"Queen of Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Senegal - Accept our homage and love."
Zimbabwean Schoenstatt Family renewed the Crowning of the Mother Thrice Admirable as Queen of Africa
ZIMBABWE, Marlene Peter. On May 31st, 2002, the little Zimbabwean Schoenstatt family for the 22nd time crowned the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt as "Queen of Africa", entrusting to her mother love and queenly reign each country of the continent.
This was the 22nd time that the Schoenstatt family did so in Zimbabwe, the first being on May 31, 1981, a year after the South African Schoenstatt Family in Johannesburg crowned her under the same title. Many of the Zimbabwean Schoenstatt family traveled there by bus to attend taking with them the priest, Fr. Carry SJ who composed the crowning 'Queen of Africa' hymn for the occasion. The crown, made by the Brothers of Mary in Schoenstatt using stones from the African countries was brought by car to Zimbabwe for their crowning the following year. A bus load of South African pilgrims came up. It was a very special occasion at a time when Zimbabwe had just gained its independence and people were in a very apprehensive mood, not knowing what the future would hold, a little like now.
May 31st, 2002: Once again crowing the Queen of Africa
We have been preparing for the Crowning for nine weeks with the "Queen of Africa" novena, which has the writings of Fr. Kentenich on our Lady and her Queenship. On May 3st, 2002, the parish church of St. Francis Xavier, in Harare (where all the previous crownings have taken place) was beautifully prepared with lots of flowers and the Picture of Our MTA on an easel to the side of the altar. The centenary flag and pennants added to the setting. The celebrants were, Schoenstatt Father, Fr. Michael Hagan, Fr. Raymond a Carmelite priest and Fr. Freddy De Sousa SJ who is in Zimababwe for two years from India. The Schoenstatters of Zimbabwe had been hoping that Fr. Michael would be able to come but had word that it wasn’t possible. Then on Thursday night Sr. Marian phoned to say that he would be coming late Friday afternoon. That really ‘put the cherry on the top!’
The Danger of Losing Hope – and the Challenge to be Instruments of Hope
The mass, which began at 7 p.m., was truly Spirit- filled. Fr. Michael gave the homily saying what a joy it was for him to be here. Until midday the day before he did not even have a passport. He said that, looking back over the years to the first crowning we remember how we crowned Our Lady asking her to protect Africa and especially our countries, South Africa and Zimbabwe. We had experienced what war does to a country and its people. And over the years we have had our ups and downs. We are still on our journey of faith, a journey of many challenges, a journey with Jesus and Mary. He spoke briefly on Our Father and Founder’s Journey of Faith, the difficulties he experienced, his time in Dachau, then freedom followed by exile for 14 long years and finally he experienced a few years of grace and victory before he died. Sometimes, Fr. Michael said, our difficulties become unbearable and we want to say to God our Father, "Enough!" Looking at all that we are having to face in our countries today, AIDS, hunger, political violence, death, crime, we can become paralyzed and there is the danger of losing hope, and the passion for life. Our Blessed Mother said "Yes" to all God asked of her. We are being invited to say "Yes" despite all the difficulties. We are asked to build up God’s Kingdom, like Mary. It’s not a comfortable ‘Yes’ but a ‘Yes’ to faith in God. God’s kingdom must prevail. When we crown Mary, we petition her, "Form your children to be instruments of hope, not to lose confidence and trust, people filled with a passion to become ‘new men and women in a new society.’ Fr. Kentenich was brought to the very edge of what could be endured. But he believed. It is important to know what is the purpose of our existence. Then things become clear. We have the capacity not to give up if we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We crown Our Lady now asking her to be with us as we renew our faith and trust in our journey with the Living God.
Naming each Country of Africa
The many petitions and prayers, which followed, were evidence of the deep pain being experienced by the people of Zimbabwe at this time. There were also prayers of thanksgiving and asking for the grace to be able like Mary to ‘Magnify the Lord,’ in all our difficulties. Father said it was evident that The Spirit was moving us. But we had to continue with the mass. The crowning ceremony then took place as, standing with lighted candles, we recited the litany naming each country in Africa, e.g. Queen of Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Senegal, Accept our homage and love." As the mass ended Father Michael invited all those who had flowers to come and place them before the picture of Grace. The congregation broke out into joyful singing, and dancing, hymns to our Queen of Africa.
Schoenstatt in Zimbabwe is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding in this year. Zimbabwe was among the first countries where the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Rosary Campaign began; Father Esteban Uriburu brought the first pictures to visit families. In 1988, Pope John Paul II during his visit to Zimbabwe blessed one of the first pictures. In 1989, Marlene Peter, and Sheila Coleman (both Mothers' Union), visited Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay to learn more about the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign that was "going to from a wonderful chain of love around the world".
The Schoenstatt family in Zimbabwe is still longing for their first own Shrine; the interior of the future Shrine is in the house of one of the leader families, the place of the monthly covenant celebrations that are essential part of the Schoenstatt life in Zimbabwe.
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