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 published: 2003-01-14

"There must be another star in the skies …": the key of vocation

Presentation of the Sion Tunic and Reception of eight young men into the novitiate of the Schoenstatt Fathers in Schoenstatt

Toma de túnica de 8 novicios de los Padres de Schoenstatt, 11 de enero de 2003, en Schoenstatt. Los novicios vienen desde Alemania (5), Croacia, Francia, y la Republica Czecha
Presentation of the Sion Tunic to 8 novices of the Schoenstatt Fathers, January 11. 2003. The novices come from Germany (5), Croatia, France, and the Czech Republic
Überreichung des Sionsgewands an acht Novizen der Schönstattpatres, 11.Januar 2003. Die Novizen kommen aus Deutschland (5), Kroatien,Frankreich und Tschechien
Celebrantes (izqu. A der.): Monseñor Ivan Šešo de Croacia, Padre Ladislav Štefek de Republica Checa , P. Michael Marmann, superior general, Padre Paul Vautier de Suiza, y Padre Heinrich Walter, Provincial de la Provincia de Sión.
Main celebrants (left to right): Monsignor Ivan Šešo of Croacia, Father Ladislav Štefek of the Czech Republic , Father Michael Marmann, superior general, Father Paul Vautier from Switzerland, and Father Heinrich Walter, Provincial of the Sion Province
Hauptzelebranten: Monsignore Ivan Šešo aus Kroatien,, P. Ladislav Štefek aus Tschechien , P. Michael Marmann, Generaloberer, Pater Paul Vautier aus der Schweiz, P. Heinrich Walter, Provinzial der Sionsprovinz.
Vista de la Iglesia con pesebre y decoración navideña
View of the Church still in Christmas decoration
Blick in die Kirche, noch im Weihnachtsschmuck
P. Günther Niehüser, maestro de novicios
Fr. Günther Niehüser, Novice Master
P. Günther Niehüser, Novizenmeister
Primer novicio desde Francia: Pierre-Laurent Bagnères
First novice from France: Pierre-Laurent Bagnères
Erster Novize aus Frankreich: Pierre-Laurent Bagnères
Canto en cinco idiomas
Song in five languages
Lied in fünf Sprachen
Arno Hernadi, que durante más que un año trabajó para la Oficina de Prensa: gracias!
Arno Hernadi who for more than a year worked for Press Office Schoenstatt: Danke!
Arno Hernadi, der gut ein Jahr für PressOffice Schönstatt gearbeitet und sich mit der Veranstaltungsdatenbank dort "verewigt" hat: Danke!
Congratulation tour
Glückwunschtour in klirrender Kälte
Pierre-Laurent Bagnières von du padre, y el P. Bernhard Schneider
Pierre-Laurent Bagnières with his Father, and Fr. Bernhard Schneider
Pierre-Laurent Bagnières mit seinem Vater und P. Bernhard Schneider
Fotos: POS, Brehm © 2003  

SCHOENSTATT, mkf. There must be yet another star in the skies… Believing in the possibility of stars yet to discover in the skies of one's life is the key of vocation, Father Günther Niehüser on January 11 said in his sermon during the festive Mass in the Adoration Church in Schoenstatt. Eight young men, five of them from Germany, one from the Czech Republic, and the first candidates from France and Croatia, were received into the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers and presented the liturgical vestment of the Schoenstatt Fathers, the Sion Tunic. The white tunic is a symbol of total surrender to Christ and imitation of Mary, the Immaculate Queen, expression of the novices' longing to complete the way of vocation towards the priesthood.

Many young people headed to the Adoration Church on this chilly but sunny January morning. At 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 11, they had followed the invitation of their friends to join in the festivity that would mark a highlight of their novitiate. Along with the parents and siblings of the novices and several representatives of the Schoenstatt family, they filed in into the Church that still had the Christmas decorations, the large Nativity scene, the Christmas trees, and the countless stars left there by the visitors of the "Ten minutes by the crib".

"Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the LORD, our God" (Jeremiah 31.6).

Soon after 11:00 AM, an almost endless procession of priests in festive white vestments and students in their Sion Tunics entered the church, guiding the eight young men who had set out to follow their star according to the motto they had chosen for this day: "Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the LORD our God" (Jeremiah 31.6).

The Schoenstatt band "Esperamor" gave the musical form to the Mass, reminding of the Final Act of the Catholics' Day in Hamburg with their introductory song: "Invited to join in the feast of faith." And indeed, it was an invitation to join in a feast of faith, a feast of answering the call to follow Jesus.

