"Tomorrow I will wait for you in the Shrine"
Conquering the Shrine of Montevideo - Memories of the Crusade for Mary 2006
URUGUAY, Federico Ferreira, Along with the thousands of stars that have been in the manger at Schoenstatt since December 24, one of them read: "For the Shrine of Montevideo". It is a strong desire that moves all the Schoenstatt Family of Montevideo, Uruguay, the country of origin of the first daughter Shrine of the world. Conquer the Shrine of Montevideo!" proclaimed a group of youth, who extended an invitation on the first day 2007 for the "Crusade of Mary Uruguay 2007, to conquer our Shrine!". But before organizing this new crusade, they want to share their experiences of the walk they completed some months ago as a "madness of love for Mary".
The story of the Crusade of Mary Uruguay 2006 began on a Saturday morning at the bus terminal of Tres Cruces, Montevideo (Uruguay). Seven youth met at the bus terminal at 5:15 in the morning, and despite having very little sleep, the youth were prepared to walk 75 km. The Blessed Mother was asking for this sacrifice, and they were willing to make the trek. The truth is that they thought the walk would be rather easy, with very little physical pain involve…fortunately they were mistaken!
Te term "fortunately they were mistaken", was included because there is nothing better than experiencing pain before a "victory". It is like a sport, pain, and sacrifice must be made in order to become a champion. Surely the sports fanatics understand this. Or in the case of studying, there are afternoons when one can not go on any longer and nights without going out with friends. In the end, an excellent grade is the reward.
Time to talk, plan, pray, sing and to joke
Back to the story, the youth arrived in the town of Libertad on Saturday morning. There we were welcome by the pastor of the church. It was a typical church of a town in the interior of the country, and it was located in front of the main square. The youth participated in a very inspiring Mass, then, they left for their destination, Nueva Helvecia, making a stop in Ecilda Paullier to spend the night.
Everyone started off with impressive energy, with thoughts of spending the weekend walking along with the Blessed Mother and her Son. The road was long, but there would be time to converse, to plan future activities, to pray, to joke, and to sing. Basically there was time for everything!
As the day passed, the legs of the young people were getting tired. Blisters had developed, making it was difficult to maintain the rhythm, still they had to make the effort. The Blessed Mother deserves much more than the pain of blisters, the hardships, the sunburn, the muscular pain and much more. Everyone had the motivation to go on, not just to go on; rather to walk each step for Mary. This made it impossible for the pain to prevent them from continuing to walk. Everyone shared the same motivation … the joy of knowing they were accompanied by the others and by Mary, herself.
An injection of encouragement
During the afternoon, an injection of encouragement came from Ceci, a member of the Girls' Youth who arrived with much energy for those of us who were already weary from the journey. It was a fundamental incorporation for the team of pilgrims.
The afternoon passed, the sun went down, but the destination was still far away. Finally in the darkness of the night, the youth reached Ecilda Paullier. They walked toward the parish where we were going to stay and found the first gift from the Blessed Mother. Her icon was in the wayside shrine. What a reward! After so much walking, they encountered the Blessed Mother and felt she appreciated the walk we had made, and in some way she was telling us: "Tomorrow I will wait for you in the Shrine".
The following morning they arose very early, in spite of the pain, the blisters, and the weariness. After breakfast and a celebration of the Word to recharge the energy of the soul, the youth departed. They had a shorter way to travel than the day before. The weariness was greater, but the desire to arrive remained intact, as if the Blessed Mother, herself was holding them in her lap.
Just a few kilometers more, just one more step
A few kilometers before reaching the entrance of Nueva Helvecia, several missionaries of the rosary campaign arrived to support the group. They brought flags from the Shrine and of the Blessed Mother, and, using the loudspeaker and shouting, they encouraged the group. The support of the ladies was essential for the youth to continue walking.
After a few more kilometers, more people joined them, including several of the girls from the Girls' Youth and youth from Montevideo who wanted to have an encounter with Her. At that moment, there were several of pilgrims who felt they could not go any further, but the arrival of the other youth gave them the impetus to continue walking. Especially encouraging was a song they prepared for the pilgrimage.
Then the youth saw a sign that indicated it was 6 km. to the Shrine. They all felt like running - and surely if they had been in the appropriate condition they would have done it - they were all very anxious to arrive, to embrace the Shrine.
As the youth got closer, the desire to arrive was noticeable. There was much singing, much joy. Encountering another wayside shrine of the Blessed Mother also recharged their batteries. They stopped to sing to her, to pray and to continue with the trip. At this point, the weariness was a giant they carried on their shoulders. They were very blistered, sunburned, dying of thirst, but they also could sense the voice of the Blessed Mother that echoed from the Shrine, and since they were so close, they could not give up. It was only a few kilometers more. Then it was just one more step.
500 meters from the Shrine
A little later, the youth saw a sign indicating the Shrine was just 500 meters away. That was nothing! Of course, they had to take a photo with the sign and then faced the final goal! A few blocks away they encountered Sister Fiorella, who was waiting to encourage the youth, who could now see the point of the Shrine!
The last half block they all ran. The pain, the weariness, the blisters, none of that mattered. It was the moment of encounter. Nothing could hold them back. SHE WAS THERE. They ran! We did not think about anything else. Finally they were inside the Shrine, and there was much emotion, it was something unforgettable…after 89 km. they had arrived!! Winning the World Cup couldn't compare with the sensation of arriving at the Shrine after all that walking! It was impressive! To enter and to encounter the Blessed Mother and Jesus, who were present here! Without words! To smell that special aroma of the Shrine! It was impressive! They all felt at home.
It was a unique experience, one the youth hope will be repeated next year. The idea is to complete the walk again, but with the number people increasing to the number of kilometers covered. The invitation is open to others to participate!
The young people who completed the pilgrimage are grateful to everyone who supported then with prayers and to those who were united spiritually with them, indicating the prayers were felt at every step and certain it would have been impossible to accomplish such a feat without their help. Each message sent sustained them and gave them energy during the difficult times of the journey.
They wait for the Crusade of Mary Uruguay 2007, to conquer our Shrine!!!
Translation: Celina M Garza, Harlingen / Judy Harlowe, Milwaukee, USA