"Put out into the deep" - An Invitation to Grow and Go Forward in Hope
The Missionary Mandate of Christians Focus of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign Leaders' Retreat in Rosario, Argentina
(mb/mkf) The Holy Father's Apostolic Letter: "Nuevo Millennio Ineunte" in view of the challenge for the missionaries to grow and go forward in hope was the subject of a retreat held by Father Guillermo Carmona on April 21, 2001, for the coordinators of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign in the Archdiocese of Rosario, Argentina: It's not always easy to venture upon the vast ocean, but those who won't even try will never reach the other shore. The word that gives encouragement to face the difficulties and overcome the obstacles is "confidence." Only with this attitude can one be a disciple both of Father Kentenich and of João Pozzobon. He sensed a call by the Lord through his Mother: Put out into the deep!
On Saturday, April 21, Father Guillermo Carmona, Movement Leader in Argentina and National Assistant of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign, together with the National Secretaries of the Campaign, Agustín and Monina Badano, came to Rosario for a convention of the principal coordinators of the Archdiocese. They had asked Father Carmona to give this retreat in order to stimulate and educate the persons in charge.
The Auxiliary, Surrounded by a Sea of Pilgrim Mother Pictures in the Shrine
A bright fall day with radiant sun welcomed them in Rosario, where they were expected by approximately 80 main coordinators and, like always, by the Auxiliary who welcomed them in the Shrine. The missionaries had organized the dates of Pilgrim Mother's pilgrimages so that a big number of pictures could be present for this day.
The Rosary Campaign of the Pilgrim Mother – Schoenstatt's "Miraculous Catch"
After a moment of prayer, the retreat began. Three talks and times for personal and group reflection dealt with the subject: "Put out into the deep – a challenge for the Campaign," referring to the latest Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father and the central Bible quote mentioned there. Father Carmona explained these words from the point of view of the Campaign, applying them to the missionaries' tasks. He did it in simple words, easy to understand by all of the missionaries, paralleling the miraculous catch in the Gospel and the Campaign. He focused on four basic points that should influence the missionaries' attitude for this:
During the breaks, the missionaries worked individually or in groups on the given points. Everywhere -- in the park, on the stairs leading to the Shrine or inside the Shrine, people could be seen!
The Campaign in the Parishes
At noon all took advantage of the bright sunny day and gathered for lunch in the wide park that surrounds the Shrine. For the National leaders, it was a special joy to now meet and talk with people face-to-face that they usually are in contact with only through phone calls or letters, the magazine, or subjects related to the Campaign: Auxiliaries, forms of the Campaign, wayside shrines. It was special for them to now see the faces of people they had gotten to know and appreciate in the course of time despite the geographical distance and to experience the mutual closeness. After lunch, the lay people met on their own, as some topics were to be discussed and shared with more conveniently one on one. Of the three subjects scheduled for this discussion, only the first one was profoundly talked about as it was the central interest of the missionaries: The Campaign in the Parishes! Some coordinators mentioned conflicts in their parishes related to the work of the
Campaign. The most interesting experience was that coordinators themselves, from experiences of conflicts already solved, could answer and offer possible solutions. Generally, the parish priests are hesitant towards the Ecclesial Movement fearing that they will "rob" them of their people. When they understand that this does not happen through the Campaign but on the contrary, that people who so far did not participate in parish life are getting involved, they open up for Schoenstatt.
Cooperating with the Parish Activities in the Attitude of Service
Some basic conclusions were drawn from the rich discussion
Not a conclusion from observation, but an essential feature of the Campaign is the most crucial moment that opens the minds and hearts of parish priests: the lay involvement and lay responsibility according to the example of Joao Pozzobon. A layperson. He meant the Campaign to be one of Schoenstatt's contributions in service of the church. "All of the work of Don Joao and his Campaign had the goal to be a service for the renovation of church and society." (Final document Sta. Maria, 1989, p.9) He remained faithful to the original charisma, also when again and again he had to defend it even before his own bishop, refusing to change the picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable, serving the church in faithfulness witnessed by the bishop and the parish priests.
The testimony of an elderly woman was most impressive. She shared that at the beginning she had been very much concerned to only bring the MTA to "noble" places. One day, she did not know how, she brought her to a family with serious problems. The joy and emotion of this visit and the transformation experienced in this family made her understand that she had acted out of a superior attitude, thus closing the doors of those houses to the Blessed Mother that needed her most. Meanwhile, this family became her most faithful co-workers in the Campaign and in the parish.
Understanding the Importance of the Campaign for Schoenstatt
The encounter closed with the Holy Mass in the Shrine; the couples of the Federation (who on that day had had their incorporation into the Official Community) joined the Holy Mass. Up to this day, only one couple from the Archdiocese had belonged to the Official Community of the Federation, Isidro and Inés Solózano, members of the National Council, who up to then had met with the couples from Paraná and Córdoba. It was an experience like heaven. Many of those present would not leave!
The visit to Rosario once again demonstrated clearly the importance of sharing life, experiences and interests – important for all who in any way and at any place are in charge of the Campaign. The missionaries' pure and simple love for the Mater, lived in childlikeness and faithfulness, their commitment and readiness for sacrifice, their openness for God's will, their spirit to fight, and their testimonies from life are contagious and give inspiration to the leaders, who, in direct contact with the missionaries, more and more understand the importance and meaning of the Campaign for the Schoenstatt Movement. The local people in charge who can share their joys and sorrows with someone from "outside" feel understood and supported, which is an immense joy to them. The many phone calls received after the meeting were a simple and clear proof of this fact and the confidence and attachment created and reinforced during the few hours of personal encounter. Once again, in joy and gratitude, all could experience that words have become life. "Considering the work of Don Joao," reads the Document of Santa Maria 1989, "we believe that it is a solidification and popularization of Schoenstatt: With the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign of Deacon João Pozzobon, the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt wants to set out from the Shrine as the "Great Missionary" who "works miracles" to lead countless men and women to the Covenant of Love and through this to Christ and the full perception of the Gospel." Don Joao is alive in the hearts of each of the missionaries, walking with those who, like him, assume the mission to carry the Blessed Mother to all, as he promised in his will: "I will remain united with you, revealing the beauty and greatness of God." Again, at the meeting in Rosario, the words so often cited by Father Uriburu proved to be true: "Words move, examples get you going!"
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