Schönstatt - Begegnungen

Milwaukee 2002: Your Gift, Our Mission

Leaders’ Convention in Waukesha, USA

June 21, day of Father Kentenich's arrival in Milwaukee, 50 years ago: Pilgrimage to the Shrine in Milwaukee
21. Juni, Tag der Ankunft Pater Kentenichs in Milwaukee vor 50 Jahren: Wallfahrt zum Heiligtum in Milwaukee
Holy Mass at Holy Cross Church, now called St. Vincent Pallotti
Heilige Mess ein der Kirche Holy Cross (heute St. Vinzenz Pallotti)
"Gift Presentation" - Presentations of different areas
Darbietungen der verschiedenen Regionen
Sr. Petra, talk
Sr. Petra, Vortrag
Afternoon at Grant Park
Nachmittag im Grand Park
Fotos: Sr. Donna Krzmarzick © 2002
más fotos
more pictures
mehr Fotos
Jubilee symbol

USA, Joan Biemert. A Leaders’ Convention took place from June 20-23, 2002 at the International Center, in Waukesha Wisconsin to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the arrival of Father Joseph Kentenich in Milwaukee. The following is a first hand report.

Leaders came from all over the US, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Germany.

The day is finally here!

Thursday, June 20, 2002 – The long-awaited day is finally here! There is a flurry of activity at the International Schoenstatt Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Delegates are arriving from all over the United States and Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic and Germany were also represented.

Greeting us in the lobby was a life-size image of Father Kentenich. The Federation couples were on hand to assist with registration and were available throughout the entire weekend to give guidance and direction when needed.

The red rose – its’ significance dates back to the early days of Father Kentenich’s exile in Milwaukee.

Participants found in their rooms a picture of Father Kentenich giving his blessing, a long-stemmed red rose (silk), and some sweets. The red rose was an important symbol of the convention. The significance of the red rose dates back to the early days of Father Kentenich’s exile in Milwaukee. In the spring of 1955, the Pioneer Couples had weekly meetings with Father, and each week Mae Wacker would bring Father Kentenich a rose from her garden. When the Pioneer Couples made their covenant of love, the shrine was decorated with red roses and Father Kentenich presented each person with a rose. Roses are symbols for love and for hearts. They also symbolize sacrifices. Father Kentenich said, "A heart for a heart, a rose for a rose."

Roses of Welcome – Roses of Gratitude

Soon after supper, we made our way up the hill to the Father statue under very threatening skies and in oppressive heat and humidity. It did not take long before we were blest with a brief shower, but no one minded in the least; and all prayed and sang with joy and enthusiasm. Father Kentenich was presented with roses of welcome – roses in gratitude for Father’s courageous faithfulness to his mission and as our pledge to listen to his Milwaukee mission and faithfully respond to it. Roses -- in gratitude for his sacrificial strength and as a pledge to listen to his life of love and sacrifice in Milwaukee and to respond to it. Roses --in gratitude for his lived love for the Church and as our pledge to respond in our lives with prayer, sacrifice, and deeds based on our love for the Church. Roses -- in gratitude for his explaining and teaching about the new father, the new child, and the new community and for his tangible incorporation of these images in his life, and as our pledge to listen to and to respond to our Milwaukee legacy. Roses -- in gratitude for his deep love for the shrine that resulted in daughter shrines, the pilgrim MTA shrine, the home shrine and the heart shrine, and as our pledge to foster, nourish, and sustain our love for the shrine in its multiple forms. With this bouquet of roses, we welcomed Father now fifty years after his arrival. His response was to welcome us to the International Schoenstatt Center, to this convention, with our mission zeal, our concerns, needs, and wishes.

We then proceeded to the Shrine for a brief visit where the words of Father Kentenich were recalled, words first spoken at his first visit to this spacious land, "Bless all who will come here, all who will work here. Grant that blessings will go out from here!" We received a blessing from all priests present and then processed to the provincial house for Holy Mass.

Father, we welcome you, we listen to you, we respond!

Father Hector Vega was the celebrant for Mass. His homily set the tone for the weekend. We welcome our founder, listen to him, and then respond. We open our hearts so we can respond adequately. What is the spirit and direction of the Schoenstatt family from now on? Father Kentenich has given us the gift of the home shrine, Dilexit Ecclesiam, and the new image of father, child and community. Just as the apostles and the Blessed Mother waited for the coming of the Spirit in the Cenacle, our home shrines and heart shrines are our Cenacles. We must make use of them often. What direction is Father Kentenich taking us for the future (he wanted a mature laity)? As a leaders’ convention we are here to work hard, to discern, and to respond. We are not here to reminisce! We prayed for the strength we need to respond to Father Kentenich, that the church of today and tomorrow may grow and blossom.

After Mass we were invited to socialize and enjoy some snacks provided by the Spanish community.

