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 published: 2003-10-21

The phenomenon of Tuparenda

October 18th, 2003 – Covenant Day - 22nd anniversary of the Schoenstatt Shrine in Tuparenda, Paraguay

El  Santuario Nacional, engalanado para la fiesta, recibió la visita incesante de los fieles.

The Natianol Shrine in feastday decoration, continuously received the visit of pilgrims.,

Das Landesheiligtum im Festtagsschmuck wurde unaufhörlich von Pilgern besucht.


La Mater y San Roque González de Santa Cruz  peregrinan por Tupãrenda; en brazos de la juventud y acompañados por miles de fieles.

The Blessed Mother and St. Roque Gonzalez of Santa Cruz in pilgrimage to Tuparenda, in the arms of young people and accompanied by thousands of pilgrims

Die Gottesmutter und St. San Roque González de Santa Cruz  auf dem Weg nach Tupãrenda, in den Armen von Jugendlichen, begleitet von Tausenden von Pilgern.


Procesión de llegada de la imagen Auxiliar al altar

The Auxiliary being carried to the altar

Die Auxiliar wird vor jeder Messe feierlich zum Altar getragen


Santa Misa a las 20.00 hs., otra vez con miles de peregrinos

Holy Mass at 8.00 PM, again with thousands of pilgrims

Heilige Messe um 20.00 Uhr, wieder mit Tausenden von Pilgernde Gottesmutter


Peregrinas adornadas con flores, y un cuadro de la Madre Teresa

Pilgrim MTA pictures "framed" with flowers, and a picture of Mother Theresa

Bilder der Pilgernden Gottesmutter, von Blütenkränzen eingerahmt, und ein Bild von Mutter Teresa


Un gran testimonio de fe aportaron los casi 40.000 peregrinos que acudieron a Tupãrenda, para asistir a las cuatro Misas celebradas en la explanada de la futura iglesia Santa María de la Trinidad.

The almost 40,000 pilgrims that came to Tupãrenda to participate in one of the four Masses celebrated in the shell of the future Pilgrims' Church, gave an impressive testimony of faith.

Ein beeindruckendes Glaubenszeugnis gaben die fast 40.000 Menschen, die an den vier Messen im Rohbau der zukünftigen Pilgerkirche teilnahmen.


El Ballet de Susy Sacco, acompañó en cada Misa la procesión de llegada de la imagen Auxiliar al altar

The dance group of Susy Sacco accompanied in each Mass the arrival of the Auxiliary

Die Ballettgruppe von Susy Sacco begleitete in jeder Messe die Anlunft der Auxiliar.


Una alegoría sobre el paso de las tinieblas del mundo a la luz de Dios por medio de María.

A choreography about the darknesses of the world illumined by God through Mary.

Eine Choreographie zum Dunkel der Welt, das vom Gotteslicht erhellt wird durch die Mitwirkung von Maria.


Durante la Misa

During the Mass

Bei der Messe


Uno de los muchos grupos de jovenes

One of the many youth groups

Eine der vielen Jugendgruppen


Bendición de peregrinos

Blessing of pilgrims



Un grupo de voluntarios

A group of volunteers, tired but happy

Eine Gruppe Freiwilliger, müde aber glücklich


Los novicios de los Padres de Schoenstatt, en la última Misa del día

The novices of the Schoenstatt Fathers in the last Mass of the day

Das Noviziat der Schönstatt-Patres in der letzten Messe des Tages


Entrada de la Auxiliar, Misa de 20.00hs.

Entrance of the Auxiliary, Mass at 8.00 PM

Einzug der Auxiliar, Messe um 20.00 Uhr

Fotos: Marcelo Luzardi; Federico Cosp; Rocío Flecha; Carlos Aguirre;  José A. Zanotti - Rochester Lab.Color © 2003




PARAGUAY, Sr. M. Edna. Under bright sunshine, thousands of the MTA’s children – yes, thousands, between thirty five and forty thousand – gathered in Tuparenda ("God’s dwelling", in guarani), in the national Schoenstatt Shrine of Paraguay to celebrate the Covenant Day and a new anniversary of this shrine. Everyone wanted to show the MTA their gratitude, their favors, requests and above all their gifts of love. They all had many blessings and hopes to carry back home.

