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 published: 2004-07-13

"No one would have dared dream that we would gather here from all parts of the world with such gratitude and joy"

"Schoenstatt Family-Milwaukee '04": Understanding, loving, living, sharing the Exile legacy and the place of grace that grants it

50 años del Santuario de Exilio, Milwaukee

50 years of the Exile Shrine, Milwaukee

Fünfzig Jahre Exilheiligtum, Milwaukee


Visita al Santuario Hogar del matrimonio Yank

Visiting the Home Shrine of the Yank family

Besuch im Hausheiligtum von Familie Yank

Foto: Yank c 2004


Se presenta: Ecuador

Ecuador presenting

Ecuador stellt sich vor


Coronación de la Mater




11 de julio: Charla central: P. Jonathan Niehaus

July 11: Programmatic talk: Fr. Jonathan Niehaus

11. Juli: Programmatischer Vortrag: P. Jonathan Niehaus


Encuentro con el Padre

Encounter with the Father

Begegnung mit dem Vater und Gründer


Fotos: © 2004

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USA, Margaret Steinhage Fenelon. "No one would have dared dream that we would gather here from all parts of the world with such gratitude and joy", said Father Heinrich Walter, President of the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Movement in the sermon of the closing Mass of the international celebrations taking place in Milwaukee July 8 -11, 2004, on behalf of the 50th anniversary of the Exile Shrine. Understanding, loving, living, sharing the Exile legacy and the holy place that holds the Exile graces: this was the experience of the 500 or so pilgrims from 16 countries during these days.

The first full day of the encounter, July 9, the pilgrims from around the world were already well acquainted with one another and friendly exchanges took place throughout the grounds of the International Schoenstatt Center. After breakfast at the various lodging places, the international family once again gathered under the huge white tent near the International Shrine of the Father Kingdom, colorfully decorated for the four-day encounter.

A Marian Shrine for the local Church, a Schoenstatt Shrine for the United States Schoenstatt Family, and an Extraordinary Schoenstatt Shrine for the International Schoenstatt Family.

The first talk was given my Michael Fenelon, of McHenry, Illinois USA. Michael and his wife, Margaret Yank Fenelon, knew Father Kentenich as children; their parents were members of the group called the Pioneer Couples who met with Father for the famous Monday Night talks. Entitled "The History and Meaning of the Exile Shrine in Milwaukee," the talk outlined the historical value of the Exile Shrine in regard to four main points: How the Shrine was Built (1954), The Exile Years (1954-1965), The "Divine Love" Years (1965-1979), and The Last 25 Years (1979-2004). In terms of the meaning of the Exile Shrine, Michael spoke of it as a Marian Shrine for the local Church, a Schoenstatt Shrine for the United States Schoenstatt Family, and an Extraordinary Schoenstatt Shrine for the International Schoenstatt Family.

The second speaker, Sr. M. Petra Schnuerer, a member of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary and former secretary to Father Kentenich, presented the pilgrims with "The Importance of the Exile Shrine for Father Kentenich and the Schoenstatt Family." In the talk, Sr. Petra helped pilgrims to understand the Exile Shrine’s Significance for Father, and the Fruitfulness of the Exile Shrine. Encouraging the audience to take the words of Father as their own for the present day, she quoted Father’s farewell speech in the Exile Shrine as he prepared to return to Rome on September 15, 1965, "Let us be happy! Let us be grateful that God has brought us together, that we tried to discover his wishes, his intentions, and to act accordingly, and to commit ourselves to the goal of Ascende superius. Always higher and higher until God has accomplished that goal he has had in mind for us from all eternity…and therefore, I think I should conclude by repeating once more, my dear Schoenstatt families!" Both speakers received standing ovations and requests for photos for their fine presentations. Then, it was down the hill to the International Center for lunch.

A tour of home shrines

Before long, the bright yellow school buses were lined up along the drive, ready to take groups of pilgrims to any one of the approximately 20 local homeshrines prepared for their visit. The afternoon was spent reveling in the atmosphere of the homeshrines and listening to the stories of the families who had dedicated them. A guest who knew Father Kentenich during the Exile was present at each homeshrine, adding to the awesome ambiance. What a wonderful, inspiring time it was!

Too soon it was time to re-board the buses and travel back to the International Schoenstatt Center for Holy Mass, celebrated concurrently in English (in the tent), Spanish (in the chapel of the Provincial House of the Schoenstatt Sisters), and German (in the St. Michael Chapel of the Father House).

At the English Mass, celebrated by Father Hector Vega and concelebrated by Father Dieter Haas and Fr. Mark Niehaus, the pilgrims were reminded that our Father and Founder calls us to be the chosen people, a holy nation, as in the Old Testament times.

