Schönstatt - Begegnungen

The Tuparendá Phenomenon - the 18th of October in Paraguay

More than 40,000 pilgrims celebrated the Patronal Feast of the Schoenstatt Shrine on the 18th of October

October 18 in Tuparenda - celebrating the Covenant of Love and the anniversary of the Shrine
18. Oktober in Tuparenda: das Liebesbündnis feiern und den Weihetag des Heiligtums
The Shrine is decorated with the flag of Paraguay: love for the Mother Thrice Admirable becomes effective in love for the country and ist people
Das Heiligtum ist geschmückt mit der Flagge Paraguays - Liebe zur Gottesmutter von Schönstatt wird konkret im Einsatz für das Land und die Menschen
The Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign is present with the Auxiliary, and thousands of pictures in the hands of missionaries
Die Kampagne der Pilgernden Gottesmutter ist überall gegenwärtig - Tausende von Pilgerbildern sieht man an diesem Tag
For the Mass in the evening, all pilgrims light candles, and the whole area is illuminated
Für die Messe am Abend wird das ganze Gelände erleuchtet, alle Pilger haben brennende Kerzen in der Hand
Proudly presenting their flag...
Stolz wird die Fahne getragen...
40,000 pilgrims came to the Shrine on a normal work day
40.000 Pilger an einem ganz normalen Arbeitstag
The poster of the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign with the year's motto: Mother, count on me - dear country, here I am!
Plakat der Kampagne der Pilgernden Gottesmutter mit dem Jahresthema der Schönstattbewegung: Mutter, rechne mit mir; geliebtes Vaterland, ich bin bereit.
Fotos: Badano, Pereira © 2001

PARAGUAY (Fr. Antonio Cosp) On the 18th of October, the feastday of the Virgin of Schoenstatt was celebrated in Tuparendá. This festivity promoted honesty, doing good to those in need, and putting an end to all divisions in society. Under the motto "Mother, Count on Me! Dear Homeland, Here I Am!" the Schoenstatt family petitioned all Paraguayan faithful to unite at the Tuparendá shrine and to twice celebrate this special date since it was also the 20th anniversary of the blessing of the shrine. 40,000 pilgrims arrived at the shrine on a work-day. Thousands of Pilgrim Mother images from the Rosary Campaign in the arms of their coordinators made MARY evermore present at the site.

At each October 18th , a multitude of faithful arrives at the National Schoenstatt Shrine in Tuparendá to offer MARY some special sacrifice or petition, to give thanks for favors received, to utter a prayer to God for a special need, or simply looking for a moment of peace and reflection. Entire families, especially calling attention to children and elderly, carrying the image of the Pilgrim Mother, come with much devotion and faith to participate in the liturgical celebrations. A message from the Apostolic Schoenstatt Movement reads, "Today we want to reach all Paraguayan homes with the blessing of the Virgin". On the 18th of October the Family of Paraguay celebrated a great feastday in honor of the first Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother which was sealed by Fr. Kentenich and a group of youths, and for the 20th anniversary of the shrine which was blessed on the 18th of October 1981, by Bishop Ismael Rolón.

Celebrating with Thousands of Pilgrims

The celebration began at 9 A.M. with a mass officiated by Fr. Antonio Cosp, national director of the movement in Paraguay. Everything was in place since the early morning hours: parking lots for buses and cars, the pilgrims’ hall, religious store, cafeteria, the Rosary Campaign, the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat, guardians and helpers. Priests heard confessions. Bishop Claudio Giménez officiated at the 4 P.M. mass which each year was especially held for the elderly and infirm persons. The main eucharistic celebration was held at 6 P.M. in which Bishop Adalberto Martínez officiated. The Rosary Campaign, whose main booth was located next to the entrance of Tuparendá’s future church dedicated to the Blessed Trinity, placed on all pilgrim images a small , white and transparent stone as a reminder of its visit on this day.

Later and on the way to the shrine they were able to pass through the portico with their pilgrim images convinced they would encounter a better Paraguay, more fraternal and in solidarity — leaving behind the old man in order to be reborn as complete, new men - leaving behind weaknesses, miseries and personal sins. Then all of the pilgrims gathered to pray for the country, for families, for the health of their loved ones and for world peace.

