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 published: 2003-07-21

In the communion of faith - and the Covenant of Love

Ordination of Monsignor Robert Zollitsch as Archbishop of Freiburg, July 20, 2003

20 de julio de 2003: Ordenación de Monseñor Robert Zollitsch como Arzobispo de Friburgo

July 20, 2003: Ordination of Robert Zollitsch as Archbishop of Freiburg

20. Juli 2003: Bischofsweihe von Robert Zollitsch und Amtseinführung als Bischof von Freiburg


Tocar la eternidad: Procesión de entrada de sacerdotes, diáconos y servidores de la Misa

A moment of touching eternity: Solemn entrance procession of bishops, priests, deacons, and mass servers

Ewigkeit berühren: Feierlicher Einzug von Bischöfen, Priestern, Diakonen, Messdienern


El nuevo Arzobispo, saludando a la gente

The new Archbishop greeting the people

Der neue Erzbischof begrüßt die Menschen


El Arzobispo es "conquistado" por la multitud, firmando autógrafos. Reina un clima de festejo.

The archbishop is "conquered" by the crowd, singing autographs. It's a climate of celebration.

Die Menge hat den Erzbischof erobert und will Autogramme. Es wird gefeiert!


Un gran cartel: "La familia de Schoenstatt saluda al nuevo Arzobispo".

A big banner announces: "The Schoenstatt family greets the new Archbishop"

Mit einem großen Transparent drückt die Schönstattfamilie ihre Freude aus


En el Santuario de Friburgo, la familia de Schoenstatt había comenzado con una oración.

In the Schoenstatt Shrine in Freiburg, the Schoenstatt family had met for a prayer service

Im Schönstattheiligtum von Freiburg hatte die Schönstattfamilie den Festtag begonnen.

Fotos: POS Fischer © 2003




GERMANY, Freiburg, mkf. "Our Archbishop. Our feast. Our joy." The joy of the faithful of the archdiocese of Freiburg in the ordination of their new archbishop was tangible, on this sunny and hot July 20. This joy was genuinely and tangibly shared and topped by the Schoenstatt family of the archdiocese, and far beyond. On the day when Schoenstatt offered a new place of grace, a new Shrine to the Blessed Mother and the world, the first Shrine in the Philippines, Mons. Dr. Robert Zollitsch, member of the Schoenstatt Institute of diocesan priests, was ordained archbishop of the diocese of Freiburg, Germany. Schoenstatt members of the archdiocese, the neighboring dioceses, and from Schoenstatt, joined in the celebration and feast of "our archbishop", who in his talk focused on the community in faith, God's fatherly closeness and interest in each person, and the family of those loved and guided by him -without borders of states, denominations -, all of us being pilgrims under the protection of Mary.

July 20, 2003, noon time. The bell of the "Shrine of Vocation" is ringing for the Angelus, and some 150 Schoenstatt members, in the Shrine and around, pray the prayer of vocation, the prayer of this shrine. Robert Zollitsch has been among those who conquered this shrine. It was his course of the Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests that conquered, especially, the bell. A copy of this bell, conquered long since, will soon ring in Rome, the city of the Popes, in the International Schoenstatt Shrine. Vocatus voco, I call the called ones, says the bell. Robert Zollitsch was called. Two and a half hours later he would enter the Cathedral of Freiburg - well visible from this Shrine placed beautifully at the slope of a hill covered with grapevine - to receive the bishop's ordination as completion of his priesthood and become a successor of the apostles, being included by imposition of the hands of other bishops in the Apostolic Succession - the lines of bishops who each received their mission from bishops who themselves had received it: like an ever again forwarded mail with a precious attachment, the original sender being Jesus, and the list of "forwards" still included in the mail dating back to one of the apostles.

From the Shrine to the Diocesan Cathedral - a program

The Schoenstatt Family of Freiburg had invited to begin the feast of the ordination in this Shrine, and pray the Angelus there together. Meta Bender, of the Women Federation, who had been Mons. Zollitsch's secretary for 20 years, welcomed those who came - some 40 persons with a bus from Oberkirch; others were there by car, from several places of the diocese, and from Schoenstatt. Refreshments and sweet bread were offered, and the joyful anticipation visibly grew when Schoenstatt stickers were give to each one, and when the joyful greeting and sharing started. Those from Oberkirch wore the scarves with the Schoenstatt logo, well-known from the World Youth Day. But these were adult Germans, and they would wear these scarves also in the cathedral and around, during the Mass and afterwards…"It is time for us, as Schoenstatt family, to end hiding away," Hannelore Spannagel, responsible of the Mothers' League, said. "We are called with this nomination of our archbishop, to present our riches and offer our charisma to the church. Now is the moment to set out, to reach out!"

