Schönstatt - Begegnungen

Life inciting Life – Contagious Joy and Mission Zeal

Schoenstatt Members Sharing about Apostolic Initiatives

Eleven Presentations on the Possibility of Moving the Mountains and Changing (a part of) the World
In 11 Statements wurden apostolische Projekte aus den Diözesen und Gliederungen vorgestellt
Foto: Brehm, POS © 2001

(mkf) It was applause of pride and gratitude that surged from the hall at the end of the "Apostolic Day". Fr Emge as moderator asked those who had shared their initiatives to again come to the stage. A day later, it is with obvious pride, at times also with a slight shame, that the representatives of the German Schoenstatt Movement speak about the experience of October 18, when eleven individuals or couples shared about apostolic initiatives. Pride – because Schoenstatt members have succeeded with major apostolic endeavors; shame because each individual could have done the same, maybe. And again and again the typical effect when pure life is shared: Life incites life.

A big floral bouquet on the stage of the aula is like a sign – Schoenstatt's apostolate has many colors. Whether the workplace and the professional work is discovered as one's own personal apostolic vocation; whether political challenges of embryonic stem cell research urge a Schoenstatt family -and many whom they succeed in winning as allies- to act; whether one priest's excitement gets 14,000 pilgrims at the over 30 Marian pilgrimage places in his diocese to join in a Marian devotion; whether a diocesan director promises Schoenstatt's active and reliable participation to the diocesan bishop -- All the very different initiatives had one common trademark. It is the joy and conviction of those who simply began to work, trusting in and experiencing the creative result of the "Nothing without you, nothing without us".

Subregens Martin Emge, Bamberg
Elisabeth Helmich (l) and Monika Terhaar organized a "Flower Power Day" for 90 girls age 9 -12, their siblings, parents and grandparents – and turned the audience into Flower Power people!
Frau Elisabeth Helmich, Münster und Frau Monika Terhaar, Münster ließen den "Flower-Power-Tag 2001" der Schönstatt-Mädchenjugend im Bistum Münster inmitten der Oktoberwoche lebendig werden.
More then 700 Participants in the Aula of the Adoration Church
Über 700 Teilnehmer in der Aula der Anbetungskirche
Foto: Brehm, POS © 2001

Natural Allies – team working with the Ecclesial Movements

It was work, it was stress, it was uncertainty, but most of all it was joy – this is the result of Siegrun Mai's experience in the preparation of the, so far, biggest meeting of the Ecclesial Movements in the Northern German dioceses. And the joy was mutual, so that the Ecclesial Movements of the diocese of Münster now have a common initiative group that gave the initial inspiration for the common initiative for the protection of human embryos, organized peace prayers on September 12, and is planning the Münster City Advent.

The teamwork of the Ecclesial Movements also became obvious in Father Treutlein's statement. Inspired by the idea of a network of love from the Shrines, the theme of last year's October Week, he worked for a common celebration at all Marian places of pilgrimage in the diocese of Würzburg. On October 7, more than 14,000 pilgrims gathered at 43 Marian places of pilgrimage, united in prayer. Candlelight processions through downtown Würzburg, creative cooperation of the Ecclesial Movements with the directors of the places of pilgrimage, and finally the situation of fear and insecurity and the new search for religious experiences made this initiative a "ray of light" not only in this diocese.

Professional Apostolate

Everyday sanctity, the discovery of one’s own profession and workplace as fields of apostolic commitment, is sometimes too self-understood to be seen as an opportunity for many. The biologist who makes her profession her life; the couple who works for socially handicapped children; the "practical worker" who teaches the trainees for profession and not for exam, for life and not for work only: They all apply Schoenstatt pedagogy to the situation of their specific work place – as well as the young woman who creates a climate of home and encouragement for start-up companies in the municipal technology center which she directs.

Responsibility for the young Generation

The Schoenstatt Boys' Youth presented the camps, the Schoenstatt Girls' Youth a "Flower Power Day" for girls ages 9 –12 that involved also girls ages 13-15 as responsible co-workers, parents, siblings and grandparents – thus reaching out or better, bringing the grace of the Shrine to far more than the 90 girls and 40 young co-workers of this day in May.

The Schoenstatt Boys' Youth have experienced generations of educational effect of the camps - for the young boys and the group leaders. Several mothers, siblings, friends, or persons who met during the camp apostolate have meanwhile joined the Schoenstatt movement. The self-constructed "camp shrine" brings the boys in active and vital contact with Jesus and Mary.

Love for the Church or: The Bishops are waiting for Schoenstatt

Restructuring of leadership patterns in the biggest German Schoenstatt diocese – with younger leaders and lay leaders of the regions complementing the priestly leadership – seem to be prerequisites for an effective love for the church. This was the impression of many who listened to the joint statement of Dietger Kuller, Brothers of Mary, and Fr. Georg Egle, diocesan director of the Rottenburg-Stuttgart diocese. In a conversation with the new bishop of the diocese, Bishop Gebhardt Fürst, Father Egle offered Schoenstatt's active and reliable contribution in two fields that are proven and backed up by life: the Schoenstatt Mothers' apostolate for the life that begins, and the Schoenstatt families' marriage preparation. "The bishops are waiting for Schoenstatt," Father Egle concluded. "We don't need to discuss the past battles with them. We need to leave the catacombs and be ready to actively serve the church!"

Concrete love for the Church also urged the Priests' communities to work for a Pastoral Congress in Schoenstatt in 2002. "We want to carry into the church what is alive in Schoenstatt," Dr. Hubertus and Maria Theresia Brantzen said. The Congress will focus on the practical faith in Divine Providence, the discovery of the "God of Life," made easy with a method that the Brantzens call "Tracing God". Four simple steps that they practiced with those present, encouraging them to test the method in group and course meetings (a good method of winning 700 co-workers!). Remember – share – discover – answer. Remember where God touched my life, what impressed and moved me; share something with the others; try and discover God in this event, and finally answering to this and listening to the answers of the others.

Trendsetter for a political activity – with Side Effects

The Initiative of the Ecclesial Movements for the Protection of Human Embryos has quickly become a trendsetter for a social and political activity of Schoenstatt and other Ecclesial Movements. Since the beginning of this initiative in June, a network grew that united Schoenstatt communities, Ecclesial Movements, parishes, Catholic and Protestant Organizations in Germany. As a side effect, Schoenstatt became known in all of these spheres. Ruth and Peter Fischer asked the over 700 delegates of the October Week to join in prayer for Ursula Doerpinhaus of the Focolare Movement. During this week she was in Berlin and tried to open doors for the final part of this initiative. On this day, October 18, she indeed found prominent promoters in influential positions who will provide access to the German Federal Press Conference as well as to Chancellor Schroeder’s aide resulting in a public passing on of the over 70,000 signatures collected. The news about this break-through reached Ruth and Peter Fischer when over 1,000 persons in Schoenstatt stood around the Original Shrine and renewed the Covenant of Love. During their presentation, Ruth and Peter Fischer quoted from over 600 letters and mailings they had received. The responses show that this

Initiative has created new apostolic dynamics in the Schoenstatt Movement, created some profound surprise effects that changed Schoenstatt's image in wide circles of the church and society, made Schoenstatt known in spheres so far untouched by Schoenstatt influence, and finally created teamwork among the Ecclesial Movements that had a strong unifying effect. This activity, they concluded, should be a beginning. The dominant issues of the world, all of them with a global character – violence, social justice, and the thread of human life – call for a strong and responsible response of an Apostolic Movement, and for allies who are found in the Ecclesial Movements.

English edition: Joan Biemert, New Franken, WI, USA

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