A Schoenstatt Energy Season for Children and their Parents
Family Vacation Week in Schoenstatt
(mkf) "It's cool that we could bring our parents along, they would have missed a lot without that!" - the seven-year-old boy on the playground by the House of the Families is not the only one of the 50 children to be convinced that this Vacation Week was just made for them - and that their parents had a good time, also. The children were the focus of the Family Vacation Week in the House of the Family in Schoenstatt from August 7 -15, under the motto: "Oasis in the Desert".
Fifteen families from the Rottenburg-Stuttgart diocese, with altogether 50 children, accompanied by a team of kindergarten teachers for the children's program, the diocesan leaders, Fr. Ludwig Lipp and Sr. Andita Potthast, spent a Schoenstatt Energy Season in Schoenstatt. The House of the Families, during this time, was marked by the theme "Oasis in the Desert" - an oasis in the entrance hall, with a big crafted camel, a spring, and desert plants; another oasis in the conference room, and where the kindergarten was established; yellow "desert caps" for parents and children as well as the house personnel, water bottles, desert passport -these and many more details made for an atmosphere of relaxed concentration on the central issue of the days: to recharge the batteries for family life, to find an oasis of energy for the walk through the desert and give family life a top priority in every day life.
Children the Center of Attention
On the final day of the week, each family got to work-play through a variety of games on the playground by the House of the Families. The children were the focus of attention, like during the whole week. Holger, 5 years: "The boat trip was great, and that the sun was shining!" Clemens, 11 years, liked his small camel best - all children crafted a small camel; these masterpieces were placed in the oasis of the entrance hall, where all met each morning after breakfast for a short meditation. "We had a night walk," adds Clemens, "without the parents of course!" - "We could play soccer!!!" As the children enjoyed their time, did the parents. "It was good to know that our children had a good time and were taken care of; so we could also relax and enjoy the time together, the talks, the discussions with others." Many of the families already knew each other from earlier vacation weeks, friendships have developed - among the children and parents. "Our children came back from the time they spent with the other children, full of energy and joy. That made us so happy," said a woman.
Energy for Every Day Life
"We came for the first time," a father says, "and we had never expected such an enrichment. Now I would like to go on, to know more about Schoenstatt. I have found a fountain in the desert, now I want to be a fountain myself for other families. I have decided to give up on a lot of useless activities and to do something for families in my parish, something like this. I do not yet really know how to begin, but I know I want to begin with Schoenstatt in my parish. This is something from life and for life. I have experienced the potential of our faith."
Many of the families share about one special experience during the days - a spiritual walk of several hours, with several rest stops for meditation, each one with a symbol related to the Israel's walk through the desert. "Tired, hot and dusty we arrived by the Tabor Shrine; loafs of round flat dough-cake lay there. We sat and were silent, it was like a greeting of God. Then, in one moment, Father Lipp said invited us to Jesus, and consecrated the bread. Bread of Life, Jesus in our midst, in the middle of the desert. I have never before experienced his personal closeness like then. Some of us had tears in their eyes. I will never forget this moment."
Inspiration for Education
"We got to know Schoenstatt with a seminar for marriage preparation," one women shared, "That was in 1982 or 1983; since then we kept in contact with Schoenstatt; we participated in the seminars on education. Schoenstatt has helped us a lot with the education of our children." In the morning program, a number of educational issues were discussed. "I got many new insights and practical help," one woman said. "It was not just theory, but really from life and for life!"
"We did not learn really new things," one man said, "we simply heard the old truths, but we need to hear that again and again to not lose track!"
Strengthening the Marriage Life
One of the couples had celebrated their 9th wedding anniversary in this week. All joined in a joyful congratulation. "It was not just the fun," one man said, "we learned that marriage is special, that nine years of faithfulness are a reason to celebrate, that we value marriage."
"We finally had time to talk with each other," one man said. "We are so busy at home and often the time to talk with each others falls through. And to be honest - sometimes we just like it this way, we don't want to touch sore spots. Here, we finally had the time to talk, and it was very good that we did so."
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