Born for Service to the Church
The Centennial of John Pozzobon on December 12, 2004, was a great motivation to remember the life and mission of this follower of the Founder
INTERNATIONAL, mca/mkf. "I didn’t know much about Pozzobon. I had heard about him once or twice since I’ve been in Schoenstatt and with the Pilgrim MTA, but "he did not interest me," said Gerd Freisberg. "That is, until one day in Santa Maria at the Congress of John Pozzobon’s centennial celebration. I was dead tired and the temperature was 40°C (104°F) in the shade. People who had met him gave testimonies. It was then that I suddenly awakened. I sat up straight and I realized, this is a saint! Suddenly it was clear to me: This is a saint! A saint had begun the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign. Then everything was clear. I have seen others carrying the big Pilgrim MTA’s, like the one John Pozzobon carried. At the end of the Congress, people took these Auxiliaries home, and I thought, why don’t we have one in Germany? I don’t know what happened, but we asked for one, and we brought back our Auxiliary for Germany. It was blessed and commissioned on September 8th. Coincidence? Some months earlier, Gerd Freisberg had worked in house Marienau, and the Pilgrim MTA, that was given to Father Kentenich by John Pozzobon…is right there.
On December 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas, John Pozzobon's centennial was celebrated in Miami, Zagreb, Asuncion, Tucuman, Schoenstatt, Santa Cruz de la Sierra... Pozzobon, a "simple and loyal person, in solidarity with the poor, a valiant apostle of Mary, and a model of Schoenstatt holiness," was a layman, and father of seven children. In 1950, he began to take the MTA to families and to pray the rosary with them. This was the simple, inconspicuous beginning of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign that is presently in more than 90 countries of the world. Children and old people, prisoners and bishops work as missionaries (coordinators). A stream of life and grace were created, born for the service of the church of today.
Coincidence? While Gerd Freisberg, participated with the German delegation in the congress in Santa Maria, "Father’s Pilgrim MTA", as many love to call her, was present at the dedication of the Mother of the Church Shrine in Belmonte, Rome, placing Schoenstatt at the service of the church: this is what John Pozzobon wanted to do through the Rosary Campaign, so simple and small that everyone can participate.
While major things are important, such as - the appointment of Schoenstatt priests and fathers as bishops, leading roles of Schoenstatt people in different areas of the social and political life, successful initiatives that cross the borders of the Schoenstatt family - the renewal of the church often begins with quite small, simple and effective things. These simple, seemingly meaningless things – taking a Pilgrim MTA somewhere, the conversion of an inmate, a prayer that works a miracle, a rosary in the parish – are steps leading to what we experience today as a tremendous expansion of Schoenstatt thanks to the Rosary Campaign. "How often in world history have not small and insignificant beginnings been the source of great and even the greatest accomplishments?" " asks Father Kentenich in the Founding Document. It reminds us of Mary, the simple maiden of Nazareth on whose lowliness God looks upon and whom all people praise as queen and Immaculata, exactly on December 8th, the day when John Pozzobon renewed his commitment every year.
An inbreak of grace meant to bring the stream of life from Schoenstatt to the widest circles of people
"God has given us in the person of John Luis Pozzobon a simple childlike, heroic person, in solidarity with the poor, a valiant apostle of Mary and a model of Schoenstatt holiness. Mary educated him in her Shrine to a high degree in the spirit of heroic childlikeness which marked his whole life. He was a person of an unusually deep spirit of prayer and contemplation, marked by his affectionate love for his mother and queen and he was notably devoted to the Eucharist and Trinity. At the same time he was an exemplary husband and father, a just man. He did not neglect his duties in the family because of his intensive apostolate. His intimate covenant of love with Mary made him an example of everyday sanctity," said the Consensus Document of Santa Maria in 1989, compiled a few years after the death of John Pozzobon and at the beginning of the expansion of the international Rosary Campaign. This had already begun to mark Schoenstatt and the ecclesiastical reality of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile. Schoenstatt Fathers and Sisters in charge of the Movement from these countries gathered in Santa Maria with the lay persons who lead the Rosary Campaign to study the person and work of John Pozzobon. They stressed, "The person of John Pozzobon is an example with marked traits which are unique to the embodiment of Schoenstatt ideals and it is for the Campaign itself a model of what it wants to accomplish and assure and it is a guarantee of fidelity to the original forces from which it has emerged." (SM89, I1)
"All doors open to receive her"
It is the guarantee of fidelity to the original forces, it is the intuition of the grace of the beginning, or the origin –that the church celebrates in the Immaculata – that makes people involuntarily search for a closeness to John Pozzobon and the reason for the great number of centennial celebrations in thanksgiving forhis person and his apostolate.
