First visit of a Sister of Mary to Costa Rica
The Schoenstatt Family in Costa Rica considers the visit of Sister M. Virginia as a historical marker
COSTA RICA, Gonzalo Vega /mfk. Is a small country in Central America, the second smallest after El Salvador, with an area of only 50,895 km², in its narrowest part in the South there is a distance of 119 km between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. The Church is organized in 6 dioceses with a total of 282 parishes; in some of these parishes there are some Schoenstatt members who from June 11th till June 23, 2003 witnessed a very special event that will be a historical marker in the Family of Schoenstatt in Costa Rica: a Sister of Mary visited the country for the first time.
We consider it a historical event for the Family in Costa Rica, they write. A few months ago two Costa Rican university students visited Schoenstatt for the first time and in June Sister M. Virginia Alvarez arrived from Ecuador.
The country where the MTA wanted to establish her home in open hearts.
"I met beautiful people with the tropical warmth and spontaneity and also very open and reverent towards all that is religious," commented Sister M. Virginia back in Ecuador. Also typical of the country is their hospitality towards the foreigners who arrive for reasons such as work, diplomatic missions, student exchange of universities and schools. In the Schoenstatt groups there are persons from Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador.
Costa Rica is in the heart of Central America, between Panama on the South and Nicaragua on the North. The Pacific Ocean bathes 3,000 km of its coast and the Atlantic 1,000 km With an area of only 50,895 km² and a population of 600,000 in seven provinces plus the Island Coco. Christopher Columbus called it Costa Rica when he saw the exuberant coast and in the hope of finding gold. But, as history tells, since there was no gold, the only people who settled there were those who loved the farming lands and wanted a peaceful family life. From then on the people from these lands are known for their love of peace: they express that in their National Anthem. In 1948 the government abolished the army because they decided to focus on two priorities: education and health.
Currently Costa Rica has 4 state universities and 10 private. The index of analphabetism is 3%, maybe the lowest in Latin America.
How did Schoenstatt arrive in Costa Rica
There are 124 images of the Pilgrim MTA, two women’s groups, five family groups, one of young women university students and another of young men students, groups of boys and of girls. The Family grows from its beginnings, holding the MTA’s hand.
In the founding of Schoenstatt in Costa Rica three streams flow to the same river: the three images of the Pilgrim MTA: one brought from Argentina by Fr. Esteban Uriburu in 1996, another one from Ecuador by Anita Loor de Dahik and the third one from Miami. Fr. Jose Luis Nieto has visited them from Ecuador and Fr. Carlos Cox became their mentor since his visit in May two years ago. He lives in Chile and visits the Family in Costa Rica twice a year.
The Movement is integrated to the Church and Parish of "Perpetuo Socorro" in San Jose, the capital, simply because the priest allowed them to place an image of the MTA in a niche at the entrance of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament where He is exposed all day in a beautiful custody. Thus our dear MTA is "Guardian of her Son." In this church located in a populated area, the family joins on the 18th of every month to renew the Covenant. Six Home Shrines blessed by Fr. Nieto three years ago are in the houses of the families of Alberto and Anita Dahik, from Ecuador, Marcelo and Cecilia Alfonso, Argentinian-Peruvian, Anita and Guillermo Cubas, from Peru and Jose Miguel and Cecilia Fernandez, Manuel Emilio and Nella Montero and Gonzalo and Ileana Vega from Costa Rica.
The Campaign went further: it is not only in the West part of San Jose but there are also Pilgrim images in the East and North of the city.
The "walking" Virgin
On June 18th, during Sr. Virginia’s visit, twelve new missionaries made their promises to the Pilgrim MTA at the end of the Covenant Mass celebrated by Fr. Bruno, missionary from Colombia. Before that, the Sister gave a talk about "Mary’s evangelization in the homes and her blessing." Fr. Bruno said in his sermon that the Blessed Mother adapted herself to our times, when people spend more time on the street than in their houses, that is how she became the "walking" missionary. All that was said about the mission made the new missionaries very happy.
A group of young men in the Parish chose Mario Hiriart as their patron
Something beautiful happened during the Mass. Seven young men told Sister M. Virginia that they are part of a youth group in the Parish Maria Reina and that their group of fourteen young men had chosen Mario Hiriart as their patron saint. Each group was supposed to select a saint as their patron and they searched the Internet and found this saint, Later they contacted a Catholic Bookstore to get more details and this way they were able to come to the Schoenstatt Mass. "What an exciting moment for all! I welcome them and everybody applauded! Their email address reads: "San Mario Hiriart...." Father Echeverria who is in charge of the Prophetic Pastoral of the diocese office is open to all the riches that the Movements can offer to the Chuch. Sister Virginia brought him material about the Pilgrim Virgin and a book by Father Kentenich as a gift to the Bishop: "El Hombre Heroico." Fr. Echeverria asked her to send him a copy also and biographies a all the "Schoenstatt saints" to give the books to the young persons who want to decide on their vocations.
First Central American meeting: September 15, 2003 in Esquipulas, Guatemala
On September 15th will take place the First Central America Meeting in the city of Esquipulas, Guatemala, "faith capital in Central America" (John Paul II). A town near the border with Honduras and El Salvador is famous as a place for pilgrimage. Each year since 1599, near a million and a half pilgrims come to pray to a marvelous Black Christ placed in the area. Everybody feels the brotherhood there; is like a common homeland for all. Schoenstatt is also in Esquipulas; life after a Campaign started here thanks to a Puertorican Benedictine monk (Fr. Miguel Rodriguez) who learned about Schoenstatt in the Shrine of Hatillo (Puerto Rico). Gradually by contacting people in 1998 several groups started, of families, women and young professional women.
Looks like the MTA wants the Central American Family to be together...
The main aspiration of the Family in Costa Rica is to have a Shrine and feel part of the big Schoenstatt Family. The news from Schoenstatt international they find in schoenstatt.de are shared with the whole Family.
A small country but big in the aspiration of contributing to the Father’s dream of making this the world of God Father into a reality... greets the Schoenstatt Family in the whole world.
With material extracted from a report by Sr. M. Virginia Alvarez for the Newsletter of the Family in Ecuador.
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