Father Michael Marmann, Superior General of the Schoenstatt Fathers, presided at the Mass, with Father Heinrich Walter, Provincial of the Sion Province, Monsignor Ivan Šešo, Croatia, Father Paul Vautier, Switzerland, and Fr. Ladislav Štefek, Czech Republic, concelebrating at the altar. The eight novices took seats in the two central front pews, while the Schoenstatt Fathers and Diocesan Priests filled the entire right aisle of the church. Father Marmann welcomed all, expressing his joy on this occasion of receiving eight young men into the community, expressing also his gratitude for these young men, their parents, siblings, and friends, and for the presence of so many persons in this moment.

The difference between Chinese and European Astronomers: searching for the known, or for the unknown stars

Father Günther Niehüser, Novice Master, after greeting the novices, the Schoenstatt Fathers, the relatives, and friends of the novices, focused his sermon on what he called the "reality born of longing" according to the motto the novices had chosen: "Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the LORD, our God" (Jeremiah 31.6). It would be the longing for "Sion" that had made these eight men from different countries set out to new shores. Several of them being engineers had dared, with the others, to base their life on a reality that could neither be measured nor be proven, but that would exist: the reality of a vocation.

The Chinese astronomers of the 15th and 16th centuries knew more stars than the European astronomers. A lot more! Not because, as many thought, they had the better instruments, but because they had a different mentality. The Chinese astronomers always expected to discover new stars: "Today I will discover a new star…" They always expected things to change. The European astronomers were convinced they already knew of all the stars and that everything would stay the same. So they examined the stars they already knew…

Only those who think that there could be new stars in their skies will find and follow a vocation, Father Niehüser stated. The key of vocation would be: "There is more…"

Fisher of men – You have looked into my eyes, smilingly, you called my name; so I left my boat, and together with you I will search other seas…

The Sion Tunic, he continued, would stand for the longing to be part of the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers and to share their mission in total surrender to God, to live for Christ, and for the mission of Mary – to bring Jesus to men. "It is easy to marry, but not easy to be married," Father Niehüser said. "It is easy to become a priest, but not easy to be a priest, so pray for these young men as they follow the star of their vocation so that this day will become and remain a day of great longing and joy."

After the sermon, he called each of the eight novices by name. With firm voice, Pierre-Laurent Bagnères (France), Arno Hernadi (Germany), Bernhard Irsch (Germany), Helmut Müller (Germany), Petr Polívka (Czech Republic), Frank Riedel (Germany), Horst von Rönn-Haß (Germany), and Berislav Vukoje (Croatia) gave their "I am ready". Father Michael Marmann, after asking them whether they were willing to strive for holiness, to live the evangelical councils of chastity, poverty, and obedience, to grow in the spirituality of Schoenstatt, and to be faithful to the community and its mission, presented the Sion Tunic to each one. During the ceremony, the band intoned "Pescador de hombres", "Fisher of men" – a beautiful interpretation of the vocation of these young men, of whom most already have worked in a profession. You have looked into my eyes, smilingly you called me by my name; I abandoned my boat a the shores, together with you I will search other seas…You need my hands, my tiredness, my love that never ceases to love… When all had received the tunic, they went to the side to get dressed in this liturgical vestment – they did so before the nativity scene, a convincing sign of their mission. Students and Schoenstatt Fathers helped them to dress properly – a convincing sign of community. All wearing the sign of their longing to become priests and Schoenstatt Fathers, they walked to the altar to renew their Covenant of Love, entrusting their way to the priesthood to the Mother Thrice Admirable: "Gently and softly you called me by name…".

"In the Lord I'll be ever thankful, in the Lord I'll rejoice …"

One of the novices, already ordained a deacon, went up to the altar to perform the deacon's service during the following part of the Mass, while the other novices resumed their places in the front pews. After Holy Communion, the novices – borrowing guitars, drums and microphones from the band – sang a song in German, Czech, French, Croatian, and English: "In the Lord I'll be ever thankful, in the Lord I'll rejoice! Look to God, do not be afraid…"

Before the final blessing, Father Marmann invited all to Mount Sion for the noon meal and socializing. The joy of the celebration broke through when the band at the end of the Mass, during and after the priests had processed out of the church, played one song after the other, while most of the young people started clapping hands and swinging to the rhythm of the music. Although it was chilly, people gathered outside to wait for the novices' congratulation tour. On Mount Sion, the feast continued – the guests and relatives socialized, and many finally found the time to congratulate their novices.

In the church, all had been invited to express their wishes and prayer promises for the novices (and also their own prayer requests) on small sheets that were afterwards placed in a jar standing in front of the crib. Many who heard about the event asked to join in – and did (or do) so via mail.

Those who would like to extend their wishes to the novices:

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