Schönstatt - Begegnungen

"With the Eyes of my Soul I see Your Picture"

Birth of a New Form of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign: A Pilgrim Mother picture for Persons with Visual Impairment

Escuela Especial "Hellen Keller", Paraná: Evangelina saluda a la Virgen y la cococe con sus manitos
Sonderschule "Hellen Keller", Paraná: Evangelina erkennt die Gottesmutter mit ihren Händern
La Auxiliar de los ciegos en la tumba de don Joao Pozzobon, Sept. 1998: "Don Joao que sufró toda su vida dificuldades es su vista, habrá implorado en su tierra que ELLA manifesta su misión!"
By the tomb of Don Pozzobon, Sept. 1998: "Don Joao, who suffered from visual problems all his life may here have interceded that she could show her real mission!"
Am Grab von Don Pozzobon, Sept. 1998: "Don Joao, der lebenslang unter Sehproblemen gelitten hat, hat hier wohl dafür gesorgt, dass sie ihre wahre Sendung erfüllen kann!"
Reconocimiento de la imagen de la MTA de Schoenstatt por alumnos, Instituto para Ciegos, Corrientes
Students of the Institute "Valentin Haüy", Corrientes, recognizing the picture of the MTA
Schüler des Blinden-Instituts "Valentin Haüy" in Corrientes ertasten das Bild der Gottesmutter von Schönstatt
Miguel Ángel, Bahía Blanca,
misionero del Virgen Peregrina
missionary of the Pilgrim MTA
Missionar der Pilgernden Gottesmutter
En la Escuela Especial de ciegos, Bragado
Special school in Bragado
Sonderschule in Bragado
El presidente del CE.NO.VI, en el Chaco, da uns cálida bienvenida a la MTA
The president of the Socio-Cultural Center for Persons with visual impairment, Chaco, welcomes the MTA
Willkommensgruß des Präsidenten des Kultur- und Kreativzentrums für Blinde, Chaco
En la Escuela de Ciegos y disminuidos visuales, Patagonia
Children of a Special school in Patagonia with the Auxiliary
Kinder einer Blinden-Sonderschule in Patagonien begegnen der Gottesmutter
Foto: PressOffice Schönstatt, hbre © 2001

(Rosita Ciola) "Thank you, Mother, for being here! This wooden relief picture of the Blessed of Mother of Schoenstatt has been a real joy for the persons with visual impairment in the Center, because by touching the contours we could get to know you, discover your mantle and ask you to protect us. Thank you for your presence that we felt and the strength you gave us through your love." – "Mother, when you came, my mother could feel your presence with her heart, through the words that I said with such an emotion, and with the eyes of my soul I could see your picture." Two out of countless testimonies, often written in Braille, in the book that accompanies the Auxiliary of Persons with visual impairment in Argentina. Many could be added that express what the visit of the Pilgrim mother means to the blind persons – one of the modes of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign of the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt in Argentina that, like all of the modes, surged from life - for life.

Persons with visual impairment - children in special schools, families with blind relatives, individual persons - receive the visit of the Pilgrim Mother; the wooden relief picture of the Mater gives also to them the possibility to know and see her; they touch the relief, discovering for the first time her face, her mantle, Baby Jesus. Several persons with visual impairment, who have experienced the grace of Mary's visit, dedicated themselves as missionaries to carry the picture to other blind persons. One of them is Miguel Ángel, of Coronel Dorrego, Bahía Blanca, who is blind since 15 years: "During this time of being in the dark I always prayed that God would lift me up and guide me. On December 12, I dedicated myself as missionary of our Lady of Schoenstatt, because she had chosen me to be her feet, bringing her to all the houses where persons with sight problems live. So that, when they allow her to enter, she would help them to enter into her gentle heart. On this day, in the Shrine in Paso Mayor, I felt a profound and deep emotion, and all I know is that, when I was given the picture of the Blessed Mother, I began to cry and felt an infinite peace. This was a blessing of God who thus expressed that he had chosen me to carry the Mater where ever someone would be who needs her."

Different Plans for Picture

The history of the Campaign of the Persons with visual impairment reads like a chapter from a book on Divine Providence.