"But the family [as a holy nation] did not and will not happen overnight," said Father Vega, "it will take the contributions to the Capital of Grace of all of us."

Why the German delegation shortened the night prayer

A hearty dinner fortified the already high spirits of the Schoenstatt Family and paved the way for an evening of fun and excitement. Delegates of each of the countries demonstrated a form of entertainment representative of their native country. Many of the participants wore the traditional dress of their countries, adding to the color and exhilaration of the summer night. The tent was filled to overflowing with singing, dancing, laughing, DVD and Power Point presentations, and gifts. The joyous festivities continued so late into the night that the German delegation prudently shortened the Evening Praise to a brief but heartfelt night prayer and a blessing from all of the Schoenstatt Fathers at once!

How Father Kentenich cared for a young seminarian

At just half past nine o’clock on this cheerful morning, four yellow school buses filled with excited Schoenstatt Family pulled into the parking lot of Grant Park in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With eyes glowing with anticipation, the pilgrims stepped off the buses and onto the exact area of the lovely lakeside park in which Father Kentenich had picnicked with visitors.

Soon a sea of movement members was listening to Schoenstatt Father Andreas Brath of Germany, as he related stories of his time in Milwaukee with Father. As a seminarian in 1961, Father Brath came to Milwaukee to study under the direction of Father Kentenich. He told the pilgrims about how, upon his arrival, Father had cared for him as only a true father could, even to the point of having him take a nap after his long travels to Milwaukee.

He also told of his privilege of being the very first visitor to the newly purchased Movement House (across Wisconsin Avenue from the Exile Shrine) where the Sisters of Mary lived and where international guests stayed throughout the Exile Years – until the International Center in Waukesha was built. Father Brath brought the pilgrims back to that moment at the Movement House:

Father Kentenich had gone up on the porch of the house and while looking down at his visitor remembered at time when he was five or six years old and was playing with some other children. Father recounted that he told the children, "You all listen to me. Once I have grown up, then I will be a priest and at that time, I will give sermons. I know already what I will say. In the beginning, I will start with ‘my dear pious listeners,’ and I will end it in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. I know the beginning and the end, but all that comes in the middle, I still have to learn."

Lake Michigan: skipping stones like Father Kentenich did

Next, the pilgrims took the steep forest-like path down to the shore of Lake Michigan in order to stand in the place Father had stood. It is impossible to be on the shore where he admired God’s work of creation without also trying one’s luck at "skipping stones" across the top of the water as he had done. The mixture of the gushing waves, lively conversation, guitar music and singing made it sound as if the entire shore was laughing with glee!

Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan: "I love Schoenstatt"

A North American-style barbeque lunch was served under the canopy of trees after which it was time to again board the buses for the long awaited destination of the Exile Shrine and Holy Mass with Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

The grounds – especially the Exile Shrine itself – were festively decorated letting all who passed on Wisconsin Avenue that something very important was happening.

In the Exile Shrine before Mass, Father Gerold Langsch, superior of the United States delegation of the Schoenstatt Fathers presented the Archbishop with a pectoral Unity Cross, which absolutely delighted him. Showing it off to those gathered, he expressed his deep gratitude and said, "Now I am with you more than ever."

For the second time during this four-day encounter, a colorful procession made its way past the shrine and toward the huge white tent – this time on the grounds near the Exile Shrine – filled with chairs and bleachers. The procession included seventeen priests, among them Archbishop Dolan, the Provincial Superior of the Pallotine Fathers and Brothers in Milwaukee, Father Leaon Martin, SAC; the pastor of St. Vincent Palloti Parish, Father Joe Koyickal, SAC; Father Heinrich Walter, General Superior of the Schoenstatt Fathers; Father Gerold Langsch, Regional Superior of the Schoenstatt Fathers and others representing Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Germany, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

The tri-lingual Mass was an unforgettable experience. With the almost 500 international pilgrims and the members of the local Schoenstatt Family who came to join in the celebration, the crowd numbered nearly 800 persons. During Father Langsch’s welcoming address, Archbishop Dolan again thanked the Schoenstatt Family for the pectoral Unity Cross, explaining that he had specifically requested this cross when asked what gift he would like most to receive. "How long I’ve admired this cross, with our Lord’s blood flowing into the chalice of his mother," he said. "Now you are literally close to my heart. In his homily, the Archbishop told the Schoenstatt Family that they are a gift and source of inspiration to the Church. He repeated what he has so often said, "I love Schoenstatt. I often visit the Shrine and I love visiting the Shrine. But, as much and I praise you, and thank God for you, I’m still trying to find your secret!"

