Milwaukee experiences of Father Kentenich: Father, and always Father
Testimonial Afternoon during the October Week 2002
SCHOENSTATT, mkf. The fiftieth anniversary of Father Kentenich's arrival to Milwaukee, USA in June 2002, celebrated in Milwaukee by the Schoenstatt family of the USA and reasons of several pilgrimages to the places of Father Kentenich's 14-years of exile, found a reflection also in the traditional testimonial afternoon of the German October Week, on the afternoon of October 18. Persons from different spheres of contact with Father Kentenich shared their personal experiences, different but summed up in the basic impression: he was Father, and always Father.
On June 21, it was fifty years since the arrival of Father Kentenich at the place where he was to stay, separated from Schoenstatt, and where he stayed until in the course of Vatican II he was rehabilitated and returned home to Schoenstatt and on Holy Eve 1965. What was a sacrifice and suffering for Schoenstatt in Germany and throughout the world, became a gift for Schoenstatt in the USA. Although obedient to the decrees of the church Father Kentenich did not actively work for Schoenstatt, his presence in Milwaukee marked the North American Schoenstatt that on behalf of the jubilee formulated: Your gift - our mission.
On this afternoon, a glimpse of this gift and mission was shared with the 700 delegates of the October Week. Günther Boll was the moderator of the afternoon. He expressed, at the beginning, his wish that this may become a time of personal encounter with the Father and Founder. It did.
In Milwaukee he was "all Father" for me
Ramona Wilden, diocese of Aachen, visited Milwaukee together with a group of Schoenstatt Youth after World Youth Day in Toronto. "In Schoenstatt I found him fantastic, in Milwaukee he became my Father," she said. Two key experiences: walking on the cemetery by the Shrine in Milwaukee, walking the ways he walked with his visitors, made her feel that he was walking with her, also. Another experience was connected with the Father House: "They have the confessional from St. Michael's Church there, and suddenly I thought: 'It would be fantastic to confess to Father…" The experiences from Milwaukee, she said, urge her to "share his fatherhood to others, to be like him a fatherly person, or better, a motherly person, to the younger Schoenstatt girls in the diocese."
For us he was the pastor of the German community and: Father!
The Horn family, German fugitives from Eastern Europe like most of the German families that constituted the German community in Milwaukee, via video shared their experience in the perspective of their experiencing Father Kentenich as pastor of their little flock of simple people (whom Schoenstatt has to thank for the "Game of Love" talks). "We did not know much about Schoenstatt, and that he was a founder. For us, he was the pastor. And soon we felt very close to him, because he was a father to us"
One of the examples shared by Mrs. Horn was about her drivers' license test. Like always before decisive moments, she went to the Shrine and there met Father Kentenich. She asked him to bless herself and the car for the test to take place the other day. She went to the test spirited and optimistic – but did not pass. Father Kentenich's comment: I will bless you again the next time, and should it again not work out, I will have to sit in the car with you during the test!" Comment of two people in the audience: I would have made sure to not pass!
A short video clip illustrated the way in which the German "flock" felt welcome and accepted by Father Kentenich.
"He had eaten that anyway, just to make me happy"
Another sphere of experiencing Father Kentenich: the "Monday Night couples", the first American couples who met with Father Kentenich for weekly talks about married life, faith, education. Father Boll highlighted that never before and again in his life, Father Kentenich dedicated so much time to families. Via video, late Joanna Schimmel, shared how she and her husband, Gilbert got into contact with Father Kentenich, and grew quickly into a closeness to him. "We never made an appointment when we wanted to see him, we just dropped in. You don't ask for an appointment when you want to go to your father's house!" The story of Father Kentenich on very short notice following Gilbert's invitation to join them for a trip to their country house some hours by car from Milwaukee. Left without the possibility to buy food, Joanna felt awkward to serve the usual stew to Father Kentenich and two other priests; the lacking of a bowl to serve the stew, and of a decent ladle adding to her embarrassment. Till to the end of her life she kept the big cooking pot that Father Kentenich encouraged her to simply place on the table so that he, with the weird ladle, would ladle and serve the stew to the others, telling her that he liked stew and taking a full helping of stew. "He had eaten it anyway, only to make me happy!"
