The Great Day Arrived: Mary Takes Possession of Her City Shrine
Blessing of the City Shrine of Quito, Ecuador, June 18, 2005
ECUADOR, Fr. Rafael Amaya/ams. The Schoenstatt family of Ecuador experienced a great festivity of God’s grace as it was blessed with a new holy place. With joy it has received a City Shrine located on the slope of the volcano Pichincha, an enviable location in the city of Quito. The 18th of October was repeated on the 18th of June for that city…and perhaps even further afield. As it happens in all families, when in Schoenstatt or in any other place in the world a new shrine is "born", the whole family rejoices, and –as a young woman commented on the day of the blessing of the Shrine in Hungary—the Blessed Mother opens wide her arms in each Shrine throughout the World!
The great desire of the Schoenstatt Family in Quito has become a reality. The new Shrine which is almost 3000 meters high and "hanging" from the Pichincha Volcano, a thoroughfare toward the recently inauguarated cable car, has now become part of the famous landscape of that beautiful city which includes the great image of the winged Virgin of Quito in the Panecillo and the imposing National Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These are also visible from the place where our Mother Mary has established herself.
The previous days were emotional days as the various symbols of the Shrine would arrive and be installed. They represent the ancient Catholic tradition and the art from the School of Art in Quito: the polychromed carvings of the Father Eye Symbol, the apostles Peter and Paul, the Archangel St. Michael, and the altar carved in San Antonio de Ibarra. The stained-glass windows symbolize the love and the faith of the people from Quito: on one side the white lily which represents St. Mary Anne, the lily of Quito, and on the other side the Apocolyptic Virgin better known as the Virgin of Quito or of Legarda. Likewise, the past, present, and future of Schoenstatt in Ecuador are found reflected on the stained-glass windows on the sides of the altar: on one side are the hands of Father Kentenich with a paten and a palm leaf which represent the consecration of the Family of Ecuador to Father Kentenich and the Shrine of Guayaquil, and on the other side is a crown which represents the most beautiful Shrine of Alangasi-Quito.
A Step of Confidence in God
This dream finally became a reality thanks to the leadership of Fr. Ricardo and the members of the Joseph Kentenich Foundation who led the Family to take a step of confidence in God. Together they directed all of the necessary contributions for this work. They also counted on the support and backing of the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers, specifically through the direction and presence of Fr. Mariano, Provincial Superior of the Pentecost Province who made the presence and accompaniment of the Fathers very tangible.
In the Mass of blessing the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers was represented by Fr. Sydney who traveled from Bogotá to participate in this festivity. Fr. José Luis (who works in Antofagasta) and Fr. Mariano came from Chile. Fathers Rodrigo and Rafael were from Quito and from Guayaquil came Fr. Eduardo, Fr. Humberto and José Tomás Pérez who contributed greatly with the choir and the atmosphere.
To Teach Others to Love Mary
Between 300 and 400 persons attended this blessed event and about 100 came from Guayaquil. Also attending were members of the Family Federation from Chile, representatives from Colombia and the last but not least presence of Sarita Ycaza who brought along the contributions to the Treasury of Grace from Miami.
The main celebrant was the Bishop of Quito, Bishop Raúl Vela. Concelebrating also with the members of the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers were priest friends and Fr. Hugo Vázquez of the Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests
The Bishop’s homily which was delivered with much affection and friendliness was centered on Mary and Schoenstatt’s contribution to the community. He expressed that the Schoenstatters there not only wanted to educate the youth but wanted to lead them to their Mother for which they have built this Shrine…a symbol of commitment for many and a sign of responsibility to the Church. He also affirmed that Father Joseph Kentenich taught his children to love Mary which is something they have learned well and furthermore are growing and teaching others to love Mary.
The Shrine Now Has a Landlord
The entrance of the picture of the Blessed Mother into the Shrine was without a doubt a deeply moving moment. Sr. Monserrat and Sr. Leticia, Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary who work in the city of Quito, were in charge of taking our Blessed Mother to her place of honor. They were accompanied by a court of honor which was made up of the little apostles of Mary who like the Blessed Mother want to take Christ to the community. The court of honor also included members of the Foundation who symbolize the instrumentality of men when they are attentive to the Divine Will and Ernesto Ribadeneira and María Fernanda Valdivieso, two persons whose lives are a great example to all. Slowly the picture traveled a path which was filled with rose petals—worthy of our Mother—and many bells were ringing announcing to the whole world that the Shrine now has a Landlord and She was inviting all of her children to come to visit her. Finally the picture was enthroned on the altar by two young men from the Boys’ Youth, Ignacio Cordero and Jorge Salgado, expressing the boldness and new life which wants to be part of this new Shrine.
Later a cantata was performed by the ballet Jachigua and refreshments were served in a family-like atmosphere.
It was a beautiful encounter with so many pilgrims from Chile, Colombia, and from different places in Ecuador. The family in Ecuador is growing and is allowing itself to be led by the spirit of Christ. It will be a great contribution to the local Church.
Every Sunday the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated there so that Christ may be glorified from this place. Surely many pilgrims will come searching for "something" which points to the future task: to offer them that place which our Father and Founder dreamed of, a place where "the love for the Blessed Trinity is proclaimed."
A Sister once heard our Father say that we Schoenstatters have so much faith that we can build a Shrine on the slopes of Vesuvius. That is how it is. His Schoenstatt Family has so much faith that it built Mary a throne of grace on the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano from where she blesses the city, Ecuador, and the World.
To know more about the new Shrine, visit the website: www.schoenstatt.ec
Contributed by Sr. María Emilia Loor
Translation: Carlos Cantu, LaFeria, TX, USA
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