Monsignor Wolf, director General of the Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests, at the beginning of the prayer service in the Shrine, said that he knew Robert Zollitsch since 45 years, when both were in the Schoenstatt Boys' Youth. This Shrine, he said, is the spiritual home of Archbishop Zollitsch; soon after he learned about his nomination, he went here. Robert Zollitsch visited Milwaukee and met Father Kentenich when he was there; he wanted to know first-hand what the Founder thought and how he was…Robert Zollitsch is closely linked also to the founding of the Institute of Diocesan Priests, the Joseph-Kentenich-Institute, the Shrine in Rome. Father Michael Gerber invited all to pray as the Freiburg Schoenstatt family had done at the Shrines the past nine days, and then set out from the Shrine to the diocesan cathedral, not only now as to join the ordination, but as a program for Schoenstatt now: "As Schoenstatt family we want to go into the diocese!" We should ask ourselves: What do we bring into the Church? What is the valuable acquisition the church will receive from Schoenstatt? How do we answer to the call that this ordination means?

"Never before I talked so much about Schoenstatt during one morning!"

Those who arrive to the already crowded square of the Cathedral in Freiburg one hour before the beginning, are welcomed by a super-sized banner: "The Schoenstatt family greet the new archbishop". Beneath, a "Bishops' cake" (type wedding cake), made of 1,000 muffins… and there are enough muffins "stored". "Never before I talked so much about Schoenstatt in one morning," Judith Weber said. She had helped set up the cake in the morning. And indeed, between muffins and wondering about the banner, the young men with flags with the same symbol and radiant people of all ages with Schoenstatt stickers and scarves, people start to ask about Schoenstatt, tell own remote Schoenstatt memories … A couple from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was dazzled to find Schoenstatt and not a single Pilgrim MTA at such a feast: In Brazil, they say, Schoenstatt is a big Movement that everybody knows, thanks to the Pilgrim Mother, they also receive her, of course, and were on a pilgrimage to the Shrine in Atibaia recently! For a photo, they borrow the Schoenstatt flag from one of the young men!

The speeding up of technicians from TV and radio, and music announce that the celebration will begin soon. Those who have a special invitation, file into the Cathedral, the others will join the Mass outside, seeing more than those inside thanks to live broadcast transmitted to huge video screens.

Monsignor Zollitsch stand near the entrance, receiving the well-wishes of persons whom he knows or will know. Father Michael Marmann, Fr. Heinrich Walter, Mons. Peter Wolf, Fr. Michael Schapfel, Fr. Lothar Penners, and a lot more Schoenstatt Fathers and priests greet him here. More and more priests are approaching, many already dressed in liturgical vestment, bishops, cardinals… The Church is celebrating the mystery that keeps it going: Christ is present and continues to lead his Church through his chosen instruments.

Duc in altum - into the width, and depth of the Divine Life, into the width and depth of people's hearts

The Cathedral is filled, as is the square outside. It is 2:30 PM, and after the music and the joyful noise of celebration, it is totally silent for a moment. And then the entrance procession of the priests, deacons, and mass servers begins, and with this the holy, traditional ceremony of the bishop's ordination. Diocesan administrator Auxiliary Bishop Paul Wehrle welcomes the guests, and after the liturgical opening by former Archbishop Oscar Saier, the Papal Certificate of appointment is solemnly read. The Apostolic Nuncio in Germany, Archbishop Dr. Giovanni Lajolo, in his welcoming speech talks about the three central symbols that make clear what a bishop is for his diocese: the bishop's crosier, the cathedra, and the mitre: symbolizing the three fundamental tasks of the bishop: lead, teach, and sanctify the faithful. He read a passage from a letter that Archbishop Saier had sent to him, about his appreciation of his successor, and closed with a reference to the Pope's wish for the new millennium: Duc in altum - into the width, and depth of the Divine Life, into the width and depth of people's hearts.

Former archbishop Saier, in his sermon, he talks about mutual love as sign of real discipleship, foundation and goal of each community in the spirit of Jesus, be it a family, parish, order, diocese, or the whole church. In the here and now, he motivated all to open their hearts for God; he encouraged to also pray for all priests, the Holy Father , the neighboring dioceses, for Peru (partner land), for the Lutheran Church.