American squirrels are more trustful…
Father Günter Boll who from 1959 once a year could visit Father Kentenich in Milwaukee shared impressively how Father Kentenich came to pick him up at the station and tried to make him feel welcome and at home. The "American squirrel" may stand for the many details that, in Father Boll's very personal testimony, showed a respectful Father who helped to grow into a childlike relationship marked by trust and confidence. Father Boll shared how while walking the cemetery daily with Father Kentenich, he gradually became more and more free, able, willing, and longing to share more and more, and more and more also the personal. It was specially Father Kentenich's ability to listen that made him feel to be the most important person of the world for him – an experience not only freeing but opening the heart. During the daily walks, Father Boll said, he watched squirrels – "much more trustingly like the German ones" – that came close the them and ran along with them for part of the way. One day, while watching one of the squirrels that had accompanied them for a while, Father Kentenich pointed to the animal, saying: "Your friend". "He put into these words the entire experience I had – the German "squirrel" is shy, this one here is trusting and can share… No more comments were given, but a few days later, on Father Boll's nameday, Father Kentenich's gift to him was - a toy squirrel. "This squirrel has traveled the world with me and is in my homeshrine," he added.
After experiencing the Father, he mentioned, he found the prophet – the prophetic founder who gave him "the most intensive Schoenstatt introduction I ever got!"
Our childhood experiences with Father
Mike and Margaret (Yank) Fenelon, from USA, came to know Father Kentenich in their families as they grew up in Milwaukee during his Exile.
"To our parents and to us as little children he was Father – always concerned, always available, always kind. In Milwaukee, Father Kentenich could really be a Father to the children around him," said Mike Fenelon. "We, the children, knew that Father always had a treat for us," shared Margaret Fenelon (Yank). "Once he asked us, 'When was the last time that you visited me?' My older sister said: 'That was the time when you gave us grapes!' Father was very pleased. He laughed and left the room and came back with a bag of chocolate chips."
Mike Fenelon shared how Father Kentenich taught his parents the importance of traditions in the family: a crib to be filled with straw during advent, a crown of thorns in which they placed petals of roses during lent, candle light processions in the house, each family member's symbol in the 'living shrine', or the 'Schoenstatt hour' as a couple. Margaret Fenelon: "My parents, both high in their eighties, do that still today!" Testimonies of their parents were shared via video, as well as photos showing Father Kentenich with the then children in the homeshrines.
The reality of a heavenly father became a reality – this was the summary of what Mike and Margaret Fenelon shared, highlighted specially in Mike's sharing about his Father's death at age 48, and his younger brothers, ages 6 –8, during the funeral, in a totally natural way discussing with whom their dad would now be talking in heaven – with Gilbert Schimmel, die Blessed Mother, or Father Kentenich. They had understood the reality that heaven was not only a place but also a family, of being with one's family and friends forever.
Of the many experiences shared by Margaret and Mike Fenelon, members of the General Council of the Institute of the Schoenstatt Families, the one linked to the famous photo showing Mike Fenelon walking hand in hand with Father Kentenich on a field near Milwaukee – a photo being used around the world to illustrate the father-child relationship. When appointed to the council of the institute, Mike Fenelon heard from a sister a detail he had not known before: the ground where Father Kentenich was rather uneven, and in order to steady himself he reached out for someone for assistance." Father did not want to take the hand of an adult so he reached out to me for assistance… In this moment, when I heard this detail, I knew: Father was saying to us that he was reaching out to me again for assistance…"
[Seitenanfang / Top] [letzte
Seite / last page] [Homepage]
Last Update: 20.10.2002 0:17 Mail: Editor /Webmaster
© 2001 Schönstatt-Bewegung in Deutschland, PressOffice Schönstatt, hbre, All rights reserved