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 published: 2004-03-05

From the Desert to the Garden

Sion 2004

Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, Schoenstatt Priests, Father’s Region

P. Juan Pablo Catoggio, Superior Regional

Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, Regional Superior

P. Juan Pablo Catoggio, Regionaloberer

Foto: Pol © 2004


El Consejo con el P. Heinrich Walter (centro): P. Juan José Riba, P. Juan Pablo Catoggio, P.Heinrich Walter, P. Guillermo Carmona, P. Antonio Cosp (de izq.)

The Council with Fr. Heinrich Walter (center): Fr. Juan José Riba, Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, Fr. Heinrich Walter, Fr. Guillermo Carmona, Fr. Antonio Cosp (from left)

Die Regioleitung mit Pater Heinrich Walter (Mitte): P. Juan José Riba, P. Juan Pablo Catoggio, P.Heinrich Walter, P. Guillermo Carmona, P. Antonio Cosp (von links)


Los futuros novicios de Paraguay y Argentina

The future novices from Paraguay and Argentina

Die zukünftigen Novizen aus Paraguay und Argentinien


Misa en acción de gracias

Mass in thanksgiving



P. Juan José Riba con participantes

Fr. Juan José Riba with participants

P. Juan José Riba mit Teilnehmern

Fotos: Gago © 2004


From the Desert…

We celebrate the first ten years of the Shrine. Ten years is not a long time, but it is what has happened during those years that is significant.

The 80’s began when we acquired the land in several stages. Like always, -or almost always– Fr. Esteban was the pioneer. The land was abandoned, with no trees; like a dump yard. A little hill of trees sheltered us early on a morning in 1985, when the priests made a covenant with our founder and father and we confided to him our dream. Right then was the blessing of the wayside shrine close to the street, and another was set in the middle of the piece of land; also, in 1985 it was inaugurated Children’s House Joseph Kentenich.

In 1988 the central residence of the Fathers was built. Its first inhabitants were the novices from the first Iberoamerican course who has recently returned to us by the gift of Providence. These novices had begun the novitiate led by Fr. Guillermo Carmona, in the retreat house located in Tuparenda. They came from a tropical paradise to an inhospitable piece of land. How to convert that desert into a garden? How to transform a dump and uncultivated soil into a Garden for Mary, into a garden for the Father? Isn’t that indeed our mission in today’s world?

That’s how we rediscovered the value of Sion, God’s land according to the biblical passage that Fr. Kentenich bestowed on the Schoenstatt Fathers as a symbol of our mission. Sion is God’s dwelling. It is the city of the Great King. It is the home of the poor where all peoples go on a pilgrimage, Mary’s people. It is the fountain of life and the compass that guides us.

… to the garden

The desert was being transformed into a garden, the dump turned into a small paradise. In 1994, Sion’s Queen established her Queenship there and we, in exchange for her gift, made her another gift: we built her a Shrine.

The novices moved temporarily to Tuparenda, in Paraguay, the Schoenstatt Fathers moved in. It was however, a prolonged ‘temporary’ move. The "Sion del Plata", as it came to be knownm kept on growing. Bigger trees continued giving us better shade to protect us. Moreover, the "Joseph-Engling Youth Center" was being built as well as the Gabriel De Carli Cabin. For sometime we sheltered our two "monks" here… Later, the cemetery opened its doors to Fr. Santiago and Fr. Esteban, where they rest in peace, along with many family members and friends.

Who would have dreamed, ten or fifteen years ago that Sion today would be like this? It is true, there is still much to do. It is also true that it had cost and will cost even greater efforts. The dream is possible: Sion is not just a utopia. A new world can be built. We need to begin with each other’s hearts and homes, and to faithfully continue, day by day, without giving up. If we do our job and if we put our trust in the good Father and the power of our blessed Queen, one day our nation will be a family paradise for everyone.

"Nothing is impossible for God", is what Mary learned from the Annunciation and she wants to show it to us in her shrine, because Sion is sign and proof of hope.

Your desert can be a garden, your dump, a paradise. Why not believe it? Why not try it? Today we celebrate ten years of the Sion Shrine. We celebrate our faith and our hope.

Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio.
Schoenstatt Fathers, Father Region, Argentina-Uruguay-Paraguay

Translation: Carmen Barruel, Belgium/Paula Dudgeon, USA

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