Beller mentioned in informal talks with local politicians, present into 80 countries in the world through the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign. "Do we have Info-Cards about Schoenstatt in the tourist information?", asked mayor Helbach. Dieter Klöckner, party leader of the local Social Democrats, shared that he was born in Schoenstatt –"In the house that is now called House Gertraud von Bullion!"- and that he shook hands with Father Kentenich when, as a student, he earned some money as mail distributor and brought the mail to Father Kentenich! When Cardinal Errázuriz said farewell to head to the plane to Rome, several politicians stayed to continue the talks; a Cardinal's visit with interestin side effects, bringing Vallendar and Schoenstatt a bit closer.
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