Accompanied by greetings and prayers from all over the world: Ground-breaking ceremony for the International Schoenstatt Shrine in Rome
The Holy Father greeted the Pilgrims from Schoenstatt during the Wednesday General Audience
ROME, Oskar Bühler/mkf. From Goya in Argentina, Iquique in Chile, from the Provincial Superior of the Schoenstatt Sisters of the SchoenstattTaborProvince in Brazil, and the German Mothers' Federation, the Professional Women's League of Northern Germany and from many priests email greetings arrived these days in Rome: prayers, congratulations, prayer requests and greetings are an expression of shared joy. The 50 or so pilgrims who during these days are in Rome, accompanied by a wave of joy, and unity, yesterday, on December 5, 2002, had a ground breaking ceremony on the place of the future International Schoenstatt Shrine and Center in Rome. The contours of the Shrine had been marked out with white ropes. During the Wednesday General Audience, the Holy Father specially greeted the pilgrims from Schoenstatt.
"What a joy to know that our home and shrine in Rome for the entire Movement will soon be a reality!!! I am just sorry it comes after I no longer am planning pilgrimages for the Movement!!! But I keep this in my prayers in a very special way!!!," wrote Sr. M. Elizabeth Dingbaum from Waukesha, USA. The newly founded Schoenstatt Mothers' League of La Paz, Bolivia, promised to pray the rosary in the Shrine of La Paz at the time, when the pilgrims in Rome would be on the land of the future Shrine. Ines Petiti, founder and responsible person of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign in Goya, Province Corrientes, Argentina, wrote: "Dear friends of the Shrine 'Matri Ecclesiae', with all of my heart I do unite with you for each visit, each Mass, and each beautiful experience of your group in Rome, together with our Mother and Father Kentenich, and pray that you, in each placed, enjoy the beautiful legacy that Father Kentenich left for us. I ask you to also pray for the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign in Goya. When you celebrate Holy Mass, please offer a prayer for the missionaries of the Pilgrim Mother in Goya who on December 8 will renew their missionary commitment for another year. May she work miracles in each one of you, I unite with you in the love of Father Kentenich and the Blessed Mother…"
More greetings came and keep coming in from Australia, Brazil, and South Africa, from many places in Germany, Argentina, and USA. The Professional Women prayed for the Rome pilgrimage in their Illumined Rosary last Sunday, and a candle was lit in the Shrine in Atibaia, Brazil, and in the Shrine by Marienland, Schoenstatt, to unite with the celebration in Rome. The Ladies of Schoenstatt on Friday night remembered the Rome pilgrims in their Holy Mass and Adoration in the Shrine in Stuttgart. During the bus rides, Father Oskar Bühler kept sharing the greetings from all parts of the world with the pilgrims. They took in the many prayer requests and felt as part of a big family.
Ground breaking ceremony for the Shrine of the entire Family
The architect had carefully marked out the inner and outer measurements of the future Shrine on the land at Belmonte. The pilgrims decorated the place with flowers and candles. The center was an MTA picture; the Blessed Mother was to be crowned Queen of Belmonte. The celebration began. Monsignor Peter Wolf expressed his joy in the fact "that this time we are here with the longed for building permission!" Taking up the talk given by Father Kentenich on December 8, 1965, he showed the image of the church of the future as Vatican II anticipated and characterized it. This church, he said, would be the work of the Blessed Mother, and we could be optimistic in the regard that she would specially work for this church from this Shrine. Then the ground-breaking ceremony began. The guardian of the place of the future Shrine, Monsignor Ignazio Sanna, was the first one to take the spade. Nobody wanted to miss the opportunity, although some obviously for the first time in life had to handle a spade! Nobody however was severely injured. Anna Nagel, birthday girl advanced in years, proves to be an expert – probably it was not her first ground-breaking act! Several participants express in prayers and testimonies how much the Shrine in Rome means to them.
Afterwards all went to the neighboring St. Gemma's church for the Holy Mass. Fr. Wilhelm Mahlmeister invited all to sign the accompanying book of the crowning. It was a small step, but it is tangible: what so long was a dream and promise, yesterday afternoon has become a reality, so far a reality of very small outer dimensions. Nevertheless, the building of the International Shrine in Rome, as Shrine of the entire Movement, begun on December 5, 2002.
Visit to the House of the Sisters of Divine Providence
Earlier the day, the pilgrims had visited the House of the Sisters of Divine Providence, a place where in 1965 Schoenstatt history took place. The "heads" of the Schoenstatt family lived for weeks together with the founder, in one house. There is no place of similar events. In the hall, Fr. Oskar Bühler showed the place where he first met Father Kentenich, in 1965, at the time when almost everybody who found a reason and means, headed to Rome. Father Bühler: "The weeks before, events had come thick and fast. The idea of a Schoenstatt Shrine in Rome emerged in various groups and communities. Vatican II, and the unexpected though so much longed for return of Father Kentenich had winged the Schoenstatt family's steps and accelerated the plans for the Shrine in Rome. So on short notice I headed to Rome, representing the youngest course of the then young Institute of Diocesan Priests. I remember each moment of my first meeting with Father Kentenich…" Memories became alive, and stories became real as the pilgrims visited the historical places in this House at the Via della Vignaccia, today: Via Giovanni Eudes): the House Chapel, where Father Kentenich celebrated Holy Mass each day; the room where he lived, still honored by the new owners of the house… In the hall, Father Bühler shared the history of the idea of an International Shrine in Rome. This house, filled with the atmosphere of the weeks in 1965 preceding the "Second Miracle of the Holy Night" on December 24, 1965, is the starting point for the Rome Center and Shrine. The decisive talks and decisions were made here; from here, the wayside shrine was brought to St. Peter's Square to receive the General Blessing of the Holy Father during the Closing Mass of Vatican II. Here Father Kentenich gave the important talk that is considered a founding document for the Shrine, from here he and those present in Rome on December 8 headed to the land at Belmonte for the erection and blessing of the wayside shrine.
Meeting the Holy Father
"Dear brothers and sisters! I greet the pilgrims and visitors from the German speaking countries. I specially welcome the members of the Schoenstatt family from different German dioceses. Proclaim to all in this world the merciful God, who fulfills our longing for salvation. May the grace and joy of the Holy Spirit accompany and help you!"
With these words, Pope John Paul II had welcomed the Schoenstatt pilgrims on their first day in Rome. It poured when after a night's ride; they arrived on St. Peter's Square. Their places for the General Audience were in the middle of the place. However: "Although many other groups had been announced before us, it was to us that the Holy Father waved!" Father Bühler gladly shared. On the first night in Rome, he already had e-mailed the first texts and photos, gratefully using the Schoenstatt Sisters' Internet access.
The Schoenstatt family is glad to participate: "We, unite ourselves with you spiritually in Rome," wrote Brigitte Allen for the Schoenstatt family of California, "and send our capital of grace for this day as gift."
Greetings can still be sent: firstname.lastname@example.org
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