Present in the Organization of American States, and in the "The Street Lawyer" area
Our Pilgrim MTA’s Journey through the Washington DC Metropolitan Region – District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia
USA, Joan Rinderle. Sister M. Jessica, the National Director of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign in the United States, visited Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia in a 5-day unprecedented flurry of events and activities.
Arriving on Thursday, 7 February, the first scheduled event was a most anticipated visit at Elfi Stitz’s parish, St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton, VA. Teachers, students, and members of the religious education staff were inspired about Schoenstatt and the graces of the Pilgrim MTA. Forty-three families have received the pilgrim image for weekly visits. Sister Jessica spoke about the many graces God gives through this apostolate and told the youth that they are our greatest treasures and they will be the leadership of the country in years to come. Following the talk, more than twenty students took applications home to their parents expressing a desire to receive the pilgrim image. Students and teachers frequently visit the Schoenstatt Wayside Shrine "Mother of Unity" located at St. Andrew of the Apostle.
Wayside Shrines in the Washington Region
Currently, there are four Schoenstatt Wayside Shrines in the Washington, DC region. All the Wayside Shrines are located in VA, but not for long. Special blessings from our Mother Thrice Admirable have prompted the planning and very soon there will be the birth of a Schoenstatt Wayside Shrine at St. Bartholomew Church in Bethesda, MD. The Wayside shrine at St. Andrew’s has a special meaning for us; it was blessed and crowned on 31 May 1999, 50 years after the same date in 1949, when Father Kentenich risked his entire work in the Shrine of Bellavista, Chile.
On Thursday evening, in the home of Paulina and Jorge Kaufmann, the Washington, DC region Leaders’ Circle met. The leaders in attendance were spell bound as they listened with much appreciation to the leadership guidance, ideas, and materials that were shared. This was a most important planning meeting. The foundation and plans were formed for a number of future events.
The Pilgrim Mother in the Organization of American States (OAS)
On Friday, 8 February, following an early morning Mass at St. Andrew’s church and a stop at the Wayside Shrine for prayers, Sister was ready to begin her day in Washington, DC where she visited the Organization of American States (OAS) with Enrique Soros. Twenty-five interested people met with Sister eager to learn more about Schoenstatt, the Rosary Campaign, Home Shrines, and sealing the Covenant of Love. Since Marcela Rocha, an employee of OAS opened her heart to our Blessed Mother, Mary has worked miracles among many people in the OAS institution. Pilgrim images are circulating there and working miracles in the lives of many people. Suddenly, one day last August, Claudia Conti and her mother Colombia Arenas called us saying: "At the Organization of American States, where my mother works, and at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), where I work, there are hundreds of employees and that means we need many images. How can we get them?" We were astonished and happy at the same time. Claudia, Colombia, and Isolda Riveralainez attended the 2nd Sunday of the Month Schoenstatt meeting at Paul and Joan's house and received the first Pilgrim MTA for these institutions. Little by little, our Blessed Mother has conquered her children’s hearts at the PAHO and the OAS. These organizations presently have 11 images visiting and blessing their families.
In the area of "The Street Lawyer"
The team said farewell to OAS and headed to Mt Pleasant, a poor neighborhood in Washington, DC. This area is just 2-1/2 miles from the White House. The population is comprised mostly of Hispanics and black people. (Some of the adventures described in "The Street Lawyer", a John Grisham novel occurred in this area.) Thirty images of our Blessed Mother are on a pilgrimage through these streets of Washington. Sister Jessica visited a variety of stores and apartments that received the Pilgrim MTA including a shoemaker, a gift shop, a restaurant, and a hairdresser. It was so beautiful to see the smiling faces and feel the joy in the hearts of the people as our Pilgrim MTA extended her hand, via the coordinators, to those who just happened to be walking past on the street.
On Saturday, 9 February, the team returned to the Mt. Pleasant area in Washington, DC to attend a monthly Schoenstatt meeting at Feli’s and Florentin’s apartment. In this small apartment, a big spirit and wonderful warm hearts reside. The graces of the Schoenstatt shrine were explained. There were many children in attendance who wanted more action; so with patience and gentleness, the children were entertained and the adults needs were met as well.
