My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord: my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.
"Journey of Love" - 11th Annual National Convention of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign (SRC), USA
USA, Sr. M. Jessica Swedzinski. There was great jubilation at the 11th Annual National Convention of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign from June 19-22, 2003, in this Year of the Rosary. A cross section of over 125 Schoenstatt members met together at the International Schoenstatt Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin, from seventeen states, literally from coast to coast, with participants ranging from a two-month-old baby to 80-year-old senior citizens.
Undaunted even by a complete water failure at the Center for the first 53 hours, gratitude flowed from hearts. It was truly Our Ladyís Journey of Love. Marge Rolen writes: "I was among a contingent of 25 from Oregon and Washington State who traveled by Amtrak train for 43 hours to get there. It was totally worth it. Because of the joy of reaching Schoenstatt, none of us worried too much about the fact that the water pump had broken Ö Actually, all said that it meant much grace for the convention, and that came true."
One of the countless miracles: With all of the customary ins and outs of trying to schedule and secure 25 tickets for Amtrak, there needed to be an extra dayís stay at the Schoenstatt Center. Marge emailed: "Also, about the ticket money. The actual price was supposed to be: Adult--$422, senior $359, and child $211. With their colossal error, we ended up paying $170 for each ticket! And, then, (do not ask me how) we actually paid $129! Which was $41 less and that will exactly cover the $41 the retreat house needs for our extra time there. This gives me goose bumps Ė our MTA rules!"
Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign, Live the Year of the Rosary
One delegate from California offered to cover the convention expenses for another to be able to come from her area. "And just nowhere do you get such a professional state of the art convention with all the trimmings for only $160!" a Washington DC delegate declared.
By Thursday noon 55 of us were gathered to relish Sister M Petraís first hand experiences of the Milwaukee exile places with a picnic served by the Sisters in the beautiful Milwaukee Jacobus Park. Holy hours were offered in Spanish at the Exile Shrine in Milwaukee, and in English at the National Shrine, Waukesha. Father Langsch warmly welcomed all to the 4:30 pm Mass, and by suppertime the airport shuttles were finished, including a six-passenger arrival at Greyhound from Lafayette, Indiana, and the traditional rented 15-passenger van driven for 14 hours by Angelo Concepcion from Atlanta, Georgia.
Sonny Laqui from Minneapolis, Minnesota shares: "It is wonderful that our convention celebrated the Year of the Rosary with the challenge: SRC, Live the Year of the Rosary! Somehow it still gives us some time to really Live the Year of the Rosary. But what I cannot get over is that the starting date of this historic convention was the 8th death anniversary of Sister M Juliana Najarro. The Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign and Sister M Juliana are truly intertwined. Back in 1984, when nobody believed the SRC would work, Sister M Juliana believed. She had faith. And her faith was not idle. I like to think of her as the Missionary of the Rosary. She had Father Esteban Uriburu come to the USA, and through her coordinators she had many Pilgrim MTAs traveling through Minnesota and the West. (And later on she had most of the islands in the Philippines covered by Pilgrim MTAs!) What I find amazing in this yearís celebration are the two power point presentations which were excellent, produced by Sister M Jessica and Sister M Victoria."
For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
Carolina Lalama from Burbank, California, testifies, "The talks on the Rosary from the Popeís Apostolic Letter were very helpful and inspiring. We all know the great value of what we received in this convention and our mission is to share it with our groups and let people know how much Our Blessed Mother wants to help us, educate us, and bring Jesus to us."
"The genius of our father and founder obviously shows through the Schoenstatt Fathers. I admire their ability to develop and to talk eloquently on any given topic," writes Sonny Laqui. This year, another technical first was experienced with simultaneous translating into Spanish via a close-circuit television set up. Not only did all hear, but all could literally see the presenters at all times.
One delegate from Waunakee, Wisconsin, was very happy with the eight discussion groups. After each keynote address, workshop time was given for expressing opinions and life; then groups sent one or two members to the microphone to share one aspect or main point with the large plenum. Isabelle Lutzke and Helen Liccione emailed: "We were amazed how well the participants did with coming to the mike Ė that technique of the bees worked amazingly well!" (Be quick, be happy, and be gone!)
