"A Gift and Day of Great Joy for Our Entire Schoenstatt Family "
Eight Young Men from USA, Germany, India, and Byelorussia Ordained as Deacons in the Adoration Church, Schoenstatt
SCHOENSTATT, mkf. It was the biggest number of deacons to be ordained on the same day in the Adoration Church in Schoenstatt, announced Father Michael Joh. Marmann, Superior General of the Schoenstatt Fathers, in his welcome address at the beginning of the celebration early in the afternoon of Ascension day: eight young men, members of the Community of the Schoenstatt Fathers, from Byelorussia, USA, Germany, and India, today were ordained as deacons in the presence of a big number of relatives, friends, and Schoenstatt members - as international as the group of deacons - that filled the Adoration Church to capacity.
"This is a gift and a day of great joy for our entire Schoenstatt Family!" Radiating with joy, Sr. Cecilia from the Dominican Republic expressed her gratitude for experiencing the ordination of eight young men on this sunny afternoon of the Feast of Ascension. "I feel very privileged to have witnessed this," a Baptist Schoenstatt visitor from England said. Methodist friends, who were on a pilgrimage to Schoenstatt with him, added: "It was very emotional. We did not understand the words, but the gestures and symbols, and the atmosphere of commitment and love for Jesus was tangible. This is hope. During the ceremonies, I thought: This is about loving God with all heart and soul. In this love, we are more one as Christians than we sometimes think. This is future. Thank you for inviting us!"
"The Most Beautiful A Bishop Can be Asked to Do"
The Adoration Church filled with relatives, and friends of the new deacons, with many young people, participants of retreats and pilgrimages, and many Schoenstatt members of whom many had driven many hours just to join in this celebration. To the tunes of a well-known Easter Song, more than 40 Schoenstatt Fathers, several Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests, students, seminarians, and postulants of the Schoenstatt Fathers solemnly and joyfully at the same time processed into the Church, accompanying the eight young men who would leave the church as newly ordained deacons 2 hours later: Jerzy Grycko from Byelorussia, Mark Joseph Niehaus from USA, Thomas Jochheim from Germany, and Joy Puthussery, Pushpa Irudayaraj, Sahaya Benjamin, Stephen Xavier, and Wilson Parekkattil from India.
At the beginning, Father Marmann welcomed all who had come, especially Auxiliary Bishop Dr. Alfred Kleinermeilert, "famous throughout the world for the many members of our community that you, have ordained as deacons, members from all over the world, already since 1970, soon after our founding!" Hardly ever if ever, Father Marmann added, so many young men had their deacon's ordination at the same time.
He had gladly accepted the invitation, Auxiliary Bishop Kleinermeilert answered, and because "the most beautiful a Bishop can be asked to do is to ordain a person as deacon or priest", he thanked the families and friends of the future deacons and "all who accompanied them so far with their prayers. It is a profound source of joy for us to experience and accompany today these eight young men who answered to God's call."
"Where People Love God and Love each other, the World is Changed!"
Among the participants of the Mass were the couples from the diocese of Paderborn who had a retreat, a group of Methodist couples from England, and many members of the Schoenstatt Boys' and Girls' Youth.
"Remain in my love" this word from the gospel of John was the motto that the future deacons had chosen for their celebration. The whole celebration was marked by joy in the vocation, in Schoenstatt, in the Blessed Mother, in God the Father. The Schoenstatt band Esperamor from Vallendar provided songs and music, taking turns with students and seminarians of the Schoenstatt Fathers who contributed songs from Poland, India, and Latin America, each accompanied by typical instruments. The readings were read in German, and English. In his sermon, Auxiliary Bishop Kleinermeilert picked up the gospel of the Feast of Ascension, speaking about the risk that Jesus' Ascension meant, leaving his church to fragile, doubtful, weak disciples and the Holy Spirit to guide and transform them, a work-in-process up to the day. In order to bring ahead Jesus' kingdom, the disciples neither organized an academic symposium, nor worked out a new social system. On the other hand, indeed, he added, they tried and sold all they had to the end of St. Paul having to organize a campaign for donations to save them! "What really brought the church ahead was love!" Where people love God and love each other, he stated, the world is transformed. Mary had changed the world not by creating a new social system but by giving her "fiat", her unconditional Yes to God.
We could expect, thus, that God would work through us, would strengthen us and make our work bear fruit. Promising his prayer, he wished the future deacons the strong experience of God's strength and the joy of being able to give his love to people.
"I am ready!"
Eight times Father Dr. Lothar Penners, rector of the Joseph Kentenich College, called a name, and eight times a firm voice responded: I am ready! The liturgy of the ordination began with the personal presentation of the candidates to the bishop, and continued with the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the personal promise of each candidate to follow Jesus' example, living in celibacy and obedience towards their superiors, serving God and mankind, and to pray the hours. While the Litany of All Saints was sung in Spanish, the eight candidates lay outstretched on the floor, symbol of their total surrender to God. The most emotional moment was the center of the rite, the bishop's imposition of hands and his prayer. With joy impossible to hide the eight new deacons walked to the side of the altar, where they put on the deacon's stole and vestment, assisted by Schoenstatt Fathers one of them the older brother of a new deacon!
The bishop then gave the Bible to each one; after the song "Oh the word of my Lord", the Bishop, then Father Marmann, and Father Walter (Regional Superior) embraced the new deacons a moment of shared joy.
Entrusting Their Way to Priesthood to the Blessed Mother
The Mass continued with festive and joyful songs, the new deacons for the first time assisting according to their liturgical role. After communion, the Latin American students sang a song: "God, who you know all". Then, two girls performed an Indian liturgical dance an emotive expression of veneration of God with body and soul.
Before the blessing, the eight newly ordained deacons offered a big bouquet of flowers to the Blessed Mother, then entrusted their way to priesthood to her, asking her to give them and preserve a childlike heart, a pure heart, and a heart filled with joy in their vocation. The consecration prayer ended with the petition for faithfulness, to "remain in the love of your Son."
Father Walter thanked all who had come, and specially all who in any way had contributed to the preparation and performing of this celebration from the Bishop to the choirs and music groups, and the Sisters who had decorated the church and done background services.
A Family Celebrating
After Mass, all gathered on the place before the Adoration Church (just for exception, the weather was warm and sunny!), waiting for the deacons to come and accept their congratulations! Schoenstatt members from the diocese of Mainz ("100% of the German deacons are from the diocese of Mainz!"), and from several other dioceses, Schoenstatt Sisters and Sisters from various communities from India, relatives of the deacons, Schoenstatt Fathers not only from Germany, but from England, South Africa, USA and many young people everywhere (some of them strategically taking the advantage of a big waiting crowd to distribute piles of flyers with an invitation for the World Youth Day Program in Schoenstatt): a moment of family joy shared. While the guests of the new deacons (among them some invited spontaneously) drove to Mount Sion for a Snack and more private celebration, many of the participants of the celebration stayed until soon before 6:00 PM, greeting friends, sharing, and delighting this "gift and day of great joy for our entire Schoenstatt family".
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