"Our Time with our Father and Founder"
Presentation on behalf of the 75th anniversary of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary
(mkf)Three weeks ago, the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary celebrated the 75th anniversary of their founding; this was the reason for the presentation on the evening of October 19. Videotaped testimonies of Schoenstatt Sisters about their time with Father Kentenich were the Schoenstatt Sisters' gift to the Ocober Week. Sr. M. Veronika Riechel presented the testimonies and lead through the the program.
The statue of Father Kentenich placed in front of the Father Kentenich House is the Schoenstatt Sisters' gift on behalf of their 75th anniversary. The history of the Schoenstatt Sisters is a time with Father Kentenich a time that is not over with the death of the Founder over 30 years ago.
With her sober sense of humor, Sr. M. Clarissa not only created an open and relaxed atmosphere; her testimony also mirrored the experience of many: neither was she as a postulant and novice too much excited with Father Kentenich whom all admired, nor with her young co-sisters "strange way of talking". And like Sr. Clarissa, many of those present experienced during the 90 minutes of the presentation that a word, an example, a deed of Father Kentenich became "theirs" and helped to a first or deeper encounter and understanding.
The song that since October 17, 1999, is combined with the Father Covenant and the attachment of the Father Eye symbol in the Founder Chapel, was intoned more often during the presentation: "You are the prophet, we follow you " The love for Mary that Father Kentenich ingrained into the young community from the very beginning, was the subject of Sr. Materna's testimony about her first encounter with the Founder.
Father and Educator
The Sisters experienced Father Kentenich as Father and Educator in the various époques of their history. The Covenant of Love as unifying bond for different mentalities this advice given to a young course was shared by Sr Nikola, Switzerland. She also experienced how Father Kentenich helped her find her way to a God of Love and Mercy who knows how to handle each weakness and failure of his children. To not wonder about the own limitations and faults, to not be confused and discouraged by such an experience, and to not get used to it these were points that Father Kentenich told her during herher first confession; she never forgot them.
Sr. Norberta's testimonies revealed Father Kentenich's empathy and ability to understand each mentality, temperament, and biography. He understood that she was upset with what she found to be a lack of maturity and order (I feel like with school girls!), as well as the lack of interest of the Sisters in Brazil on what he wanted to share about the juridical framework of their institute. A neighbor of the Sisters who loved alcohol a bit too much was not rejected or educated by Father Kentenich, but accepted and treated with benevolence up to a long sharing on alcoholic specialties in Brazil. They experienced the educator when he told them: "You must love the people, otherwise you cannot work apostolically!" His advice for the preparation for old age were down to earth he told the sisters to "not repeat the same things again and again like old people tend to do!"
Main Profession: Schoenstatt
Again and again, he taught the Sisters that their main profession is Schoenstatt. When his wish to organize a "big pilgrimage" for the next Covenant Day was not taken serious by the Sisters in Friedrichroda, he asked back and announced that he would give the sermon. With this "inspiration" and an enormous time pressure, the Sisters then began to advertise for a pilgrimage and 400 pilgrims came. Father Kentenich, Sr. Bernwarda said, spoke to them with enthusiasm and warmth. And that also a Jewish Rabbi can understand the Schoenstatt Covenant of Love was a lesson learned by Sr. Digna during a train ride with Fr. Kentenich in South Africa.
"...and you'll Receive an Answer""
Sr. Aloise, Australia, shared about the General Chapter with Father Kentenich in 1967 and his commitment to pay for the high travel costs of the Australian Sisters. A testimony from Sr. Digna, finally, opened the horizon to the lasting nearness of Father Kentenich. When, as a very young sisters, she was transferred to South Africa, she was worried. She would not be able to ask him what to do and how to decide like countless sisters and Schoenstatt members who never met Father Kentenich during his lifetime. When she told him her anxiety, he told her to write to him: "And when you don't get a reply you will yet get an answer!" Spiritually, she should tell him all and she would get the answer: "And this is the case up to now!"
Young Sisters from Germany, Burundi, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Russia came to the stage to thank for Father Kentenich's lasting guidance and the experience of a Father and Educator.
Father Beller closed the presentaion thanking both the Schoenstatt Sisters, and Father Kentenich, and added in prayer style: "Thank you for your nearness, and thank you for your nearness on Mount Sion, inHouse Regina, on Mount Moriah, and in our hearts."
Many remembered similar personal experiences as those shared on the videos from private hours in the Founder Chapel, reading of texts and prayers from Father Kentenich or personal encounters. The personal relationship to the Father and Founder, the personal "time with him" keeps his mission and charisma alive in the international Schoenstatt.