A shrine right in the heart of the city

Archbishop Dolan expressed that, in his search to become acquainted with Father Kentenich and Schoenstatt’s pedagogy, he thinks that the secret of Schoenstatt is the Incarnation. "You are a people who believe in the Incarnation, in Emmanuel, God with us. That’s the mystery of our faith – the Trinity and the Incarnation – and that’s the mystery of Schoenstatt." In extrapolating upon the practical implications of that mystery, the Archbishop said, "That’s why families gather around the Mother Thrice Admirable every evening. That’s why we have that [shrine], not in the desert, but right in the heart of Milwaukee. Why? Because God is with us, smack dab in the middle of life."

Following Holy Mass, pilgrims were divided into groups and accompanied local Schoenstatt Family on a guided tours of the Exile places – Father’s two offices where Father worked diligently on his writings and homilies and met with visitors; Calvary Cemetery where Father took his twice-daily walks (in every kind of weather and up to the cemetery chapel high, high on the steep hill); inside St. Vincenet Pallotti Church (formerly Holy Cross Church), where Father prayed and celebrated the 50th Jubilee of his priesthood; and the Movement House.

Evening Praise was held later on in the tent amidst a refreshing summer breeze. Afterwards, the International Schoenstatt Family received a little gift from Father – the famous Shrine cookies and a Shrine cookie cutter with recipes in English, Spanish, and German so that they may spread Father’s tradition of distributing Shrine cookies to all who came to see him!

The Mission of the Exile Shrine for the Post-Conciliar Church

The final day started with a talk given by Schoenstatt Father Jonathan Niehaus of the United States. Father Niehaus was ordained in 1994, is the Moderator of the USA Boys Youth and has written and translated numerous books for the Schoenstatt Movement. In his talk, which included audio recordings of Father Kentenich speaking on the topic and entitiled "Our Gift-in-Return to the Church; The Mission of the Exile Shrine for the Post-Conciliar Church," Father Niehaus uncovered the critical message of the Exile for the Schoenstatt Family and Church worldwide. He used five aspects: Why We Love the Church, Point of Reference: The Post-Vatican II Church, What is Schoenstatt’s Contribution to the Post-Conciliar "Day"?, The Exile as Model for the Church to Come, and With Mary into the Newest Times.

"Dear MTA," he said, "let our gift to the Church – a resounding song of gratitude for all the treasures of the exile and our dear Exile Shrine be no less than this: that the covenant of love with you span the whole globe and penetrate each heart. Then the great vision of our founder (spoken on December 31, 1965) will become reality for the Church he loved, leading it from victory to victory on the newest shore of the times:

‘We believe we have been called to be the heart of this Church. Which Church? The Church of the years to come.’"

After a standing ovation and hearty congratulations for Father Niehaus, it was time to prepare for Holy Mass – held for the last time in the huge white tent in the shadow of the International Shrine of the Father Kingdom at the International Schoenstatt Center.

"We have discovered the wealth of the Exile time"

The main celebrant was Father Heinrich Walter, General Superior of the Schoenstatt Fathers; the concelebrants were Schoenstatt Fathers Guillermo Carmona of Argentina and Jesus Castro of Dominican Republic.

In his homily, Father Heinrich expressed heartfelt thanks from the pilgrims to the local Schoenstatt Family, the coordinators of the jubilee, the USA Schoenstatt Fathers and especially the Schoenstatt Sisters on whose property the encounter took place.

"No one would have dared dream that we would gather here from all parts of the world with such gratitude and joy," he said. "More and more, we from abroad have discovered the wealth of the Exile time. Whoever has not been to Milwaukee has deprived him or herself of an important part of our Schoenstatt heritage."

The finale of the jubilee celebration was a sending out ceremony held at the life-sized statue of Father Kentenich near the shrine. As the International Schoenstatt Family held hands in a circle around their Father and Founder, they sang to our Mother, Queen, and Victress simultaneously in English, Spanish, and German. During a silent pause between prayers, an audio recording of a familiar voice speaking a loving blessing suddenly and softly met their ears – it was Father! With joy and gladness, the surprised pilgrims crossed themselves as Father blessed them as he had blessed his Schoenstatt children countless times during the Exile.

Then it was time to walk down to the International Center for lunch – the last meal together for this multi-cultural group of Father’s children. But before they left their Father and Founder, he had one last gift for them – postcards and medals for the adults and small, hand-painted wooden Shrines for the children. And so Schoenstatt Family-Milwaukee’04 concluded truly in the spirit of Father Kentenich whose hands are never empty of gifts for his beloved children.

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