A standing ovation for Father Kentenich.
Welcome, Fr. Kentenich, your arrival here prepares us for the future.

Friday, June 21 – Happy feast day! "We Welcome Father Kentenich" was the title of the talk by Father Jonathan Niehaus. His presentation began with a rousing applause and standing ovation to welcome Father Kentenich. It is a banner day for our U. S. Schoenstatt Family! It is the 50th anniversary of Father Kentenich’s arrival in Milwaukee. It is the first day of an extraordinary gathering of our Schoenstatt Family. It is a gathering at a crucial moment in time for our Church and nation. In a sense, we have been preparing for this day ever since Father left us in 1965.

Father Niehaus said that it is the goal of this convention not only to celebrate Father’s arrival, but also to prepare us for the future. We are at a crucial turning point in the history of our nation. We are also at a crucial turning point in our Family. The numbers of Sisters and Fathers are limited. Growth will depend on the initiative of lay members.

After Father’s talk, the delegates formed small discussion groups to come up with suggestions of how we can listen to Father speaking in his legacy and in his family today and how we want to respond. What does Father ask of us today and for tomorrow?

In the afternoon, the participants were bussed to Milwaukee for a brief prayer service as we gathered in the Shrine where Father spent most of his exile. Some of the people then enjoyed a walk in the cemetery along the same paths that Father Kentenich used to take. Others just spent some quiet time until Holy Mass was celebrated in Holy Cross Church. In his homily, Father Gerold Langsch told of the quiet arrival of Father Kentenich in Milwaukee. The Pallotine community welcomed him with mixed feelings. God took everything from him. He brought only himself. We welcome the person, the man who turned out to be the father, the prophet, a man for the Church, a treasure hidden in Milwaukee. We then took time to close our eyes and be with Father Kentenich personally. Our hearts were filled with gratitude for the gift of Father Kentenich.

In the evening, we enjoyed a "Presentation of Gifts" program. Various Schoenstatt Centers entertained as they presented their gifts to Father, depicted in readings, skits, slides, and music. The backdrop on the stage included a picture of the Shrine at Holy Cross, Father Kentenich, a Schoenstatt banner, and a rainbow.

After the presentations, the gifts were taken to the "Exile Shrine" and placed before the altar. During this time, each individual also presented his/her personal gift to Father. Each participant received a light, a symbol of the Father globe at the International Center, as a reminder of Father Kentenich, of his presence with us.

Then all joined in the closing prayer of the Jubilee Novena, and at 9 PM we received the priestly blessing.

We listen to Father Kentenich!
"It takes more than a lifetime to get to know and to understand our father, his teaching and his person."

Saturday, June 22 – Sister M. Petra Schnuerer spoke on "Our Threefold Exile Legacy in response to the difficulties and needs of our present day Church and world." Sister Petra was in Milwaukee during Father Kentenich’s exile time. The Father’s love gathers and unites.

Yesterday we welcomed Father. We can only marvel at God’s wisdom and love lavished on our nation by making the Schoenstatt Family in the USA the heirs of an inestimable treasure, our exile legacy.

Today we will listen to Father. Fathers' teaching – as an outflow of his founder-personality – can be compared to a mysterious globe. If we want to get to fully see a globe, we need to contemplate it from different angles. It takes more than a lifetime to get to know and to understand our father, his teaching, and his person. May the little father globe light we received from him in the Exile Shrine last night remind us every day of the words of promise: Father, we will never forget you!

He loved the Church.

Father loved the Church with the same love he loved Mary. He loved the Church with a warm, compassionate love. His love of the Church was heroically sacrificial, and it was based on solid knowledge. Father entrusted his love of the Church to us.

Father tells us how the Church and the world are related to each other: "This Church should become what she was in the early centuries and should always have been, the SOUL OF THE ENTIRE PRESENT-DAY WORLD CULTURE. This means, no separation of the Church from culture, no separation of the Church from the world, no, the Church should become the soul of the entire culture, of a confused, of an extremely worldly-minded culture, of a devilish-influenced culture. This is how the Church sees herself." (J.K., 12-8-1965)

The devil knows the importance and mission of the Church for the world. Therefore, he strikes the Church because by striking the Church, he hurts the world as well. Do not both urgently need the mother?

He gave us a new image for a new time.

The new image of the Father, the child and the community offers us a new inner freedom. Peace can only exist where this basic relation is restored. If I may be convinced that the God who made me and on whom I depend for everything down to the smallest detail of my life is my loving Father, and if I feel that he treats me as the apple of his eye, there will simply be no room in my heart or mind for anxiety, for fear or stress. I will be interiorly free! I will be at peace!

The new image of the child – In addition to all our striving for holiness, we humbly and sincerely recognize, acknowledge, and accept our miseries; show them to the Father, and trust in his merciful love. Do we notice that this image is in total contrast to the image of the present-day person in the world and in the Church? It is the image that can transform a "grouch" into a happy child of God.

