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 published: 2009-01-21

"I give thanks to my God each time I think of you"

Paul: It was not by chance that Father Kentenich chose this alias in the concentration camp – January 20th in light of the Year of St. Paul


20. Januar: Heilige Messe der ganzen Schönstattfamilie in der Anbetungskirche

20 de enero: Misa de la familia de Schoenstatt en la Iglesia de la Adoración

20th January: Holy Mass of the Schoenstatt Family in the Adoration Church

20. Januar: Heilige Messe der ganzen Schönstattfamilie in der Anbetungskirche


Am frühen Morgen im Urheiligtum: P. Kuller und P. Matheus Bernardes (re.)

En la madrugada en el Santuario Original: el P. Kuller y el P. Matheus Bernardes (der.)

Morning Mass in the Original Shrine: Fr. Kuller and Fr. Matheus Bernardes (l.)

Am frühen Morgen im Urheiligtum: P. Kuller und P. Matheus Bernardes (li.)


Santa Misa, en unión con el Padre

Holy Mass, united with Father Kentenich

Heilige Messe in innerer Verbundenheit mit der Messe Pater Kentenichs am 20. Januar 1942Heilige Messe in innerer Verbundenheit mit der Messe Pater Kentenichs am 20. Januar 1942

Beeindruckender Einzug der Priester  

Entrada de los sacerdotes

Entrance procession of the priests

Beeindruckender Einzug der Priester

Familie des Vaters  

Familia del Padre

Family of the Father

Familie des Vaters

Mons. Dr. Peter Wolf  

Mons. Dr. Peter Wolf

Mons. Dr. Peter Wolf

Mons. Dr. Peter Wolf

Fotos: Cássio Leal/K. Fischer © 2009


SCHOENSTATT, mkf. "We are in the middle of the Year of St. Paul to which we have been invited to by the Holy Father. Many of us have accepted this invitation and we have disposed ourselves interiorly to pay more attention to St. Paul and to dialog with him. Some have already confirmed, during the first half of this Year of St. Paul, how often our Father and Father has referred to the school of St. Paul. This afternoon, I would like to invite you to become aware of, in the context of January 20th, how our Founder saw and understood the imprisonment of St. Paul," said Msgr. Peter Wolf when he began his homily in the Adoration Church on the afternoon of January 20th. Msgr. Wolf showed the many Schoenstatters present how the Letter to the Philippians was extremely intimate for Father Kentenich during his time in prison, and how, through this letter, he then said to his family: "I give thanks to my God each time I think of you." Something he continues repeating also today.

January 20th, axis of the history of Schoenstatt, is a day of festivity for the entire Schoenstatt Family. In his Covenant letter, Father Javier Arteaga writes about this day: "Fr. Joseph Kentenich wrote from the Gestapo prison in Koblenz in December of 1941: My chains are the price of the ransom for the shelter and freedom of the entire Family. Strive for a true taking root and freedom in God. But keep in mind that we are free for God according to the measure that we become free of ourselves, from self-will and personal desires. Father Kentenich had been imprisoned because of his strong opposition to the nazi regime which was an inhuman and demonic system; he and his Movement were dangerous for educating a type of person that would not submit obediently to the present ideology. At Christmas of 1941, he wrote: With all my heart, I gladly give to the Good God the loss of my liberty. I am ready to bear it in all the possible forms, even to the end of my life if with it I pay the price for you and the entire family’s long-lasting, holiness and fruitfulness until the end of time. .....You should never forget this: whoever loves the Family considers himself happy to be able to give everything for it. Days later, at dawn on January 20, 1942, while he celebrated Holy Mass in his cell, Fr. Kentenich decides not to sign the request for the medical review and offers his freedom for the interior freedom of his Family. In March, he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp where he remained imprisoned in subhuman conditions for three and one half years. It was the death leap into divine confidence: deeply united to Christ and following His example, he accepts the pain and the cross so that his followers would have life in abundance, his life for our life. With Christ, the Father Founder wants to fulfill the will of the Father God.

It is my Family

This deep and total experience of Father Kentenich’s Covenant of Love awakens in his children a great current of solidarity with him and a current of unity among the brothers and sisters. This solidarity clarified and deepened the family character of the Schoenstatt Movement. The 20th of January thus became the axis of the history of Schoenstatt with its fruits being:

  • the confirmation of the supernatural character of the Work: Family of God
  • the community of destinies between the Father Founder and the Family: Family of the Father
  • the solidarity of the destinies of the brothers and sisters among themselves: Family of brothers and sisters

This did not appear in the newspapers of the time, but it marked the lives of thousands of men and women from that era and this era."

A family moment in the early hours of January 20th in Schoenstatt

It is a very beautiful experience to be in Schoenstatt on that date, said Cassio Leal from JUMAS of Brazil, a volunteer at the pilgrims center. "A year ago, Fr. Matheus and I were in the Shrine at Jaraguá for the Covenant of Love with a group of Boys’ Youth. One year later, we are again together, but now in the Original Shrine… things happen, right? For Fr. Matheus it was the first time to celebrate Holy Mass in the Original Shrine. Six years ago, when he was last in Schoenstatt, he was still a seminarian….. Also for Cecilia Tre from the Girls’ Youth in Argentina. It was a special day after her first visit to the Original Shrine on the 18th, her first visit to Father’s tomb on the 19th, and now participating in the Mass for the Schoenstatt Family along with two friends from the Girls’ Youth in Germany and in the midst of a family Mass – as a family along with many priests: Schoenstatt Fathers and Priests from the Institute, Sisters of Mary, members of the Institutes and Federations; amidst a great family from all continents, amidst a great family which continues celebrating its being family around Father and at the end of Mass, the greeting and fraternal encounter (in spite of the cold and the darkness).

Father’s Family

As on the 18th of January, the theme of "being family," in a more profound way, much more essential that something only sociological, came forth from the 20th of January celebration in Schoenstatt. In an outstanding way, Msgr. Wolf showed how Father spoke to us then – and continues speaking to us today – to his family with the words of St. Paul:

"Suddenly, words which are almost 2,000 years old become life. They retrieve their original strength and express what our Father wanted to say to the Sisters and to his followers. They needed to read it and further discover what St. Paul wanted to say at that time and what their Founder wanted to say at that moment. That is how I understand Father’s instruction in another letter from that era directed to the general superior of the Sisters of Mary at that time: "In December, instead of my letters, you can have the first chapter of the Letter to the Philippians read at the beginning of meditation." In this way, throughout the month, they had time to intuit what our Father wanted to tell them with the words of the apostle. St. Paul was the interpreter. With his words, he would translate what the Father and Founder wanted to tell his own from the jail….."

Today, Father is no longer imprisoned. But also today he can continue inspiring through the words of St. Paul his dear Family.

Translation: Carlos Cantú Schoenstatt Family Federation La Feria, Texas USA 012209



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