In1983, on a Covenant day, Odette Vallendor took part in a Mass celebrated by Fr. Benjamín Pereira, and offered a wooden relief picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable, in a form similar to that of a Pilgrim Mother picture. She said that a friend had given it t her mother, and that this picture had been with her mother up to her final moments. She gave this picture to the then responsible persons of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign of Villa Ballester, Haydeé and Ricardo Millore. Odette wanted to donate this picture to the Campaign because her mother, Gaby Santer, was one of the first ladies who prayed the rosary in Ballester, with the approval of the Founder, and Odette thought that it might be interesting to initiate a documentation; but obviously the Mater had different plans for this picture.

Some time after this, two North Americans, blind persons, Sara and Francis Lavalle came to the Shrine in Ballester to dedicate themselves as missionaries. They came there together with Tita Rodríguez and Carmen Klobovs, members of the Movement in Ballester, and relatives of these two ladies.

When they were in the Shrine, they recognized all of the symbols with their hands. Seeing this, Carmen remembered the relief picture that was in the sacristy, went to get it and then was witness of the moment when these two blind ladies – who were not born blind – with tremendous joy recognized the "mantle of the Virgin and the Child".

This moment of emotion and joy made those present thinking whether a similar experience would and should be possible for other persons with visual impairment. In March 1994, Tita, then Diocesan Coordinator of the Campaign, spoke to the representatives of the Campaign and gave witness of her experience. As they heard this, they at once felt the urge to have similar pictures constructed, but the initial plans fell through. From the sacristy, the picture – the Blessed Mother –kept working…

A New Mode of the Campaign: "The Campaign of the Persons with Visual Impairment"

In 1995, the Millores participated in the National Convention of the Leaders of the Campaign, where representatives from the whole country got together. Following Tita's suggestion, they took the wooden relief picture along to share about the birth of a new mode. Before leaving, Haydeé spoke with Odette Vallendor to learn more. She informed her that the name of the friend who had given the picture to her mother was Otilia Köstner. When they arrived in Nuevo Schoenstatt, they "by chance" ran into Patricia Köstner, a relative of Otilia, who told them that she was also the one who had crafted the picture. During a meeting with Sister Gabriela in Ballester, she was told about the picture. This time the astonishment of the participants was even greater learning that Otilia was the mother-in-law of Anna, a sister of Sister Gabriela. So they asked Sister Gabriela to find out whether more pictures would exist and if Mrs. Köstner could maybe craft more.

Finally, on July 15, on a tremendously cold and rainy day, the Community of Ballester got to know Mrs. Otilia Köstner, who despite of her age had preserved the ability of her hands. In a very generous way, she had created ten pictures for the Campaign and brought them personally to the Shrine, where they were received by Zulma Andrada, the new responsible person of the Campaign, and by Walter Piera, in charge of the mode for the sick ones. Also a number of other persons were present who were touched by what they experienced. Rosa Andrada said: "What an important day, and what a luck to be present and witness of the beginning of a new mode of the Campaign."

Different Plans for a Picture – Again

In July 1998, Rosita Ciola ordered a wooden image to be created as a donation for the second wayside Shrine to be erected in Palomar. This image was meant for the blind persons who would want to visit the Mater in this place. The picture was ready before the schedules day and was brought by Father Alberto de la Torre, Military Chaplain of the Air Force, who was deeply impressed when he saw it. Rosita, when she saw it, thought: "It is so beautiful … resembling an Auxiliary." It was just a thought, as she was convinced that this picture would be for the wayside shrine.

On August 29, Rosita participated in a meeting of the wider Council in Ballester, and took this picture along. A big surprise for those present, who welcomed her in a climate of joy and emotion that was hard to describe. After the meeting, Ricardo Millore and Miguel Greppi suggested to take the picture to Brazil on the come pilgrimage. Rosita agreed and asked Zulma Andrada specially to take the picture to the tomb of Don Pozzobon in order to "load" many graces. In Brazil, the picture was taken to all of the places where Don Pozzobon was, and presided over the Illumined Rosary in the Tabor Shrine.

On the return to Argentina, she was asked to take the picture to Florencio Varela for the annual feast of the Campaign. That's where the Mater went, on a very rainy day. Approximately 2,000 persons were present on this "historic" day, when the Blessed Mother clearly showed her will. The picture was placed in the hall, together with the other Auxiliaries. In the afternoon, crowned with a rosary, the picture was placed on a desk in the hall, with the Blessed Sacrament at its side. Many of those who saw the picture thought that this were a new Auxiliary. And the Mater began to reveal her plans...