Our image of the community – It is the community of the "new children" who live the covenant of love with the Triune God and the MTA, who take the covenant of love among, with, and for one another very seriously until all hearts are fused into one.

"Our shrine is secure forever."

Our home and heart shrines – Father said, "The Communists can close down all the churches, they can close or destroy all our shrines, but they cannot lay their hands on the home shrines; these remain for them inaccessible. That means our shrine is secure forever."

Sister Petra concluded by saying that 50 years ago Father was convinced that Schoenstatt in the USA will have a great future if its leaders will be both "faith-filled" and "vigorous in action." Now, half a century later, more than 200 such faith-filled and dynamic leaders are seated at the feet of our father and master. Is this not the hour for us to get up, to take the exile legacy into our youthful, strong hands and hearts and say to our father: ‘Father, here we are, make use of us! Lead us. We follow you!’"

Stop, pause, and reflect—where is God leading us?

The afternoon session led by Father Niehaus was on our response to Father Kentenich. We were asked to reflect on what it is that Father Kentenich is saying to us in this convention; to stop, pause, and reflect on where God wants to lead us. We must be alert to the fact that God often comes incognito! We were encouraged to go often to for many stories of what is going on around the world.

Again, the delegates broke up into small groups to discuss the following:

  1. As a leader of the Schoenstatt Family, what do you think are the challenges and longings that are most acute for our U.S. Family today?
  2. What are the most characteristic features of our "face" of Father?
  3. What do you think Father is trying to say to us as a U.S. Schoenstatt Family in 2002? What is he challenging us to for the future? What should our response be?

Work done! – Skipping stones on Lake Michigan.

Our brains were challenged enough for the day, it was now time for some fun! The buses were again utilized for a trip to Grant Park for a picnic supper and to follow in the footsteps of Father Kentenich along the shores of Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful evening for a stroll through the wooded park and along the shore. Some took the opportunity to skip a few stones across the water. The German "contingent" provided a musical interlude with harmonica and accordion and all were encouraged to join in singing the German favorites as best they could. Then the Spanish people added their delightful flavor to the program. Schoenstatt Father Theo Abt from Germany, who was a student in Milwaukee at the time of Father Kentenich’s exile, shared stories of his friendship and adventures with Father that included many outings to Grant Park.

The evening was not all fun for some of the delegates, however. Led by Father Niehaus, they summarized all of the responses of the small group discussions to the questions posed earlier in the day, working far into the night and wee hours of the morning to accomplish their task.

Father, we respond and face the challenge!

Sunday, June 23 – Our Jubilee Response to Father as prepared by the Statement Committee and presented by Father Niehaus:

The Challenges we face:

    1. The family is in crisis.
    2. Church/Parish integration (the need to integrate the Schoenstatt movement more fully into Church and parish life)
    3. To live the Covenant of Love to the fullest
    4. Formation and training for leaders
    5. Involving Youth

The Features of our Image of Father Kentenich:

    1. A True Father
    2. Childlikeness
    3. Love of the Church
    4. Educator

Our Response

    1. Leadership Development
    2. Everyday Sanctity
    3. Use the Home Shrine Graces
    4. Pilgrim MTA
    5. Evangelization

"Fear no one. Have courage!"

In Father Dieter Haas’ homily at Holy Mass, he suggested that the words of the Gospel (Matthew 10:26-33) were meant for us as leaders. Today the emphasis is on the lay leadership taking more initiative and not leaving it all up to the sisters and priests. Jesus tells us today as he told the apostles, "Fear no one. Have courage!" We must go back over the materials presented during the convention, internalize the messages, and then take action!

After Holy Mass, we again processed to the Father Statue for a special "Sending Forth" ceremony. We gave thanks to Father Kentenich for coming to America and for his presence among us for almost fourteen years, for the legacy he left, and for the privilege of participating in this convention, that we were able to listen to Father and now to respond to him.

As everyone knows, Father Kentenich loved to give gifts. Andy Horn, a member of the Pioneer Couples group, crafted small shrines that were appropriate for use in cars and made a gift of several of them to Father Kentenich so he could give them as gifts. Today, with the help of Andy, Father Kentenich presented each one of us with one of these small shrines. All participants also received from Father a medallion, the symbol of our renewed commitment to Schoenstatt and to our special mission for America and the world.

Mrs. Wacker was also present and gave everyone a booklet compiled by her and illustrated by Betty Schultz, a member of the couples Federation. It is entitled "The Rosa Mystica - Meditations and Novena – a Heart for a Heart, a Rose for a Rose, a Covenant for a Covenant." As we sang "With Heartfelt Love," fifty yellow balloons were released into the air.

Thus, our weekend with Father Kentenich came to an end. Now it is up to each individual to accept the challenges identified and to respond accordingly.

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