The Schoenstatt Shrine of Light - a Little Oasis in a Great, Troubled City.
Series of Workshops Offered: To Find My Inner
(Sr. M. Isabel Bracero) The month of September has become an unforgettable month for the Schoenstatt Family here in New York because this was the time when Father Kentenich came and visited New York, on September 16, 1965. Now, it is also marked by the tragic event of September 11, 2001. These two events, on two different dates stand in contrast, one next to the other, reminding us all of the powerful inbreak of supernature in our lives. On the one side, the Schoenstatt Family of New York experienced great jubilation upon Father Kentenich’s arrival 36 years ago when a plane arrived bringing to us the person of our father and founder. On the other side, we have seen the shattering arrival of two planes, which brought tragedy and destruction to New York City. On November 6, the Schoenstatt Family of New York and beyond celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Shrine of Light (Nov. 6, 1977) – a little oasis in a great, troubled city.
On September 16, this year, the Schoenstatt Family was able to come together to commemorate Father Kentenich’s arrival and to pray for the victims of the tragedy. The sorrow caused by this event goes through the soul of each and every New Yorker. In contrast to this sorrow we recall the great jubilation with which all New Yorkers awaited the coming of Father Kentenich. At that time Father Kentenich came from Milwaukee on his way to Rome. Father Kentenich arrived on New York soil bringing to us his person, his love, and his message as a father, as a friend and as an ambassador.
He Came As A Father
When Father Kentenich arrived in New York, he gave the little time he had to the people who came to meet him, as a father concerned for his children. Many of the people who wanted to see father were supposed to go to work on that day, but they just simply took the day off to go to the airport and welcome Father Kentenich. Father Kentenich arrived at the Kennedy airport in the early afternoon. The people had gone to the airport in two busses, which they rented for the occasion. For some of the men and women who welcomed Father Kentenich at the airport, it was like receiving their own father. The difficult trip of more than 20 hours by car, at that time, was a great sacrifice for these Schoenstatt children. However, the joy of being able to visit Father Kentenich made them forget the tiresome journey. Therefore, when Father Kentenich stopped here for those few hours and spoke to the people, he did not do it like a founder who came to look over the development of the movement, but it was like our good father. He spoke to us at the 1000 Castleton Avenue house in Staten Island; there he asked us: "Are we really a family? Have we become a family?" He reminded us of our childlike attitude and how we have to remain children of our heavenly Mother. He said that the Blessed Mother calls to each one of us from her Schoenstatt Shrines saying: "if you become like children, then I can use you…" Father Kentenich continued to speak and to greet the people the way in which only a fatherly priest could do. Some of the people who were there on that occasion recall how he even tossed candies and rosaries up into the air for people to take home. It was a feastday for the people of New York, who came to meet him that day.
A Friend and An Ambassador of the Mother Thrice Admirable
Father Kentenich also came to us as a friend. He paid a friendly visit to the New Yorkers. He said: "We all know some common courtesy…You have already visited me so often, and I know well that you were not only looking for and visiting the Blessed Mother of Schoenstatt, you were also looking for and visiting me. Then, it is only fitting, only proper, that if you have visited me, then I should one day visit you. We want to make sure that we always remain courteous Schoenstatters!" With this there was much laughter.
On September 16, 1965, Father Kentenich also came as an ambassador, an ambassador of the message of our Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt. When he addressed the New Yorkers, he reminded us about the fact that it is the task of the Blessed Mother to make us feel at home in her shrines. And that, therefore, the New Yorkers must beg her for a shrine. Father Kentenich’s words kindled new life for the first growth of a movement to develop. His own love for the Blessed Mother began to pulsate among the New Yorkers. As he said, it almost seemed as though all those gathered in the house could, "hear the heart of the Blessed Mother now beat in the heart of the family".
"Not Only our Buildings, Our Spirit and Our Hope Must be Renewed"
This is the heart we want to listen to as we move into a time marked by uncertainty and uneasiness around the New York City area after the terrorist attack. Our shrine has truly become a haven of peace for many people who have discovered the little chapel in their search for God after the tragic events of September 11. The New York Schoenstatt Family has now grown deeper in the conviction that the light of faith, which Father Kentenich wanted to see burning in our hearts, must reach beyond evil and disaster. Otherwise, it would have been very difficult for him to speak to the people of New York about family joy and the fruits of sacrifice. Because, Father Kentenich came to us after having seen the drastic contrast between destruction and renewal, in the years prior to his visit. This is the present experience of every one here in New York. Not only our lives and buildings but our spirit and our hope must be renewed after much having seen so much destruction.
Workshop: "To find my Inner Balance" Offered
After the tragic events the Schoenstatt Sisters living in Staten Island are glad to be able to offer to women of the area the opportunity for spiritual renewal. On September 25, 2001, we began a series of workshops of nine weeks based on the talks given in Germany, "To Find My Inner Balance". The participants expressed their gratefulness, since they feel a great need for any source of strength, clarity, and security. For those who were at the Shrine for the first time it was a great consolation to find a place like our chapel. The people have expressed their desire to come more often and to bring other people to our Schoenstatt Shrine of Light, a little oasis in a great, troubled city.
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