Together we are Strong
Get-together by the Shrine of the Lower Rhine area
(Gabriele Sudermann, Inge Cleven) On July 1, a Schoenstatt get-together took place by the Shrine of the Lower Rhine area, Northern Germany – it was a thrilling experience for the coordinators, not only because up to the last minute nobody how many would come, but much more because it was a first-time experiment: the "Children's Party by the Shrine" sponsored by the Professional Women, and the "Get to know the Shrine Encounter" of those who belong the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign only recently started in the area, were combined by those in charge, ending up with a "Open Feast" by the Shrine for all. And that's what it was in the end – integrating a parish choir, random hikers and spontaneous visitors. A small and not perfect but promising endeavor!
Only two days before the responsible persons were not sure whether the feast would take place at all: "Our feast has a problem. Few people booked so far, Petra cancelled the bus today. I am thinking what else we could do to get people excited and motivated to come!" They went on with courage, trusting in the Blessed Mother's spontaneity. And it was good so. Mail on the other day: "Meanwhile we have several bookings: 11 children and, together with the team, approximately 25 adults. And earlier the day a parish choir is there, maybe they stay. We could start with a sing-along …"
... And the parish choir stayed there
The get-together began in front of the Shrine, because it would not have been enough space in the Shrine for all. Next to meanwhile 13 children and approximately 20 adults, the already mentioned parish choir had chosen the Schoenstatt Center Oermter Berg for their summer outing. The choir volunteered to open the feast with some songs, a music team from the Professional Ladies, equipped with guitars and flutes, has the same idea – so the choir and the Professional Women took turns with songs for Mary and each other. The children were encouraged to accompany the songs with gestures, and the adults followed their example.
Sharing about Religious Practice in the Family, Karl Leisner, Pilgrim Mother …
After coffee break, nobody stayed in the house – the park was too tempting on a sunny day like this. Various games for the children, with and without balls were offered, causing a lot of laughter and noise. The discussion groups headed for the shades of the big trees. So the participants enjoyed the sun and slight breeze while sharing about religious practice in the family, the visit of the Pilgrim Mother, and the mission of Karl Leisner, whose home town Goch is only few kilometers from the Schoenstatt Center, as well as Xanten, the town where he is buried. Others continued with a Marian sing-along, of course also outside.
Father Norbert Hofacker gave a presentation on Karl Leisner by the Karl Leisner memorial. After some time, three Sisters from a religious order, who were walking by joined the presentation. They had come here for the first time. The Meier family had prepared the discussion group on religious practice in the family; the participants were convinced to have found the best tree's shade for their sharing! As the members of one group of the Pilgrim Mother Campaign met on their own to get to know the Shrine, the discussion group on experiences with the Pilgrim mother was too small. So those interested in this subject were invited to join the sing-along. Thus, songs and sharing about the work of the Pilgrim Mother took turns, enriching all participants. The songs as well as the laughter of the children were heard in the whole area around the Shrine!
A couple from Wesel spontaneously joined the sing-along. They said that they would often come to the Shrine to take in the atmosphere, although they would not really like the picture; they found it amazing this picture, through the Pilgrim Mother Campaign, is so widespread in the world and in Germany also.
Theater for the Little Ones – and a Personal Blessing in the Shrine
The highlight of the children's program was a theater about robbers, stolen crowns and guardian angels; in the end, all worked out well of course.
The afternoon closed in the Shrine, where the children shared about their experiences. The adults had the opportunity to write petitions and thanks on papers and make them a gift for the Blessed Mother. The children had meanwhile memorized the songs so well that their excitement was contagious – so also the adults sang of God's great and marvelous love. At the end, each child was personally blessed and received a picture of the Blessed Mother.
Together we are strong – the title of the theater could also be the title of the entire feast that was prepared together and became an experience of community and sharing cross the borders of branches: open Shrine!
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