Aspects of An Exceptional Phenomenon

Fr. Antonio Cosp highlighted some points regarding what he calls "The Tuparendá Phenomenon":

  • 40,000 pilgrims arrive at the shrine on a work-day. On the Sundays in October, the number of pilgrims doubles.
  • 800 Schoenstatters work to receive them and make preparations during two months prior.
  • The internal communication system collapses as it is inundated with calls from those who want to help in any way they can.
  • A multitude is enthusiastic about building the Holy Mary of the Trinity Church in a country which has gone from economic recession to depression and with no immediate hope of recovery in sight.
  • The bishops gladly accept to preside at the masses and in their homilies support the preaching suggestions of the shrine’s pastoral team.
  • At 10 P.M. the last organizers remain tearing down the indispensable and there is no trash on the ground.
  • The afternoon mass for the infirm has never been so well attended. Each infirm person is greeted at the parking lot and escorted by an internal team member to the mass site. They, along with the large number of children, are the privileged ones.
  • Thousands of pilgrim images from the Rosary Campaign make MARY evermore present at the site.
  • The shrine is decorated and partly covered by a large flag of Paraguay and the country’s presence is manifested in a thousand ways.
  • The newspapers announce the event and on that day they print a large image of the MTA with the Schoenstatt family motto.
  • The motto and the emphasis for the year is carried out all year at the National Shrine and most especially on that day.
  • The sad part is that this year, the TV station was not able to transmit live the
  • mass for the infirm. In addition, the confessors could not keep up.
  • The "quinchito" of the MTA (typical country house's open air lodge) is inaugurated so that the faithful may leave their Symbols for favors received and where they may leave candles and touch the image of the MTA.
  • In addition, the pastoral council for the shrine and the October 18th team think that this is only the beginning.

More Than Words: Dear Homeland, Here I Am!

In the morning homily, Fr. Antonio Cosp called each one of the Paraguayans to fulfill the task of working for the country, "Beginning with the building of the family because the people are what is most important in the changing of a nation." He emphasized again that the second part of the motto—"Dear Homeland, Here I Am!"—is not being fulfilled in the nation "because we Paraguayans are not assuming our task," especially "the politicians, that is why they have such a bad image among the people". The need for employment is the main petition of those who come on pilgrimage to the shrine. This situation which reveals the acute socioeconomic crisis, "Is because someone neglected to develop this country throughout the years, decades even. We have not developed it, thus we come with our needs and the Virgin has to help us. But she needs each Paraguayan to develop our country, not only those in the government, in parliament, in judicial power or the enterprise sector". He also added "We, the children of God, are called, each one in his own place, to offer to the Virgin and to God our intelligence, our family and our energy for a new Paraguay. Paraguay needs 5 and ˝ million contributions. The Paraguay we want depends on your small contribution". The words of Bishop Adalberto Martínez at the evening mass were surprising because of the harsh criticism to the immorality which plagues the nation. With poor health and deficient education, social and human development is and will continue being the great lie and the false promises of the proselytizing campaigns. He indicated that "The promises of the next municipal elections for attending to these urgencies and others should not remain as utopias of the platform elections; it would betray the confidence of the citizens". The forceful tone used by the bishop was made even more evident when he manifested his concern over the lack of employment and lack of opportunities which worry families and the strong number of youth who look without hope toward an uncertain future which will continue negating possibilities for personal and community progress.

He pointed out that "A great majority of our youth and young unemployed adults are forced to migrate, to remain idle or dedicate themselves to illicit endeavors. Social inequalities grow rapidly in our country. Few or hardly anyone has anything to survive with. Paraguayan families receive the strong impacts of the bad and illegal administration of stolen goods, evasions and diversions of public funds for the benefit of thieves".

Visit of the Virgin of Caacupé

As always, on Sunday, October 28th, MARíA OF CAACUPé visited the Tuparendá Shrine thus culminating the celebrations of the month of the covenant. Then, accompanied by hundreds of pilgrims, a band and fireworks, she made it known to all her children that Tuparendá is indeed a "Dwelling of God".

Before a multitude of pilgrims, Fr. Ludovico Tedeschi celebrated a mass at 9 A.M. and taking again in his homily the message of the 18th of October he reminded the Paraguayans that "Our strength is in God and not in military or economic power" and insisted in that only through love will it be possible to build the Paraguay desired by all. He emphasized, "We believe that the love for the Virgin will give us the strength to change our nation and to separate the grain from the chaff".

In that sense, the priest underlined that "The power of love is stronger to remove the chaff before the grain grows"; the reason why, he continued, "we are here today united before the Virgin so that she can awaken in us that power of love".

He also warned the Paraguayans to maintain coherence in their daily lives with the faith that they profess since they should give witness that Christ is present in their lives.

"Love is demonstrated through acts, not words, and the power of that love will really have the power to change our dear Paraguay", he added.

Finally, he petitioned the Paraguayans to fix their eyes on God, "Since with the strength which He gives us through His love, we will build the nation we want for our children".

Translation: Carlos Cantu, LaFeria, Texas, USA

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