Personal Encounter and Relationship Counts Where Schoenstatt Begins
Schoenstatt Growing in Croatia through the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign
(Fr. Christoph Horn/mkf) At the beginning of May, approximately 35 pictures of the Pilgrim Mother were visiting with families in Southern Croatia. During his recent trip to Southern Croatia, Father Cristoph Horn, who is working for the spread of Schoenstatt in this post-war country in the Balkans, realized: "The Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother that is the best way I know to introduce Schoenstatt!" When Schoenstatt is to begin somewhere, the personal relationship with the Mother Thrice Admirable and the attachment to the stream of grace from her Shrine are crucial. Both are provided with the visit of the Pilgrim MTA.
Neither centers nor organized branches exist in Croatia. With the Pilgrim Mother, Father Horn explains, "people experience the visit of a real person - the Blessed Mother in person offering her friendship and company. Yet, the Campaign requests a certain childlike openness. Too smart persons don't understand. In Zagreb, a parish priest refused to give his permission to a lady who wanted to begin in his parish. He is a professor of Mariology. But wherever the people accept Mary in their homes, she is grateful and begins to work. That's what I experienced on my trip. I am sincerely happy to be called to work for her."
Personal Relationship and Attachment - Touching the Stream of Grace from the Shrine
One can give superb talks about Schoenstatt at a place where Schoenstatt does not yet exist, one can talk at length about the Founder, the spirituality - and yet nobody gets really excited. Everything remains a theory, "in the clouds," abstract. And Schoenstatt is not first of all knowledge, but a personal attachment. With the Campaign, the people at once receive the picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable and begin to pray to her. They get an idea about the Shrine as the frame resembles the shape of the Shrine, thus linking the picture to the source of grace. Some prayer cards and brochures passed on together with the pictures of the Pilgrim Mother provide additional information about Schoenstatt and the Movement. Attachment and involvement thus grow in life. "She is your Mother," Fr. Horn says to the people. "She comes to be with you."
Building the Church in the Homes: the Campaign in Mokosica
Fr. Vjekoslav Saravanja, parish priest in Klisevo, introduced Fr. Horn and the Campaign to several other parishes. In May ten Pilgrim MTA pictures traveled in the relatively small parish of Klisevo covering the entire parish. In the city of Dubrovnik, Fr. Horn gave a sermon in the parish by the port and was allowed to introduce the Campaign, although they already have an abundance of religious activities, including two Pilgrim Fatima statues. Fifty people came after Mass wanting to know more, among them several young people. One woman said: "God bless you, you bring us the Blessed Mother!"
Outside the city by the river, the Campaign was taken to a new quarter with big blocks: Mokosica. The parish priest, a Salesian Father, offered a warm welcome. In this young parish that does not yet have a church, the Blessed Mother obviously wants to begin and build the church from homes, from families. The Campaign is seen as a strong support for this goal.
In a more rural area east of Dubrovnik, in Cilipi, about 40 persons stayed after the Mass when the Campaign was introduced and wanted to know more about the practical aspects and how to begin. At the beginning of May, 25 pilgrim MTA pictures were visiting in this area. The Mother Thrice Admirable has conquered a starting point in Southern Croatia from where Schoenstatt can grow further. In March, 250 Pilgrim MTA's were visiting families in Croatia, Bosnia, and Yugoslav, with approximately 3,000 families involved.
Lay People Taking Responsibility
Another real success is the growing responsibility of the lay people. They organized a meeting of all leaders for one Sunday, and all those invited came. They prayed together, celebrated Holy Mass and spoke about important things. Also, a prayer circle is coming into existence. The people want to especially pray for Schoenstatt vocations from Croatia, most especially for Schoenstatt Sisters and Fathers. In August, a bus pilgrimage from Croatia to Schoenstatt is planned; approximately 60 - 70 people will come, although the financial situation for them is very difficult and the travel costs and their stay in Schoenstatt will mean big sacrifices for them. The longing to be in Schoenstatt urges them to come!
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
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