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 published: 2003-11-12

A Schoenstatt Pilgrimage with a difference…

Shrine to Shrine pilgrimage in South Africa

Peregrinación de Santuario a Santuario - la etapa más dificil

Shrine to Shrine pilgrimage: the most difficult part at the steep incline of Table Mountain

Wallfahrt von Heiligtum zu Heiligtum an der steilsten Stelle


Vista a Ciudad del Cabo

View of Cape Town

Blick auf Kapstadt


Santa Misa en el Monte Table

Holy Mass at Table Mountain

Heilige Messe auf dem Tafelberg


Llegaron!! Santuario en Villa Maria, Ciudad del Cabo

Arrival! Shrine at Villa Maria, Cape Town

Geschafft! Heiligtum in Villa Maria, Kapstadt


Llegaron!! Santuario en Villa Maria, Ciudad del Cabo

Arrival! Shrine at Villa Maria, Cape Town

Geschafft! Heiligtum in Villa Maria, Kapstadt


Fotos: McClay © 2003


SOUTH AFRICA, Sr.Marion McClay. On September 24th, better known in South Africa, as Heritage Day, the Capetonian Schoenstatt Family continued its longstanding tradition of making a shrine to shrine pilgrimage via Table Mountain. Over 100 pilgrims of all ages gathered early in the morning at the Shrine in Constantia.

Excitement rose as they each registered receiving their colour coded ribbons for identity and filled in their intentions for the pilgrimage. We then had an opening devotion and received a blessing in the shrine. People came from all over Cape Town, old and new. Friends were made along the way and with a pride and sense of honour we walked behind a large picture of our Mother, our MTA which was carried on the back of one of our loyal pilgrims. This was surely a Table Mountain trek with a difference. The initial entry to the mountain, on such a beautiful day was invigorating and encouraging. Some fathers carried their children in a special back-pack ideal for such an occasion. We were on our way, on a holy pilgrimage and we had a mission to reach the Villa Maria shrine on the other side of the mountain in the centre of Cape Town by 5:00 p.m. Not only that but the theme of our pilgrimage was we walk for life…

A walk for life

The theme captured all our intentions, which we had gathered at the shrine and to which every pilgrim and others had contributed. For life means to walk with Our Lady for peace in our homes, in our hearts, in our society and country. For life means to walk for the unborn, for those suffering from aids and affected by aids or who are HIV of whom there are so many in our country, in our city. For life means to walk in faith together as a Schoenstatt Family for the growth of Schoenstatt in South Africa. For life means to walk for suitable housing for all, clothing, food, free education. For life means to walk for the young and the old, the sick and the healthy. For life means to walk for the unemployed, for justice in all spheres of life. For life means to walk for a stop to the abuse of women and children. For life means to walk for respect for life and for God's creation.

A test to faith, determination and of course fitness

The Schoenstatt Girls Youth set the tone of the walk with an opening statio at the bottom of the mountain in the forest where we sang and prayed for all the intentions that were in our hearts. The atmosphere was one of joy and hope at this stage. The weather was just perfect, sunny, clear and not too hot. Young and old alike encouraged each other along as most of us knew this was the hardest part of the pilgrimage. We were climbing Table Mountain so that meant at some stage having to go up. On the way we had another statio prepared by the youth of a nearby parish. This gave us the strength and courage we needed to face the famous steps, which just kept going up and up. Young people stopped to catch their breath, which was an encouraging site for those of the older age bracket who were struggling although very much still on the move and climbing, determined to make the next step. This part of the pilgrimage was the biggest test to our faith, determination and of course fitness but our MTA was victorious, she led the way and once we reached a level path on the mountain we could sigh in relief and stand back in awe at the wonder of God's creation seen from on high.

Holy Mass on Table Mountain

Now the way was easy and we made our way to a designated spot where we would meet with others for Holy Mass. Yes, Holy Mass on Table Mountain is a unique spiritual experience. On arrival some more pilgrims joined us who had come up an easier route including some Irish pilgrims who had come to spend some time at Schoenstatt. What a start to their holiday. By now the midday sun was rising and it was clear that our young Capetonians were not used to walking all that much. The mass had been prepared by the youth, and it was a joy to have two young people carry their guitar the entire pilgrimage. An altar had been set up in as much shade as could be found at that point and everyone looked for their "holy spot". It was family celebration. As this was a public holiday there were many climbers on the mountain who passed us with respect and wonder. After Mass it was lunch and then we had to get moving again. Spirits were refreshed and moving in and out of the forests on the mountain gave us a cool shade from the hot sun. In between pauses we were able to savour the magnificent views of Cape Town. On reaching the road leading to the cable car people were beginning to slow down and now there was no more shade from the very hot sun. Rosaries were prayed along the way and we all managed to get to the shrine at Villa by 5:30 p.m. for a welcomed refreshment and benediction. This was a truly blessed pilgrimage with a difference.

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