Then, the solemn ceremony began… The designed archbishop expressed his readiness, and then, prostrated on the floor, the priest Robert Zollitsch surrendered himself to God who had called him for a new task, while the faithful sang the All Saints' Litany - a special joy being Karl Leisner mentioned -, to then, through the imposition of the hands, become bishop, successor of the apostles. "Knowing, this is someone from our ranks, no, knowing this is someone who lives in the Covenant of Love, made me shiver, a young woman said, after the new archbishop had received ring, mitre, and crosier.

And how might Diocesan Director Fr. Lukas Wehrle have felt, when he, with the deacons, went ahead to promise faithfulness to his fellow companion in the Institute? "It was such an impressive atmosphere that one could hardly think anything else. But this morning, thinking of it I had to quickly go to the Shrine and pray!" - "It was a very personal experience for me," Fr. Gedemer said, course brother of Archbishop Zollitsch. "He got to know Schoenstatt through me, I know him since 50 years, I know all the stages of his life, and now he is our archbishop… It is a tremendous joy."

In the communion of faith

The new archbishop in his talk focused on the community in faith, God's fatherly closeness and interest in each person, and the family of those loved and guided by him -without borders of states, denominations -, pilgrims under the protection of Mary. He thus enfolded the motto he had chosen: In the communion of faith. "He, who has called us to the communion of faith and brought us together, he supports us and gives us life. And that means: we are not lost in this world, not a little grain of sand, without place and home in the universe. We have a foundation that carries our lives, a foundation, that gives us a home. God knows each of us with our names. We war loved by Jesus and brothers and sisters in faith. It is breathtaking: this endless, great God is interested in me, in each of us. Our life thus has a meaning and a goal: eternal life with God, and with those with whom we are united now. Our Christians faith lifts this world up to God. We have to proclaim something in this world, we have something to give to humankind… We want to share our faith with the brothers and sisters walking next to us. Our Christian faith is without limits and therefore international and ecumenical by nature… I entrust my service as bishop to Mary, the patroness of our diocese!" At the end of the celebration, the "Salve Regina", written most probably in this diocese, was sung….

After the Eucharist, and the new Archbishop walking through the cathedral to bless and greet (with enormous applause), Cardinal Lehmann, minister Annette Schavan, Lutheran Bishop Dr.Ulrich Fischer, mayor Dr. Dieter Salomon, and Christel Ruppert for the Diocesan Committee of Catholics, expressed their wishes and gratitude.

A Day of Joy

Outside the Cathedral, crowds had gathered to see the archbishop who processed outside the church with the priests. "I happened to stand right there where all walked out, and I saw a big joy in the faces of the Schoenstatt Fathers and priests when they saw me and my co-sister, they greeted," Sister Dominika said, "it was then when I realized how important it was that so many of us were here." Waiting for the archbishop to appear again, the Schoenstatt members turned to the stand with the Bishop's cake that still attracted many. What does this day mean to you, Hannelore Spannagel was asked: "Joy, just joy, and a big hope, the hope that we feel motivated ever more to give all to the church." It is tangible that Schoenstatt celebrates! The moderator asks all, who want to be mentioned, and Schoenstatt is mentioned several times. "Is your general superior also here? ," a young man asked a Sister. Seeing the question mark in her eyes, he adds: "You feel this is a real big party, for all the Schoenstatters, and I thought your Superior General was here!"

The archbishop is "conquered" by the crowd, giving autographs (a Schoenstatt mother conquers one on her scarf!), greeting… "It is our Archbishop, and it is our feast."

On the way home in the bus, a song is presented to the pilgrims, that was sung to Bishop Zollitsch the day when he visited Oberkirch. It is sung to the tone of the Song of Baden, the regional song (secret national hymns). With a spectacular sunset, a day of joy is ending…

When will we see our Archbishop?

"Our Archbishop" - will be in Schoenstatt on October 18 and celebrate the Covenant Mass at 7:30 in the Pilgrims' Church. He will be in Oberkirch next year to celebrate the annual fest of the shrine.

In January, he will visit Peru, the partner country of the diocese of Freiburg. Ordained on the day of the dedication of the shrine I the Philippines, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch maybe then will be able to pray in the then youngest shrine of the world the Shrine in Lima, that the Schoenstatt family hopes to dedicate by the end of the year.

Photos on the web page of the archdiocese of Freiburg:
German text of the sermons etc. available under:

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