"Standing at our Side, Speaking to Us, Guiding Us"
Inspired by a Report about a Covenant Day in Germany: the Pilgrim Mother for the Blind Set Out from Argentina to Virginia, USA
(mkf) In June 2001 during the annual "Journey of Love" convention of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA, a young blind pianist from Virginia, Carlos Alberto Ibay, for the first time in his life could 'see' the picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable (MTA) of Schoenstatt. He received the "Pilgrim Mother for Persons with Visual Impairment", a crafted wooden relief picture of the Pilgrim Mother. He already has a blind girl in mind near his home who will receive the image to get to know the MTA. Inspired by a report on schoenstatt.de about a woman from Vallendar, Germany, who received such a picture during the Covenant Renewal, Elfi Stitz, the coordinator of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign in Virginia, had asked to get such a picture from Argentina, where the picture passed around in Germany came from.
"I felt so inspired by the report on the Pilgrim MTA for the blind! So much so that I e-mailed to a friend in Argentina to find out how I could get some of these. It looks like this is something the MTA would like to start here, too, in the USA; she will open the doors," wrote Elfi Stitz a few days after she had read the report.
Creating a Family – in Germany, Argentina, USA
Helene Schlüter, who takes the Pilgrim Mother for the blind to four persons with visual impairment in a home for elderly in Vallendar, would not believe that her commitment inspired people in the USA to also ask for such a picture. "But I understand; whenever I take the Pilgrim Mother to the blind people, I experience their tremendous joy when they touch the picture and when their fingers follow the lines of Mary's mantle, her veil, when they softly touch the child in her arms and her face. I am so grateful for these people in Argentina who one day sent this picture here!"
In Argentina, people with visual impairment - children in special schools, families with blind relatives, individual persons - have received the visit of the Pilgrim Mother since 1995. This form of the Schoenstatt Rosary Pilgrim Mother Campaign began in the Shrine in Villa Ballester. From there on June 13, Rosita Ciola sent two pictures to Elfi Stitz in Virginia, USA – a few weeks before the 100th picture of the Pilgrim Mother for blind people was to be sent out. In 1998, the Auxiliary Pilgrim Mother for the Blind was presented to the Campaign in the Shrine in Villa Ballester and has since visited numerous schools for blind children and youth, Rehabilitation Centers, Cultural Centers for people with visual impairment, workshops and institutes in many places in Argentina. In December, the Auxiliary Pilgrim Mother for the Blind will be crowned in gratitude for all she has given to those who receive and take her to others.
Presentation of the Pilgrim Mother for the Blind to Chuckie Ibay
In June, Carmencita (Menchie) Ibay, of Fairfax, Virginia, took part in the "Journey of Love" convention in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA. Her son, Carlos Alberto (Chuckie) Ibay was with her. Carlos Alberto Ibay, 21, has captivated his audiences with his inspirational talent in playing the piano through his extraordinary performances and expressive interpretation of music by various composers. He has shared his talents to benefit several worthy causes since age 9 and has performed at various places around the Washington-Metropolitan area including New York, Connecticut and West Virginia. In the year 2000, he was invited to give a performance at the opening of the Rachmaninoff Center of Musical Culture in Novgorod, Russia, the birthplace of Sergej Rachmaninoff.
Carlos was barely 2 pounds and 3 months premature at birth. He struggled for life, and over exposure to oxygen in a nursery incubator caused the complete loss of his eyesight. At age 2, he was spotted climbing up an organ bench and without searching for the keys, surprised his parents when he played on the organ a perfect rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." He received Braille Music instruction for three years. Chuckie sang and played the organ during the liturgies of the Journey of Love Convention in Waukesha. Participants of the meeting frequently surrounded both, enjoying Chuckie and admiring his mother. Elfi Stitz shared: "Chuckie relished all this attention and love and enjoyed that he could practice speaking several languages with the Schoenstatt Fathers, Sisters and participants!"
During one of the Masses, Chuckie received the Pilgrim Mother image for the blind. He was so surprised and so pleased. He already has a blind girl in mind near his home who will receive the image to get to know our MTA.
In fall, he will take the picture with him to New York where he will continue his musical education at theMannes College of Music beginning in fall 2001.
Following the Words of The Mother
During the piano concert, Chuckie placed the image on the piano and a statue of St. Cecilia (the patron saint of music) at her feet. The concert was a profound experience for everyone.
Father Gerold Langsch best observed and beautifully expressed during his homily in one of the Masses what is happening between Carmencita (Menchie) and her son: She stands at his side during his concerts and whispers words into Chuckie's ears. And, Father Langsch said, is that not what our Blessed Mother is doing with us? She is standing at our side, speaking to us, guiding us. And should we not listen and follow her advice as Chuckie follows the words of his mother?
With contributions from Elfi Stitz, Virgina, USA, and Rosita Ciola, Argentina
English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, Wisconsin, USA
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