Mercedes Bonorino, a member of the Movement who sincerely loves the Campaign turned to Rosita asking her whether this were a new Auxiliary. She, in astonishment, answered that it were simply a picture for a wayside shrine in Palomar. Mercedes, in a respectful and pleasant way, told Rosita that because this picture had the form of a Pilgrim Mother it "must no" stay in one place only. At once, Rosita spoke with P.Guillermo Carmona, hoping he would help her in this moment of confusion and pain - but he did not answer as he, also, had understood the Mater's wish to set out and visit her children...

She Longs To Visit her Children

This feast finalized with the Holy Mass in the Church if God the Father. When the picture was taken from the conference hall and brought to the church, many persons approached and touched the relief of the MTA, asking for favors, thanking her and also bringing their little ones, asking the Mater to protect them. Rosita, holding the picture firmly in her arms, seeing all that began to meditate on what had happened before, and while the people kept walking by the picture of the MTA, she recalled the words of the talk that Fr. Carmona had given: "Today, with the rain, is a day of many graces. May each raindrop turn into blessings..." With this, the Mater gave to Rosita the grace to understand what others had understood long before: She wants to set out and visit her children.

Immediately afterwards, she spoke to the artist who had made the picture, asking him whether it would be possible to create a similar one in a material that would not perish. So, José Zerovnik made e replica of the picture in the same form that could be taken for the wayside shrine in Palomar.

The Auxiliary Pilgrim Mother for the Persons with Visual Impairment was officially offered in Ballester, in the Holy Mess on December 8, 1998. Her first visit was to Tucumán on the benediction of their Shrine on April 18, 1999.

"Welcome in Our Home"

The Auxiliary Pilgrim Mother of the Persons with visual impairment has visited numerous schools for blind children and youth, like the Escuela Especial Nº 26 for blind children in Corrientes, the Escuela Especial Luis Braille on Tucumán, the School for Blind and visually impaired persons in Comodoro Rivadavia; she was in the Center Amigos del Ciego "Margarita Higa" in Oberá, in the Rehabilitation "Santa Rosa de Lima" and in the Workshop for Blind Persons "Santos Mártires Juan del Castillo y Alonso Rodríguez" in Posadas, and in numerous other centers for rehabilitation, workshops, institutes for blind persons in many places of Argentina.

The director of the Special School "Luis Braille" in Tucumán wrote:

"Wit great joy we received the visit of the First Auxiliary Pilgrim Mother from Schoenstatt for blind persons to the Escuela Luis Braille de San Miguel in Tucumán. We pray that she blesses and protects us, strengthen the hearts of the parents of our students, that she illumines the path of the teachers and animates the spirit of our students. Blessed Mother, we entrust ourselves to you, on the eve of the 80th anniversary of our school in the Center of Tucumán, so that you be our leader and protection."

A note written in Braille, in the Institute for Persons with Visual Impairment "Valentín Haüy", in Corrientes, reads: "Thanks for your visit, our Mother! We ask you for peace, love and work for all, for solidarity and understanding of the handicapped ones. Your children: personnel and participants of the rehabilitation program, Early Stimulation program, and kindergarten for children with blind parents."

In this institution, a small Pilgrim Mother for the Blind is visiting. With obvious outcome: the MTA has worked profound transformations in the climate of the institute and the relationships of the blind persons. The different origins of the handicapped persons make for a heterogeneous group on view of age, social and economical state. But all of them have a common ground in the Mother of God.

The testimonies speak of the suffering and the confidence of the blind persons as well as of those to whose care they are entrusted. In the Institute "Román Rosell" of San Isidro they wrote: "Keep protecting us, and don't let us alone. In this place, where one day your picture stayed with us, the hearts of your children remain grateful for all. You are always with us. Protect our blind players who participate in the come World Football Championship in Spain."

But most of all, the testimonies show the mother live of the Pilgrim Mother, her love for all of the persons receiving her visit, experiencing her closeness and her sincere love, like little Florencio who wrote in Braille: "Welcome in our home. I ask you to give us love and health. I also ask you for Dad's health and that of my grandparents. Also I ask you to help me at school and in each moment, and also my brother. Thank you, dear Mother, for blessing my house."

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