Some snapshots: Praying the Rosary is asking 50 times to Our Lady to pray for us. Remember that Jesus denies nothing to her!
When we are praying the Rosary, we are saying: Blessed Mother, I love YOU. So letís do it with all our heart!
Iím getting way more than I thought. In fact, I canít wait until next year when I can come and visit with all my friends here by the shrine!
From this day all generations will call me blessed.
Sr Shirley Ladd and Sr Marie Day offered children and youth programs for our 12 youngest delegates. They enjoyed their classes, a live rabbit presentation, and times outdoors. The children were brought into the Marian celebrations in a way that they will always remember. One of the twelve-year-old boys from Oregon continues to comment upon his blest memories of the little shrine. Friday afternoon brought opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation. All were invited to write the initials of those persons who needed extra healing on yellow ribbons. These were then tied to tree branches standing at the base of the Unity Cross. Powerful grace was received by many.
Cathy Johnson from New Orleans, Louisiana offered a Cord Rosary Workshop and delegates from the Northwest met to plan for their first ever summer youth camps before the afternoon highlight when seven lay leaders presented a panel on SRCís Contribution to the Year of the Rosary. Topics and presenters included:
These were most appreciated and everyone wished there had been more time!
But the day wasnít over. Over and over one heard that they were overwhelmed by the testimonials heard on Friday evening. Dawn Helt from Waunakee: "To see the Blessed Motherís power right here today and to know there is so much healing and transformation from these days is awesome!" All enjoyed Sister M Marciaís collection of songs with new texts to the Pilgrim MTA. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began with a Benediction, which included a litany of Minnesota home shrine titles to Mary. The Spanish contingency took over some hours with singing a serenade.
The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
Saturday morning was dedicated to the new Luminous Mysteries. Sister M Annaís rosary antiphons were learned, and again the rosary was prayed together as a convention family. Then the longed for pilgrimage to the Founder Shrine at Madison was made from 1-9 pm. The tour of the state capitol was educational and enjoyable courtesy of Richard & Patricia Butler. The warm welcome of the sisters under the big tent, the informative PowerPoint, and time to walk around were special touches. During holy Mass, Father Langsch accepted the covenants of love from Frances Clark and Ana Maria Alba-Wendt, newly commissioned 10 coordinators, and re-commissioned all present. On June 18th, Carolina Lalama sealed her covenant in the Exile Shrine and three Georgia Ladies sealed their covenant on Sunday in the International Shrine.
"The special gift of Henry and Dorothy Gmeinder was spectacular. The couple was a picture of joyful laughter and holy life. It was proof that he/she who laughs, lasts. One thing I learned is a new definition of an angel." Sonny Laqui continues: "How could one describe oneís feelings, praying at the first Schoenstatt Shrine built in the USA 50 years ago? For me the education and formation of the American Saint can be done most effectively through the Rosary Campaign. As our Holy Father writes: The Rosary is destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness! Isnít it providential that the national headquarters of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign is at Schoenstatt Heights, home of the Founder Shrine?"
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation!
Sunday morning the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Tomas and Rufina Hernandez from Oregon was celebrated by Father Hector at Mass. Father Dieter led us to look at how Mary teaches us to live the Rosary and then the finale was a Corpus Christi procession around the grounds with the beautiful clear blue skies and green rolling hills as a natural backdrop to the Sacred Host and all of us pilgrims processing in prayer. For many of us this was the first time in our lives we could experience this tradition with the Eucharistic Blessing at four altars. Then the Louisiana delegate, Melinda Mayeux made a scented vigil candle for each family to take home.
As another great meal was shared before departure, comments like these were heard: "Heaven on Earth!" "The Best of Gifts - that is what the Journey of Love meant to me!" "Gift of Our Lady." "With our days at the shrine so full of grace and deep union with Our Mother, we return to each of our areas on this vast continent determined to return again and to help Our Mother build "beautiful places" of her living work in our own outlying areas. Please continue to pray for the United States, the culture needs Our Mother to turn it from secularity to Jesus" wrote Irene Esporza from Hermiston, Oregon in her closing evaluation. "We want to help her to do that."
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