"The Rosary Campaign invites all coordinators, pilgrims, and the whole Schoenstatt family to the Centennial Celebration of John Pozzobon on Sunday, December 12th, ," read the newsletter of the Schoenstatt family of Paraguay. "Beginning at 8:30am, with the Rosary, Mass at 9:00, then talks, projects and artistic performances." On December 11th, there was Mass in the Cathedral of Sé, Sao Paulo, Brazil. On the 12th, the centennial was celebrated in many other places in Brazil. There were no weekends in the whole year without centennial celebrations. In Miami there was a celebration in the area of the future shrine. In Croatia the 1,000th pilgrim MTA was sent out on December 8th.
Posters were hung throughout Schoenstatt in Germany several weeks before December 12th, to announce the Mass in the Adoration Church, a presentation in the Father Kentenich House on the life and work of John Pozzobon, and the International Rosary in the Original Shrine.
It was the celebration of the "little donkey of the MTA," but in reality, it was the celebration of the Blessed Mother, the great missionary of the Rosary Campaign who wants to reach out to the people. It is exactly how the church, as a simple pilgrim church, reaches out to people in humility, just as Jesus did 2,000 years ago, so that the world may love God and not only be impressed by him.
"All doors open to receive them," writes John Pozzobon. "All hearts open, rich or poor, wise or uneducated; the doors of the schools, hospitals, and prisons open." Some weeks ago, a student from Ecuador fearfully took, the Pilgrim MTA to her university. A little bit shyly, but resolutely, she placed it in the auditorium on the table near her. The professor entered, glanced around the room, and to the terror of the student, asked, "To whom does this image belong?" "It is mine," she answered hesitantly. "Why did you to put it there?" he asked.. "This is no place for it; you placed it right in the front as if belonged here. I also receive her every month, and it would never occur to me to just put her anywhere, she gets always the place of a queen!"
The dedication of "The Shrine of all of us" and the 100th of John Pozzobon
On one of the walls in the room of John Pozzobon’s house, which is now a museum, hangs a large picture of Pope John Paul II. Underneath there is an inscription written by John Pozzobon, "Every day I unite with him." Everyone is aware of the strong attachment John Pozzobon had with the church, the pope, bishops and priests, he prayed and offered contributions to the capital of grace for them every day.
Before he started the Rosary Campaign in a town, he always requested the permission of the local priest; he also sent annual reports to his bishop on all the activities of the Campaign, the number schools, teachers, pupils, and homes that were visited.. The local bishop received details of everything he had done in the Campaign during the course of the year.
"All the work of John Luis Pozzobon and the Rosary Campaign had a purpose in the service of renewal of the church and of society. John Pozzobon had a historical point of view. He showed his service to the church in proven loyalty to the bishops. He showed childlike readiness towards the priests, whose permissions were granted and who cooperated with the Rosary Campaign. In his own parish, and in numerous chapels he proved before and after his Ordination as deacon, this humble readiness. Thus, the campaign could become the "extended arm of the priest". Because of its simplicity the Rosary Campaign brings many priests to Schoenstatt," according to the consensus document of 1989.
"Often I recall the Vigil on September 7th, at the moment when the MTA picture for the Shrine fell down, and immediately the international Auxiliary and the Pilgrim MTA were there," writes a coordinator, who has been active in the Rosary Campaign since its beginning and who knew John Pozzobon personally. "The spontaneous gesture of the coordinators who raised their Pilgrim MTA’s, the considerations of the priests and a lot of participants afterwards: all that appears to me as a clear message: the MTA wants to be with her people on pilgrimage, like the pilgrim church which goes out without preconditions to her children. She simply wants to bring them consolation, help, and joy. She is not a "static" Mother, but one that accompanies us in every way, even if we do not ask.. She wants to meet us in an simple manner, by visiting us two or three days in our home where the real change occurs, where the covenant of love becomes firm, almost before we notice it; we know and feel that we cannot do anything without her, but we can do everything with her; where our home becomes a Shrine in which she transforms us, and sends us out as instruments.
I no longer doubt that the dedication of the Shrine in Belmonte, lit a fire in the hearts of everyone. It seemed as if everyone wanted to seize the torch once more, and to take Schoenstatt to the widest circles of the world. I believe many will discover that the Rosary Campaign is to an excellent torch bearer for Schoenstatt, because of its width, its depth, and its universality, the Blessed Mother can respond to the thousands of questions and challenges of today's world.
I believe that the Rosary Campaign and the Shrine in Belmonte can be mututally complementary and enriching. The campaign can draw from this shrine the strength and grace to carry the message to the world and to return to it with full jars. It is like the visible face of May 31st, expressed in both streams of grace, the Shrine in Belmonte and the Campaign, which are in the deepest sense one: Schoenstatt for the church.
As many have said, God may wish that in Schoenstatt many small John Pozzobons become loyal instruments of the father and founder, and that as his allies they will pull the triumphal carriage of the MTA to the church. Whoever discovers this treasure in the field, is ready to sell everything to gain it – no more and no less than the apostolate of the Father."
"May the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign create a spiritual blossoming of the Schoenstatt work for the benefit of the holy church." (Dedication prayer of John Pozzobon on December 8th, 1983).
Translation: Beth Rockers/Paula Dudgeon, MN, USA – Celina M Garza, Harlingen, Texas, USA
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