Months ahead, the teams had started preparing the great festivity of the Covenant in Tuparenda, giving the Virgin many hours of work, of preparation, of personal commitment, motivated by their childlike love to their Mother and Queen. Like in previous years, the people in charge were there the day before the celebration to supervise the last details.

From the very early hours, a festive atmosphere, joyful and enthusiastic

There was a clear sky at dawn on the 18th. From early morning the beautiful music of the Paraguayan harp filled the air with Schoenstatt songs welcoming the first pilgrims. Meanwhile, many volunteer helpers completed the finishing touches to receive thousands of people coming from different parts of the country.

As in previous years, there were several tents. One of the tents was for the Fr. Kentenich Secretariat with information about our founder. Information about Sr. M. Emilie was available in this tent. The tent of the Rosary Campaign of the Pilgrim MTA was well visited during the whole day. Several groups from different cities brought their Auxiliary Pilgrim MTA decorated with many flowers. Next door, the stand of the Home Shrines and a tent where the pilgrims could leave their presents: some non-perishable food for the needy. And finally the religious shop, a popular place because everybody wanted to take a souvenir of the MTA back home with them: an image, a rosary, a print, medals, fliers, etc.

In front of the Pilgrim’s House was the communications tent, where, with well chosen texts they informed the pilgrims of the activities of the festivity and its origin: the Covenant of Love that our Father and Founder made on October 18th, 1914. From there were transmitted Schoenstatt songs and the typical joyful music from Paraguay. It all contributed to a vivid atmosphere full of joy and enthusiasm. There was another tent were they sold T-shirts and handicrafts to collect money for the construction of the church. Many pilgrims left their "piggy-banks" there filled with the coins they had saved during the year.

Most important: The Shrine

Most importantly the pilgrims first visited the Shrine, many taking their Pilgrim MTAs. The Shrine was beautifully decorated with a garland of flowers around the door and pretty white flower arrangements by the altar. A typical Paraguayan tablecloth covered the altar. From the tower of the Shrine, big tricolor flags hung down both sides.

All day long there were pilgrims filling the shrine and praying in silence, presenting their offerings to the Virgin. It was remarkable to see the devotion and simplicity that filled the shrine that day.

At the entrance of the "Maria de la Trinidad" Church

The masses were celebrated in the "portico", the great entrance of the future church "Maria de la Trinidad" that is under construction ‘in the shadow of the Shrine.’ Many hands had prepared the decorations. There was a huge image of the MTA that had flower arrangements on both sides. To one side of the "portico", one of the Paraguayan folklore symbols, the cart, and on it the figure of the first Paraguayan saint, St. Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz, a Jesuit priest and the first martyr of the stabbed heart, who lived the invincible love of God and his Kingdom. There were many clay pots, flowers and the flag of Paraguay in different places to remind us that from Schoenstatt we want to help the MTA to build a new Paraguay, "God’s Nation, heart of America"

This year we had four Eucharist celebrations. At 9 o’clock and with the presence of thousands of people was the first Mass. It was very beautiful. The Pilgrim MTA made an entrance in the middle of the applause of the participants. A group of young girls dressed in their typical folklore colors walked in front of the Virgin who was brought to the altar accompanied with the native music and the handkerchiefs waving. Following the image were the acolytes, several priests and Monsignor Ricardo Valenzuela, who was the main celebrant.

After his homily the faith in the presence and work of the MTA from the Shrine was proclaimed by the pilgrimage blessings and the Covenant of Love with her was renewed. The Bishop expressed on several occasions his joy in celebrating the Covenant next to this Shrine. As a young priest, Monsignor Valenzuela had made the Covenant of Love with the MTA.

