Creating a Schoenstatt presence at the Marquette University… and that's only the starting point
As Team 7 leaves early December, Team 8 of "Operation Mario" in Milwaukee is preparing to continue
USA, Milwaukee, Marge Fenelon. On December 8, Schoenstatt families from Milwaukee, Fathers, and Sisters, and students of Marquette University, Milwaukee, with meet with some Chilean students for a Farewell Mass and party for two young men from Chile who will return after spending a semester at Marquette University – not first of all to study but to create and widen a Schoenstatt presence there, forming groups and more. While they were preparing to leave, the first member of the next team arrived on November 12 to begin the transition process between Team 7 and Team 8. This is about "Operation Mario" and a special alliance between the Schoenstatt family of USA and Chile.
Eugenio arrived in Milwaukee on November 12 to begin the transition process between Team 7 and 8 of "Operation Mario". He's been working closely with Team 7 and the Operation Mario families, learning all he can in a very short period of time in order to assure the success of the coming semester. Next to Eugenio Garcés, two other young men will soon be working in Milwaukee: Carles Gaju and Andrés Donoso.
What is Operation Mario?
Named after Chilean Schoenstatt hero Mario Hiriart, who worked tirelessly with the youth in spite of the cancer that ended his life prematurely, Operation Mario is an alliance between the Schoenstatt Family in the United States and Chile. The objective is to build a dynamic, international youth that will become the engine to propel the movement into greater growth and vitality. Each semester, a team of three Chilean young men is chosen for their integrity, spirituality, leadership skills, and Schoenstatt knowledge. All in their mid-twenties, they have completed their college degrees and are either already in or prepared to enter, their chosen career. They pledge their lives to Operation Mario, stalling all personal goals. After a period of special training, the team travels from Chile to Milwaukee, where they live on the Marquette University campus. They audit a class or two, and spend the semester working fervently with the male students to spread Schoenstatt spirituality and form lasting groups that will become an essential part of the movement’s foundation. They freely agree not to date during their term here. They keep an ardent prayer life, meeting as community each morning and night in their homeshrine, "Living Cenacle; Chalice for the World." The team relies on the generosity of the local Schoenstatt Family for apartment rental, living expenses, and transportation. In return, they give their dedicated service to the Schoenstatt Family in the United States and the building of the Marian Father Kingdom.
The goal: to form a dynamic college-age Schoenstatt youth in the United States
Since its inception in 1999, fifteen young Chilean men have sacrificed their personal goals to serve Operation Mario, and the three more are now preparing to from Team 8. The work wasn’t easy, but their determination and dedication far outweighed the difficulty of the task. Team Six formed a group of six young men. Together with Benjamin Wilkinson, who joined Schoenstatt during Team Two’s mission, and Michael Yank, who’s been in the movement for some time, they’ve been involved in spiritual workshops and weekly meetings at the Operation Mario apartment as well as an overnight retreat at the International Schoenstatt Center in Waukesha. By semester’s end, four of them were preparing to make their Covenant of Love. Considering the prominence of the Culture of Death in our society, this is a very promising beginning.
Recently, a closer relationship was formed between the Chilean missionaries and the local Schoenstatt family who assumed responsibility for the outcome of Operation Mario. Their shared dream is to form a dynamic college-age youth in the United States that will be the energy of the Schoenstatt Movement in building the Marian Father Kingdom.
Team Seven review: to share our Catholic Faith and Schoenstatt experience with the youth of Milwaukee
This past semester was an outstanding one for Team 7, consisting of Christian Hughes, Matias Castillo, and Matias Pulito. Christian, a 26-year-old business administration gradueate, came to Milwaukee in January and was a member of Team Six. Prior to arriving there, he spent eight months living and working with the Schoenstatt Fathers in Germany. This summer, he was an invaluable help with Schoenstatt Youth-Milwaukee’02. Matias Castillo is an economics and business administration graduate who, in mid-July of 2001, quit his job and left behind a cherished girlfriend for the sake of Operation Mario. He’s been in a young men’s Schoenstatt group for six years and he and his girlfriend are in a couples’ group. He said that what he’s learned from Fr. Kentenich helps him so much in his daily life that he wants to help transmit Fr. Kentenich’s legacy from one generation to another in this important Schoenstatt place, Milwaukee. Matias Pulido came in January as a member of Team Six. Additionally, he also was an indispensable part of Schoenstatt Youth-Milwaukee’02! He’s a 25-year-old business administration graduate. He says that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, and that increased his desire to share both his Catholic faith and his Schoenstatt experience with the youth here.
A Schoenstatt Group at Marquette University, and the Pilgrim Mother on her way…
On a weekly basis, they met with their Schoenstatt group of eight Marquette University students. Consequently, there was a noticeable increase in motivation and commitment among the group. The team used very opportunity to spend time with the students, frequently inviting one or the other to the Operation Mario apartment for lunch or dinner or going out together. In addition, Team 7 formed new friendships among the other students, particularly with some of the freshmen. It is possible that this will develop into a second Schoenstatt group in the future.
The team also participated weekly in the Bellarmine Society, a theology discussion group that covered key catechetical issues, and Catholic Outreach, a scripture study group. They became involved in Campus Ministry, helping teach catechesis and sponsoring students who have never before received the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion, or Confirmation. On Sundays, they met with a group to present a Communal Prayer Service and provide companionship for the elderly at Faredale Nursing Home. All of these activities and including some Pro-life and other events, enabled Team 7 to make more contacts among the students and create a stronger Schoenstatt presence at the university.
A surprising new initiative was that of the travels of the Pilgrim MTA among the students. Using the Bellarmine Society meetings as a starting point, the Pilgrim MTA traveled home with a different student each week. This proved to be a very popular endeavor.
October 6 farewell Mass with more than 70 people attending
The greatest reward for Team 7 was in the development of a firmer relationship between the Operation Mario team and the families of the movement. Through personal, telephone, and email contact, Team 7 opened hearts and minds to their mission while at the same time making their work more tangible for the families. In return, the families blessed the team with their warmth, generosity, friendships, and in sharing their experiences of the Exile Land. Because of this, history was made on October 6 in Milwaukee with a Farewell Mass and Picnic for missionary Christian Hughes who left on October 21. The more than 70 people who attended the celebration consisted of both male and female Marquette students, the Operation Mario Team, Schoenstatt Families, Fathers and Sisters. As far as could be remembered, such a diverse group – including university students – has never met for a single occasion. A similar scenario will take place as Milwaukee sadly bids farewell on December 8th to the other two members of Team 7, Matias Pulido, who leaves on December 12, and Matias Castillo, who leaves on December 20.
Newsletter: Living Chalice
In summer 2002, Schoenstatt families published the first issue of a quarterly newsletter for the friends of Operation Mario, 'Living Chalice'. The name refers to the personal ideal of Mario Hiriart, a Schoenstatt Brother of Mary who offered his life for the Schoenstatt Movement and the return of Fr. Joseph Kentenich, the movement’s founder, from exile.
His ideal was "To be as Mary, a living chalice, the bearer of Jesus Christ." During his life, Brother Mario dedicated his time and energy to working with the Schoenstatt Youth in Chile. As Operation Mario is named after this great Schoenstatt hero, it’s fitting that the newsletter reflects the credo by which he lived. The newsletter is directed to the "Friends of Operation Mario", the groups and individuals who selflessly support Operation Mario through their prayers, time, resources, encouragement, and financial contributions.
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