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 published: 2008-09-02

Africa on the Rhine

Seven seminarians of the Schoenstatt Fathers from Nigeria in Schoenstatt were ordained Deacons through the hands of Auxiliary Bishop Franz Grave, of Essen, Germany

 

Diakonatsweihe von sieben Studenten der Schönstatt-Patres aus Nigeria in der Anbetungskirche

Ordenación diaconal de siete seminaristas de los Padres de Schoenstatt de Nigeria, en la Iglesia de la Adoración

Deacons’ ordination of seven seminarians of the Schoenstatt Fathers from Nigeria, in the Adoration Church

Diakonatsweihe von sieben Studenten der Schönstatt-Patres aus Nigeria in der Anbetungskirche

 

 

Einzug

 

Procesión de entrada

Entrance procession

Einzug

 

Nigerianische Schwestern gestalteten die Feier musikalisch mit

 

Coro de Hermanas nigerianas

Nigerian Sisters form the choir

Nigerianische Schwestern gestalteten die Feier musikalisch mit

 

Ich bin bereit

 

Aquí estoy...

Here I am...

Ich bin bereit

 

Die sieben neuen Diakone

 

Los siete nuevo di áconos

The seven new deacons

Die sieben neuen Diakone

 

Weihbischof Dr. Franz Grave (l), Bischof Miguel Ángel Sebastián

 

Mons. Franz Grave (izq), Mons. Miguel Ángel Sebastián

Auxiliary Bishop Fran Grave (l.), Bishop Miguel Ángel Sebasti án

Weihbischof Dr. Franz Grave (l), Bischof Miguel Ángel Sebastián

P. Pablo Pol mit Diakonen und Patres aus Nigeria

 

El P. Pablo Pol, Argentina, con Padres y diáconos de Nigeria

Fr. Pablo Pol with deacons and Schoenstatt Fathers from Nigeria

P. Pablo Pol mit Diakonen und Patres aus Nigeria

Fotos: K. Fischer © 2008

Álbum de fotos

 

 

 

 

SCHOENSTATT, mkf. The procession of priests seemed endless as it entered the Adoration Church to the tone of drums, clapping hands, and chants in Ibo performed joyfully by Sisters in white and turquoise habits. A veritable rainbow of skin color could be seen in that solemn and jubilant procession, as priests from Germany, Eastern Europe, Portugal, South America, India, and Africa accompanied the seven young Nigerians, who an hour later would be ordained deacons, offering their lives for the Church and the Schoenstatt Movement, after growing up in their Nigerian homes for several years.

Auxiliary Bishop Franz Grave, of the diocese of Essen, Germany, was the main celebrant and ordained the young men. Spanish Bishop Miguel Angel Sebastián from the diocese of Laï, Chad, Nigeria’s eastern neighbor state, in whose diocese some young Federation Priests long to spread Schoenstatt even more, accompanied him. Bishop Sebastian, 57, is a Comboni Missionary, who has lived in Chad for thirty-one years; while on his present visit to Spain, he decided to join the deacons’ ordination of the seven Nigerians.

The liturgy unfolds in English, with some readings, songs, and explanations given in German for those in the congregation who do not understand English. The decision by the Nigerians to have their ordination in Schoenstatt was made in spite of the fact that their relatives and friends would not be able to come – and that they maybe would have to celebrate in a half-empty church. The latter fear did not come true: Africans from all parts of Germany filled the Adoration Church, together with many members of the local Schoenstatt Family – with a considerable share of Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary -, and others who had travelled from wide and far to participate. A lady who lives an hour from Schoenstatt shared: "This morning I did not feel well and could not go to church; I switched on my pc, and saw the article about the ordination of the seven Nigerians, and when I felt better around noon, I decided to come. It was worth while, the joy that they radiate is really contagious!"

I am here

Fr. Heinrich Walter, Superior General of the Schoenstatt Fathers, welcomed the two bishops in English, German, and Spanish. The seven young men stood in line in front of the altar, in their white liturgical dresses, all at attention, all in anticipation, all in readiness – and all joy. They show the biggest smiles seen at such a solemn moment long ago…

Youth from Congo – all born in Germany – accompany the procession with the Gospel with a typical African dance of praise. They come from a parish in Germany, where one of the Nigerian Schoenstatt Fathers is working right now.

After the readings – in English and German – Father Fred Kistler, rector of the seminary in Ibadan, Nigeria, presents the candidates. The bishop called each one by name and with loud, firm voices, Reginald Amanze, Magnus Ifedikwa, Paul Nwachukwu, Justin Obuka, Donatus Odibo, Valentine Okafar und Claudius Uwaoma stepped forward and proclaimed: "I am here."

In his sermon, Bishop Grave, starting from the text of the gospel that they had chosen: the wine and the branches (John 15, 1- 17), advised them to remain in unity, in closeness with Jesus; if the connection of the branches with the wine is interrupted, the grapes dry up and fall to the ground; if the connections of the disciples with Jesus, if especially the connection of his deacons and priests with Jesus is getting loose or interrupted, they cannot bear fruit and the Church dries up…

Only those who are convinced themselves, can convince others, he says – urging them to help spread joy and optimism in the church. You are called to proclaim the truth of the existence of God in your lives and the joy of being his friends.

It seemed as if the soon-to-be deacons could not wait to begin doing so!

The rite of ordination unfolds as usual, with these moving moments of commitment and promises, of surrender and grace. The prostration, the laying on of hands, the prayers, and the investiture with stole and Dalmatic, the presentation of the Book of Gospels – a 2,000-year-old stream of grace fills this holy moment in the Adoration Church. A stream of grace that has shaped a universal church out of all races and nations in the discipleship of Jesus who chooses human instruments to the ministry of the sacraments for the sanctification of the people of God.

After the Kiss of Peace, joy broke through in applause, embraces and dance...

Who cared that in the wave of joy, the Offertory began before the prayer of the Faithful? For now the deacons served at the altar for the first time, and later to the joy of all, gave the Holy Communion to the Faithful.

Before the final blessing, the new deacons renew the Covenant of Love with the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt, offering themselves for her mission from the Schoenstatt Shrine.

The party goes on ... on Mount Sion

Those who have celebrated the liturgy together should also socialize together – and so all were invited to go on celebrating in the Father House on Mont Zion. Like always at such festivities, the Schoenstatt Fathers opened their house wide for all the guests; the inner courtyard became the stage for dancing and singing: first just the young Congolese, later more and more Africans, and finally quite a number of South Americans and Germans, who joined the joyful crowd. Inside, it was a big family get-together, with coffee, cake and beverages, all guests mixed and mingled at the tables, talking, sharing, meeting, greeting, and congratulating the radiant new deacons…

"Are you only a son of your narrow century, a European at the shores of the River Rhine?" Rolando Cori had the youth ask Father Kentenich in his Centenary Cantata, Between Rhine and Andes, composed in 1985. Those who have participated in the celebration and the party of this hot Saturday in Schoenstatt know the answer. No. He has become Latin American, Indian, African … a Father and Prophet of the wide horizons of the universal church: "Our hearts belong to all people and nations, regardless of their name and history…" (Dec. 8., 1944)

Schoenstatt, an international family; it is good to experience moments like this, where you experience internationality and family in such a deep, genuine way.

Congratulations, Schoenstatt Nigeria!

English edition: amj, USA

 


 

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