Schönstatt - Begegnungen

Mother of All

Crowning Ceremony in West Milton, Ohio, USA

Father John McQuarrie, parish priest of West Milton, Ohio (l) with Schoenstatt Father Gerold Langsch
Pfarrer John McQuarrie von West Milton, Ohio, mit Pater Gerold Langsch
Picture of the"Mother of All"
Bild der "Mutter aller"
Fotos: Michael Schubert © 2002

USA, Michael Schubert. The Schoenstatt family of the United States is preparing for the Golden Jubilee of Father Kentenich's arrival in Milwaukee on June 21, 2002. In the preparation for this jubilee, all who know and love the MTA and Father Kentenich were invited to renew his or her shrine of choice. The Schoenstatt Family of Ohio does not yet count with a daughter shrine, but with home and heart shrines – and with a special place of grace in the Church of the Transfiguration, West Milton. On November 11, 2001, the image of our Mother Thrice Admirable was crowned there as Our Mother of All.

The coronation ceremony was held during the 10:30 Mass and was concelebrated by Father John McQuarrie and Father Langsch. There were over 400 people in attendance at the Mass including parishioners and Schoenstatters from the surrounding area.

A "Souvenir" from a Pilgrimage to Schoenstatt, Germany

Barely one month before this coronation was the decision made to have this service on this specific day. The Ohio Schoenstatt community had purchased a crown for Our Virgin MTA while they were on the Schoenstatt pilgrimage last summer. The crown was purchased from the Goldsmith House and managed to be taken to many of the shrines at Schoenstatt. I should note that the money for purchasing the crown came from various Pampered Chef shows and other fund-raising activities by the Ohio group. After the return from Germany the crown made it’s "own pilgrimage" traveling to various homeshrines throughout the area. Although crowning of the MTA image was in our hearts, there were no specific plans laid.

An MTA Picture in a Parish Church

In 1993 a fairly large number of people came into the Ohio Schoenstatt community making their Covenant of Love during a special ceremony held in the Church of the Transfiguration. The pastor at that time, Father Charles Caserta, was very much attracted to the MTA image and said that he wanted her to be at the front of the church for all to see. A shrine-sized picture was purchased, and a beautiful, ornate gold frame and special mat from Italy were made for a striking MTA image. Father Caserta enthroned the MTA image on May 7, 1994, during May Day services. Most of the Ohio Schoenstatt members, however, were a little hesitant about crowning for a couple of reasons. First, there should be a reason for crowning more than just placing a crown on the image. Second, we wanted this to be something the entire parish would participate and appreciate, rather than it being just a Schoenstatt activity. The "seed was planted" when one of the members, Bob Butler, took a solo trip to the International Center as his first visit. He came back saying how important crowning was and how Father Dieter had stressed this point while he was there.

In the after-effects of September 11

One month after the World Trade Center attacks, a number of leaders from Ohio went to the Leaders' Conference at the International Center. After that, the idea of the crowning became "ours". We approached Father John McQuarrie about the idea and he was very open to consider doing this as a part of a regular Sunday Mass. We initially wanted to pick a special feast day, preferably a Marian day such as the Immaculate Conception, but finally the only day possible both for the parish and the Schoenstatt family was November 11th. Not until this date was selected did it strike us that it was exactly two months after the terrorist attacks. Mary’s sure hand was now at the wheel.

While planning for the coronation we realized that it would be during the same time Father Langsch was making his visit to Ohio and Kentucky. In checking with Carol Lis about the schedule, amazingly there were no conflicts for Father Langsch to participate in the coronation. When we mentioned this to Father John, he was delighted by the prospect of concelebrating Mass with Father Langsch.

Mother of all Christians, Mother of all Moslems…

The events began to take on nearly a life of their own, with the Schoenstatt members simply trying to hold on. When Our Mother decides to do something, it's nearly impossible to see how everything can be accomplished. Yet afterwards, it is so clear to see how she has guided us as her useful instruments. The details for the coronation seemed almost magically, more correctly mystically, to fall into place. One small, but very significant detail had been left out when the MTA picture was enthroned; she was never given a specific title. We approached Father McQuarrie with the request that he choose a title for Our Lady to be crowned. All of us felt it fitting for the pastor to choose the title both because he is the shepherd of our community and the leader of our parish. We all asked for restraint on any suggestions and prayed that Mary reveal what she desired to be called. Father chose "Mother of All" for the title because he was so deeply moved by the need of the whole world for the love of a perfect mother. Mother of All Catholics, Mother of All Christians, Mother of All Jews, Mother of All Buddhists, Mother of All Moslems….Mother of ALL.

Involvement of the parish groups

Now the events were drawing to their conclusion. An insert for the church bulletin the week prior to the coronation was developed to explain what was going on the following week, and gave some background about crowning. In addition, Sister Danielle spoke at all the Masses, both Saturday and Sunday, to explain the history and significance of crowning and some background about Schoenstatt. During this same time, each group in the parish was approached about having their own specific petition, which could be presented during the general intercessions, the last group only being contacted on Saturday before the coronation.

The Saturday before the coronation various members spent a long day in beautifully decorating the church with flowers that they had purchased and arranged, silk and chiffon arranged to highlight the MTA image, an ornate table for Schoenstatt information pamphlets, and finally the church hall for a reception afterwards. At the end of the day Mary had used her instruments to the point of exhaustion.

An Event for the Whole Parish

Sunday November 11, 2001, was as perfectly spectacular a day as one could wish. Bright sunny skies, pleasant temperature and there seemed to be electricity in the air. Events had worked out so that a young couple, the husband who came into the Church through RCIA two years ago, provided violin and viola accompaniment to the soloist and piano during Mass. Arrangements had been made for the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of St. John to lead the procession into church. The crowning ceremony was magnificent and all twelve parish groups presented their petitions. A number of Schoenstatt ladies made their way to the choir and sang the Covenant Song and the entire church joined in singing. Father Langsch gave the homily and he was truly inspired. A very special touch was having the Knights escort Carol and Gordy Lis in the presentation of the gifts.

After communion the church soloist, Marianne Pitts, and a violinist joined in performing Ave Maria, and although never practicing before this Mass, it was perfect, just as our Mother would have it. Many people commented afterwards that they had been moved to tears by the beauty and magnificence of the coronation. Indeed, all knew our Queen had become worthily recognized this day. A very large number of people stayed for the reception after Mass. All the Schoenstatt family received many comments of welcome, gratitude, and fulfillment from those attending. One of the petitions presented, that from the Schoenstatt group, asked for both an intercessory healing from Father Kentenich, and that Our Mother of All help with the building of a Schoenstatt Shrine in Ohio soon. We wait in hopeful anticipation!

Condensed from: Schoenstatt Family Magazine, USA

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