Courageously approaching wider spheres
Gratitude and information: Holy Mass with the Schoenstatt Family closing the General Chapter of the Schoenstatt Fathers
SCHOENSTATT, mkf. The Adoration Church was filled to capacity on Saturday afternoon, August 30, when the General Chapter of the Schoenstatt Fathers celebrated a Holy Mass in Thanksgiving with the Schoenstatt family, honoring this way the wave of prayers and solidarity that had "flooded" the Chapter during the past four weeks. Father Heinrich Walter, General Superior, presented the new General Council, and gave a sketch of themes and focal points of the Chapter that had closed in the morning.
"I did not expect it to be that full," a woman in her fifties sighed in a mix of surprise and worry as she arrived few minutes before five o'clock, in vain looking for a free seat in the Adoration Church. Not only from Schoenstatt but from many places in Germany, the Schoenstatt came in crowds on this afternoon for the Holy Mass in Thanksgiving of the General Chapter of the Schoenstatt Fathers that had closed in the morning. Why the Schoenstatt Fathers this year "turned public" with the celebration of the Holy Mass on the Sion Feast, the anniversary of the Sion Shrine? Father Heinrich Walter explained right at the beginning that the Schoenstatt Fathers wanted to sincerely thank for the many signs of support, and solidarity, for the interest and prayers of the Schoenstatt family, and in order to present some themes and focal points of the Chapter.
And of course, he added, it was in order to satisfy the elementary need to get to know the faces and names of the new heads of the community. They are at the altar: Fr Heinrich Walter presided the Eucharist, next to him were Fr. Dr. Mario Romero, Chile, Fr. Dr. Paul Vautier, Switzerland, Fr. Angel Strada, Argentina, and P. Patricio Moore, Spain (Chile). Also at the alter: Fr. Dr. Michael Johannes Marmann, previous General Superior.
"We receive something like a family grace"
The entrance of the more than 40 members of the Chapter, together with novices, students, other Schoenstatt Fathers and diocesan priests, was a special experience. Common German hymns, accompanied by organ, and Latin American songs, alternated during the Holy Mass that impressed through its sincerity and simplicity. Father Guillermo Carmona (Argentina), and Father Marcel Mourat (Chile) with the Kyrie from Paraguay, in Guarani, and catchy, melodious songs, not only made the Adoration Church fill with an international flair, but also made many hum or sing along, latest with "Felicidad de vivir en tu casa". After communion, Fr. Paul Vautier played meditation music on the flute.
The many signs of attachment and solidarity had moved the Chapter to celebrate their Sion Feast with the entire Schoenstatt family, and share with them a bit of what this feast means to them in view of the Sion Queen, the Father and Founder, and their community.
A second reason for "turning public" and invite the Schoenstatt family to participate, were "that we belong to the Schoenstatt family, that we would not exist without the Schoenstatt family. "Pride and gratitude filled us during these weeks when we listened to the reports from the different countries, pride in the Schoenstatt family and gratitude for their life and growth. One of the central themes of the Chapter, he added, was the contribution of the Schoenstatt Fathers to the Movement, as the work for the Movement were their central task and mission. "We experience Schoenstatt as family", Father Walter said. "One of our deceased Schoenstatt Fathers, Fr. August Ziegler, coined a word for this reality that we link to this day as we celebrate the blessing of our Shrine; he spoke of the 'family grace'. Father August Ziegler said that in the Shrine we receive a special family grace. That means the grace to live in the most intimate and lasting unity with the Blessed Mother, with our Father, and with our siblings. This morning, during the closing act of the Chapter, in the Shrine, we asked the Sion Queen that she may give us a high degree of this family grace."
It is the wish to live in a loving unity, "that we receive the grace to live entirely for the family and thus contribute to the unity of the Movement in the diversity of the branches and communities, in the diversity of the cultures."
First of all a an Apostolic Movement
Schoenstatt is a Movement, and first of all an Apostolic Movement, said Fr. Walter. One of the focal points of the Chapter had been to envision how their priestly service could provide to this Movements future growth into its Apostolic dimension.
First of all, this would mean, for them, to live in the heart and in the spiritual openness of Father Kentenich, to live out of and to his openness for God's wish and plan, and with the openness that characterized his world approach.
The wider and larger fruitfulness of the Movement had been their central issue; there is a strong, and manifold growth, maybe not in Europe, he said, but in the international perspective. There would be many signposts at the route to future that indicate the way of Schoenstatt leading more deeply into the church and to wider sphere of the world and society. God's providence obviously urges "to go this way, to not stay with ourselves, enjoying each other and re-assuring each other again who we are and what we want, but to courageously approach wider spheres of church and society."
Signs for this direction were the building permission for the International Rome Shrine and Center, and the recent appointment of a Schoenstatt priest as archbishop of Freiburg.
The focus of attention is 2014, the centenary of Schoenstatt. A hope would be, "that in 2014 we do less celebrate ourselves, but that the church celebrate the fruits of Schoenstatt: 'By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples' (John 15,7).
Before the final blessing, all renewed the Covenant of Love with the sung "My Queen, my mother". Father Heinrich Walter added, in the name of the council: "Don't leave us alone now, don't bring to a standstill your solidarity and prayers, because our work has just begun."
After Mass was time for encounters and conversation. Obviously, all - Schoenstatt Fathers and Schoenstatt Family, old and new council members, Chapter members from all countries - had a lot of time and enjoyed the encounters. Congratulants stood in line, gratitude, greetings and farewells were overheard, smaller Chilean, Argentinean, Swiss, Brazilian, Burundian, Mexican talk groups formed. Father Heinrich Walter talked with three members of the Council of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. Mons Dr. Peter Wolf shared that the young priest from Burundi who is at present lost in a conversations with Sr Lisette just made his Perpetual Consecration, on the land of the future Shrine in Rome.
Father Kentenich made it N° 12 in the competition "The greatest Rhinelander", the MTA pictures in Celebes, Indonesia, come from Avvenwedde/Gütersloh, Germany, thanks to the Kolping Movement, tomorrow is the first anniversary of the Shrine in Cordoba, the Fathers will that day, August 31, meet with Bishop Dr Reinhard Marx, Trier, some of them will go to Rome, others are already packing to return…Nothing about Internet, such a marketplace of the family is made for sharing news!
Know about each other, share, enjoy the others' joy - Family.
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