The Beginning of a Great Feast!!
Opening of the Centenary of the Birth of João Luiz Pozzobon
BRAZIL. December 12, 2003. On the day that Latin America commemorates their Patron Our Lady of Guadalupe begins the centenary of the birth of God’s servant João Luiz Pozzobon. The Schoenstatt Family and the Santa Maria Diocese marked the beginning of a year in preparation for the celebration of the Feast with a Special Eucharistic celebration next to the Tabor Shrine, in Santa Maria. Many Argentinean and Brazilian Pilgrim MTA missionaries attended as well as relatives of Deacon Pozzobon.
"What will Deacon Pozzobon provide us with tonight?" that was the question many were wondering the morning of December 12th. The last two days in Santa Maria had been rainy and with strong winds; and everyone’s recollections of the celebration of the 2000 Golden Jubilee of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign was still fresh, even accompanied by rain and storms. "John Pozzobon was a man who was not afraid to make sacrifices while accomplishing his mission. It seems that every significant date, his or of the Campaign, was marked by this spirit".
Against all these expectations, however, the night of December the 12th, 2003 could not have been more pleasant. The current climate contradicted the accustomed hot December "gaucho" nights.
As soon as the first pilgrims arrived from Obera City, Argentina, early in the afternoon, you could feel the festive ambiance next to the Tabor Shrine – so loved and important to John Pozzobon’s life –. Later that evening other two groups from neighboring cities arrived, and close to 7:00 p.m. the grades in front of the Shrine were practically packed with missionaries of the Campaign of the Schoenstatt Pilgrim MTA from Santa Maria and urban areas.
Many commented: "I personally met John Pozzobon and I’m glad I can participate on this year’s festive opening!" The celebration was honored by Mr. Valdeci de Oliveira, the Santa Maria City Manager. In his speech, he emphasized the importance and significance of John Pozzobon to the people of Santa Maria.
A family Feast
A special note on the celebration was the participation of John Pozzobon’s children, grandchildren and great grand children. A very significant fact, since he was considered by many a true "family apostle". At the beginning of the Holy Eucharistic the missionaries’ children and grandchildren presented a choreography representing the Deacon’s life through gestures and dances.
As a matter of fact, the God’s Servant role was played by John Pozzobon’s great grand child, Mauricio, 10. Mauricio was wearing suit and tie like his great grand father when carrying the Pilgrim Mother, and he was taking one pilgrim MTA to the children who represented schools, family, prisoners, and sick people, whom he visited during his 35 years of apostolate.
The Beginning of a Great Feast!
Father Argemiro Ferracoli, postulator of process of canonization of John Pozzobon, presided the celebration, and he reminded the presents that this is only the opening of the centenary and it should turn out to be a thanksgiving year-round event for those who participate in the Schoenstatt Pilgrim MTA Campaign and for the Santa Maria Diocese.
"Celebrate this feast" Fr. Argemiro said "it also means to take on the responsibility of the apostolic commitment of John Pozzobon, his love for the poor and humble".
Another relevant fact was the presence of three permanent deacons from the Diocese.
One of them recollected "John Pozzobon was a deacon from our Diocese! And next year we’d like to gather together all permanent deacons of the diocese and celebrate the great centenary feast, here next to the Shrine!"
This year’s concrete effort for all those who work for João Pozzobon’s beatification would be the improvements to John Pozzobon’s home here in Santa Maria. The Schoenstatt Movement of Santa Maria transformed his house in a place for reflection and encounter with the person of John Pozzobon and the Campaign he had begun. As symbol of that effort was the collection from the Holy Eucharistic, and everyone present was able to contribute.
One of the organizers pointed out, after mass, that the number of partakers was not as high as they were expecting. "These are difficult times here in Brazil, since this date coincides with the end of the school year but we are also conscious that we are just at the beginning of the year long celebration. The highest moment will be September of 2004, when a very important National Congress will be held. This Congress is open to participants from other countries of the world and we expect a great concentration on John Pozzobon's birthday: December 12th! For that day sure enough we count with many participants."
Yes! The feast has just began!
Translation: Vera Gamez, Austin, Texas, USA
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