Schönstatt - Begegnungen

A Sign of Freedom and Solidarity

Piece of the Berlin Wall erected in the Center of the Federation of Families

Piece of the Berlin Wall, erected on the Joseph Kentenich Farm, the Center of the Federation of Families
Stück der Berliner Mauer, errichtet auf dem Josef-Kentenich-Hof, dem Zentrum des Familienbundes
Renate Martin during her speech before the red rose, sign of the love that is stronger, was planted
Renate Martin bei den Worten vor dem Pflanzen der roten Rosen, Zeichen der stärkeren Liebe
Renewal of the Covenant of Love for our People
Erneuerung des Liebesbündnisses für unser Volk
A joyful get-together and sharing with coffee and cake
Froher Ausklang des Festes bei Kaffee und Kuchen
Fotos: POS, Fischer © 2002
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SCHOENSTATT,mkf. As a sign of freedom and solidarity, memorizing the efforts of the generation that did not accept the separation of the German Federation when the country was separated into Germany (West) and Germany (East), a piece of the Berlin wall was erected on the Joseph-Kentenich-Farm, the center of the Federation of Families. The pieces of the Berlin wall that are found in several places of Germany as well as in Fatima and in New York in the gardens of the UN, are "symbols for the victory of freedom and of solidarity", and, in Schoenstatt terms, a symbol for mechanistic legacies breaking apart and organic life to grow.

Only some undulations too symmetric to be natural still remind of the former amphitheatre in Schoenstatt that has been given back to the nature. Soon after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, a piece of this wall had been erected at this place where the German Schoenstatt Movement's "Covenant of Love for our People" was made in 1984, and where the Centenary of Father Kentenich's birth was celebrated in 1985. Now the Federation of Families took care of this historical monument, and in the presence of the members of the National Council, solemnly erected the piece of the wall at their center on the Annual Pilgrimage Day of the Federation on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, May 26, 2002.

When the Red Rose was Planted

It was like a wink from heaven: Suddenly and in full brightness, the sun broke through, just when at the end of the celebration, the red rose was planted and watered the rose that is determined to slowly grow and cover the gray concrete wall with red flowers, and the Freedom verse of the Song of the Home resounded, sung by couples of the Federation who had come from all parts of Germany for this day of pilgrimage. Before the rose was planted, Renate Martin reminded of the many people who had been shot to death at the Berlin wall, maybe even by this very piece.

During the celebration, the colorful umbrellas kept being opened and closed with a quick change of sunshine and downpour. The leaders of the Eastern Region of the German Federation, the Jäger family, lead the celebration, which was marked by a sincere and profound gratitude for and of those who had experienced the painful years of the Germany being divided into two states, and the efforts of solidarity of the Schoenstatt Federation of families and the whole Schoenstatt movement.

At the beginning of the celebration, the leaders of the Federation, Norbert and Renate Martin, greeted the members of the National Council who had come, as well as representatives of the League of Families and the Press Office. Norbert Martin introduced the meaning of the erection of a symbol of hatred, separation, and pain, that would now stand here as a sign of victorious freedom. The plaque that will be attached to the piece of the Berlin wall has a text from Father Kentenich about Schoenstatt being a Movement of and for freedom, "When we think of the Berlin wall, of the walls between the peoples, between each other, in the own family: lack of freedom, hardening of hearts! The answer: a band of heartfelt love in the families, the state, the world, and as fruit of the Holy Spirit: perfect Freedom."

Testimonies of Courage, Hope, and Faithfulness

"Duc in altum" - Love is stronger, the motto of the celebration and the entire Day, became specially present in the testimonies of Gerhard Haasler, Erfurt, and Käthe Becker, Hillscheid, persons who from either side of the wall done what was ever possible to maintain the unity of East and West in the Federation.

Gerhard Haasler gave a short outline of the historical, economical and political development that lead to the rebellion of workers and suppression of it on June 17, 1953, and the events that lead to the construction of the Berlin wall, and the deadly border fortifications with automatic firing devices turned towards East, turned not to invaders from the West but to those who wanted to leave behind the Communist Paradise. He also recalled the days of fall 1989, when on October 18, 1989, Erich Honecker was toppled, and on November 9, the Berlin wall ceased to separate the two Germanys. A few days after the erection of the Berlin wall, he closed, in Friedrichroda, in the Shrine "Triumph of the MTA", on August 21, 1961, the first course of Eastern Germany, the 3rd of Germany, made the first consecration, promising faithfulness to the church, to the Shrine, to the Founder (who was in Exile), to the Federation.

Käthe Becker shared how since the Catholics' Day in Cologne, in 1956, she got in contact with families from Eastern Germany limited travel from East to West was still possible, then. "We had two separated states, but the Federation would not be separated," she explained. The families from Eastern Germany had a "partner family" in Western Germany, and, risking arrest and imprisonment, the assistants of the Federation Fathers and Sisters -, and the leading couples traveled to Eastern Germany, visiting their "cousins" and bringing news, support, material, medals and the little things that were missing, from coffee to door-handles, from Schoenstatt, sharing how life was developing in the West, sharing how the ideals of the Federation were lived in everyday life, listening. Since 1980, Käthe Becker went to the GDR three to four times a year, joining the retreats of the families. She shared some adventure stories of border controls, of notes hidden under the dress, of registration forms, and meticulously complete lists of each single item that was imported. When the Eastern families wanted to donate a crown, an exact copy of the crown that the Western families had offered to the Blessed Mother, the parts that could not be produced in the GDR came their with Käthe Becker as a necklace with really many pendants in interesting design! The Blessed Mother, she added, had always protected the daring endeavors that were meant to maintain a spiritual and human unity. "I am looking back to these years with real gratitude," she said. "We experienced the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 with special emotion, thinking of our families who finally had the freedom to come here. Yes, walls fall when love is stronger."

Renewing the "Covenant of Love for our People"

In the following prayer service by the Shrine, all renewed the "Covenant of Love for our People" with the complete text of 1984. "We are convinced that this Covenant for our People was decisive for the fall of the Berlin wall five years later," the couples said. It was a special atmosphere in these minutes of praying the prayers from 1984 in a completely changed reality of Germany; who had in 1984 believed that something literally set in stone, the division of Germany, would be overcome within five years? How many "walls" could fall if we would believe in miracles? In her final address, Renate Martin said: "In 1999, during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of May 31, in Bellavista in Chile, Father Guillermo Carmona said in a talk: 'When in November 1989, we were amazed with the incredible news about the fall of the Berlin wall, when this wall was torn down within few days and weeks and pieces of the wall were distributed everywhere as signs for the victory of freedom and solidarity, we sensed that part of the mechanistic legacy had broken apart and that instead organic life could grow. Whenever 'Berlin Walls' fall, Schoenstatters should applaud!' Today we erected a part of this broken wall as column of freedom, as a monument against mechanistic thinking and for an organic living, loving, and thinking. It will mean something not only for us here in Germany but for our international community, as the resonance from other countries demonstrates."

After the celebration, all were invited for coffee and cake; the open air event was abruptly ended by a torrential downpour that sent all but some 'water-resistant' members of the Federation into the house, where one could then see little chatting groups, cake and coffee mugs in their hands, in literally each corner!

From this day, the Center of the Families' Federation, the Joseph Kentenich Farm, has a new attraction for visitors from far and near a document of German, and of Schoenstatt history.


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