During all this time there was a continuous flow of pilgrims. They all went straight to the Shrine to greet the Queen. Many brought their pilgrim images to be sent once again by the MTA to their places of action.

A real multitude of pilgrims

The Holy Mass of 11:30 was celebrated ‘inside’ the future church by Fr. Cruz Viale, a Schoenstatt Father. More pilgrims, mainly young people participated in it. We could already guess how this church will look when it is ready to shelter all of Mary’s children who visit on such occasions.

After this celebration and under a strong sun, the pilgrims searched for the cooler shadow of the numerous trees and spread around the area to have some lunch. The cafeteria provided what many people needed.

Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon many pilgrims were arriving for the Holy Mass at 4 PM. It was like a land slide. It was beautiful to see how the first thing everyone did was to go to the shrine to greet the Virgin on her day. And it is a long climbing way. They came in large numbers. The sky greeted them with a shining sun.

This Holy Mass had probably the largest number of participants; some estimated near 15,000 people. The joyful applause and singing saw no end when the MTA made again an entrance preceded by the youngsters dressed in the typical costumes while some of the boys carried a large flag of Paraguay. The happiness of the audience was overwhelming; it was like touching heaven with your hands.

The Holy Mass was dedicated especially to the sick and the aged. It was touching to see so many in wheel chairs, their hands together or holding the image of the Virgin. Some of them had tears in their eyes while receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. The celebration was introduced by a gentleman belonging to the Family Federation who has been in a wheelchair for years.

It is faith what moves them...

Another touching moment was to see the couple who brought the offertory to the altar. Two people helped the husband who suffered an accident two years ago and is learning how to walk again. When they reached the altar people spontaneously applauded.

During the homil,y Monsignor Pastor Cuquejo, Archbishop of Asuncion, said that the "portico" resembled the open arms of the Mater who wants to greet all her children. On several occasions he expressed his happiness in sharing in this beautiful and special day with the Schoenstatt Family. At the end of the Mass he told us not to stop loving Mary, to remain her instruments and to make this our own special seal.

At the end of the Eucharist there was a moment for adoration of Jesus in the Custody, alternating prayers with the songs of the choir. Then a Schoenstatt Father took the Eucharist to the sick and the aged. This was a wonderful moment. It reminded us of the days when Jesus walked among the sick and everyone wanted to touch him. It was the same thing here. The pilgrims surrounded the priest with the Custody; some tried to touch it with their hands, with the rosary, with a print, or whatever. The religious soul of the people in Paraguay was visibly expressed in various ways.

After the celebration the pilgrims rested under the trees, bought some souvenirs, paid a visit to the Shrine. And more pilgrims kept arriving, especially Schoenstatt members because the Mass at 8 p.m. was dedicated to the Schoenstatt Family. Thousands of people gathered once more.

The top of happiness

The main celebrant was Fr. Antonio Cosp, Director of the National Movement, accompanied by other Fathers and all the novices. The movement choir sang and once again the girls with the typical costumes entered with the Pilgrim Mother. This Holy Mass was the culmination of the festivity. It was all one great experience of the Covenant, showing the conscious commitment to build a new Paraguay, and expressed in a variety of manners and symbols.

Our Mother and Queen showed herself in full splendor, reflected in each detail: in the Shrine, the ‘portico’, the faces of thousands of her children coming to this place and above all in the joy and happiness, the politeness. The helpful attitude was evident in so many people who worked for days and weeks to make this festivity a real success. They could not participate in all the ceremonies because they were working hard to serve the rest: in the cafeteria, in the stands, in the parking lot, or at the entrance of the Shrine keeping an orderly circulation of visitors. With a smile, with happiness, gratitude and in a most natural way, it was all done to make this a wonderful encounter with the Mother and Queen.

A great festivity where heaven touched earth...
This festivity reminds us of something said by our Founder in the Home Song:
" This wonderland is known to me… "

Translation: Carmen Barruel, Belgium/ Paula Dudgeon, Minnesota, USA

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