Pasaquina's Restaurant Becomes a Place of Grace
The message has been made clear; if you want to become a coordinator of the Pilgrim MTA, you must come to a consecration meeting for preparation. There are some people in the Mt. Pleasant area that work sometimes seven days a week and are not able to attend the formal meetings. That is the case of Josefina. After many months of longing, a miracle happened! The National Director of the Rosary Campaign went to the restaurant where Josefina works. We displayed a big picture of our Blessed Mother on one of the side tables and there Sister witnessed the consecration of Josefina along with the consecration of Guadalupe and Feli. In Pasaquina’s restaurant, three Hispanic Washingtonians became coordinators of an image of the Mother Thrice Admirable MTA. What an unforgettable experience!
Our Pilgrim MTA left Washington, DC and headed for Maryland where the team stopped to visit Gabriela Rinke’s family. Gabriela is Schoenstatt's representative at St. Rafael's parish. Later that evening, the Maryland Couples groups met at the home of Betty and Ventura Bengoechea. Seventeen couples gathered to hear Sister’s enthusiastic talk and to share in a farewell celebration for Father Abel Calvo, a Piarist priest from Spain who was soon to depart for a trip to Argentina. Paulina and Jorge Kaufmann have worked very hard to build the Schoenstatt Family league. Due to their untiring efforts, we now have three couples groups that meet periodically.
After Sunday Mass: Testimonies on the Experiences with the Pilgrim Mother
On Sunday, 10 February, Sister Jessica began the day at St. Andrew's, where Elfi Stitz sold donuts and coffee following the Sunday Masses. Sr. Jessica's task was to promote Schoenstatt among St. Andrew's parishioners. For that purpose Elfi had a table with a display of Schoenstatt photos, and Schoenstatt brochures and books available. Many parishioners, on seeing Sister Jessica by the Schoenstatt table, came up to her and inquired about Schoenstatt or gave testimonies of their experiences with the Pilgrim MTA.
Thje coffee and donut sale is a task performed by Elfi regularly to support the cost of maintenance of the Wayside Shrine and its beautiful park in the woods.
Sunday afternoon, Sisters Jessica’s presence delighted a large audience gathered in the family room at the home of Paul and Joan Rinderle in Fairfax, VA. This group meets the second Sunday of each month and is comprised of mostly St. Mary of Sorrows parishioners. Eager listeners enjoyed the message about the marvels of the Covenant of Love. Father Wooton blessed four new coordinators who received Pilgrim MTAs. As everyone departed, Sister requested time for a quick trip to a nursing home where Kate Frederick, one of Virginia’s faithful Schoenstatt members was recovering from eye surgery. Kate's appreciation of Sister's visit was evidenced by a big smile and loving embrace.
"Mother of the Holy Family"
Monday, 11 February, Sister Jessica addressed the students and teachers at Holy Family Academy in Manassas, Virginia. She spoke about the spiritual gifts we can give each other and the specific gifts that come through the pilgrim image of Schoenstatt. During a visit to the third grade class, students asked about vocations to the religious life and about the joy Sister feels in serving God and his people as a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary. Located on the Holy Family school grounds is a Schoenstatt Wayside Shrine "Mother of the Holy Family," which was dedicated by Father Dieter Haas in 1999 and is now visited daily by students and teachers.
"Thank you, Pilgrim Mother, for all you do in the Metropolitan DC area"
Sister Jessica’s trip came to a close as she visited the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Thirty employees gathered for the meeting to honor Our Blessed Mother. This was to be a "lunch with talk" because Sister's visit was occurring during the employee's one-hour noontime break. Few, if any one even thought of food. They gave their full attention and were fed much spiritual enrichment and fire, which ignited the desire for some to become coordinators of the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt and to also develop home shrines and have them blessed.
Many more side events occurred that were too numerous to list here. Sister’s untiring efforts and enthusiasm ignited many fires. Evident is the expression of the Covenant of Love: If you show me your love with deeds, I’ll give you the strength and the courage to change the world in my name. Thank you Pilgrim MTA for all you do in our country’s Metropolitan DC Area!
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