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 published: 2009-02-27

We would never have met had it not been for that original covenant of love!

A "Worm’s" Eye View of the Conference 2014


Konferenz 2014: Gnadenmoment

Conferencia 2014: un momento de gracias

Conference 2014: a moment of grace

Konferenz 2014: Gnadenmoment


Einfach Familie

Una familia...

A family…

Einfach Familie

Eine klare Entscheidung: am 18. Oktober 2014 dürfen alle kommen  

Una decisión clara: celebramos el 18 de octubre de 2014 con una peregrinación masiva

A clear decisión: we will celebrate October 18, 2014 , with a big pilgrimage

Eine klare Entscheidung: am 18. Oktober 2014 dürfen alle kommen


El equipo de los servidores

The helpers’ team


Prozession zum Urheiligtum am 7. Februar  

Procesión al Santuario Original, 7 de febrero

Procession to the Original Shriine, February 7

Prozession zum Urheiligtum am 7. Februar

Fotos: K2014 – Santos, Leal, Padilla © 2009


K2014, Mary Cole. As an interpreter and translator I took on the role of "observer", so my experience of the Conference was very different from that of Fr Bryan and Duncan, as official representatives of England, who were in the thick of things. However, it was no less interesting.

I arrived in Frankfurt on 30th January and was met by a Sister, who was meeting another Sister from Mexico, and we all travelled to Schoenstatt, House, Marienland together. It was a good start! Sr Kornelia of the Press Office was on hand to introduce us to the other helpers and Fr Matheus Bernardes, a young Brazilian Father who was "in charge" of the helpers. It is difficult to praise him highly enough. Not only could he speak German, Spanish and English (besides Portuguese, his mother tongue) fluently, he had the ability to calm everyone when tension was rising. For instance, at one meeting of helpers after lunch he suddenly picked up a bell and began to dance as he sang "Jingle bells". We all laughed, and the next moment he settled down to work again. It was magic! Sr Kornelia was his ideal "partner", speaking as many lauguages and able to keep her cool as the temperature rose! Yes, it did rise, because we were all under considerable pressure as the conference got under way. The two saw to it that our international team of helpers soon became a community.

The backroom team worked wonders until late into the night

The backroom team – mainly young people – worked wonders until late into the night to get all the material for the conference duplicated in various colours and collated in folders for the delegates and interpreters. The English-speaking delegates had red lanyards with their ID, so they also got "red" (more orange) handouts; German was in green and Spanish in blue. The helpers wore yellow lanyards. So everyone knew who everyone was. It was an excellent system.

On Saturday afternoon we were introduced to our job and the technology by Birgitt Winter, a Lady of Schoenstatt, and like Sr Marion a professional interpreter. The English team of interpreters was led by Sr Marion, who is also fluent in French, and included Sarah-Leah from South Africa, who is completing her MA as interpreter and translator, and who is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish; Mark, a young Texan studying in Chile who interpreted from Spanish, and myself. So we four shared a box and many laughs. There was also a German box and a Spanish box. The technology was such that we could link into another box when necessary and interpret from what was being said there. This became necessary for the other boxes when Portuguese or French were spoken. There was one disadvantage in the box – it became terribly hot and we all drank gallons of bottled water. But we were also "fed" lovely cookies by grateful participants!

The outcome was open

The Conference as such began on Sunday evening in the auditorium of Father Kentenich House. Fr Walter had kindly let us have a copy of his introductory talk, for which I was very grateful, because it was very difficult to translate. I translated it, but unfortunately we all forgot to print it out. But Sr Kornelia had her laptop in the Conference hall, and so I was able to read my translation from Sr Kornelia’s laptop – a bit crazy but a great help. Fr. Walter’s sermon for the next day was also translated and given to everyone in the Adoration Church. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, our "Schoenstatt" bishop and chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, also addressed the conference by media linkup, and the delegates received his words in writing afterwards. After that we didn’t know what would happen, so we couldn’t prepare ourselves. But it is far easier to interpret "off the cuff" interventions than a prepared text. Birgitt Winter also had to tell the delegates how the technology and translating worked, giving a few ground rules.

I found the conference fascinating, because its outcome was open. The delegates were drawn into a process, which initially took up quite some time and you could feel that some became impatient. The delegates had three "questions" to answer: What are we celebrating, how are we celebrating and where are we celebrating? It was wonderful to see how the very disparate gathering gradually united as they answered these questions.

We will be there, anyway

The delegates were divided into language groups and were given the questions for the first session. Their answers had to be summarized on pieces of card and presented to the plenary session by one member, who had three minutes to explain the card. During the breaks the MCs and organizers of the conference worked hard to sort the cards into groups to reveal a pattern. Then the next group discussion took place. We soon gave up going back to Marienland for the group discussions, which took place either in the hall or outside in the foyer. The other helpers were kept busy moving with the microphones to the next speaker and telling us the language so that we knew who was "on". Each session began with a hymn and at the end a Sister summarized everything in prayer, followed by a hymn. It was a wonderful experience.

The contributions of the delegates were not all "serious", although no one wasted time. Our two Fathers managed to start their contributions with a joke, and I was really proud of their interventions, which aimed at opening up the way ahead when the going got a bit stuck. One Sister from Rome had us all in stitches, because she "proved" clearly that without Italy Schoenstatt wouldn’t exist! The founder had taken up his idea of a place of grace from Bartolo Longo, an Italian lawyer, and Pompei, and many of his ideas came from Italian saints. There is also a "rumour" that Fr Kentenich’s grandfather worked in Italy, Naples, I think, but scepticism is in order. Sister was wonderful and had enough personality for six!

Gradually it became clear that the answer to the first question was the covenant of love. And more and more the desire became evident to be united all over the world in our preparation and celebration. Finally the question came: Where do we want to celebrate? The answer: At the place of origin, where else? It was quite funny to see the rearguard action on the part of some of the German delegates to decentralize the celebrations, or keep them within some manageable limits, but the South Americans in particular said: Our people are already saving up, so we will be here to celebrate at the place of origin. And if they are here, you can’t stop them going to Rome as well. So for better or worse the number of twenty thousand had to be accepted. It could well be more! Of course, the international Family will help with financing and organizing, but we will be there!

See you in 2014

Like the beginning, we ended at the original shrine. While the delegates were celebrating Mass in the Marienau house chapel, we were busy copying, translating, and burning CDs with all the documentation and some photos, so that before they left every delegate had a full record of what had been said and decided. We were in time to meet them as they came in procession from the Marienau to the original shrine. There helpers collected the lanyards. Fr Walter then sent us out officially from the shrine and each country was called up to receive a symbol (a slate from the roof of the original shrine) of the mission from him. Since our two Fathers had already left, I went up on their behalf! Then we were asked to pick one of the lanyards from the baskets outside and see the "owner" of that lanyard as our "prayer partner" in the time of preparation. I got a member of the Family Federation in Milwaukee. I was drawn by Cássio, and will have to communicate with him via Sarah Leah in South Africa. We would never have met had it not been for that original covenant of love!

That was the end for the delegates, but we helpers had been warned not to book any return flight on Saturday. We were expected in the Father House on Mount Sion by the Fathers. The evening started with Mass celebrated by Fr Matheus, after which we had supper with the Fathers, followed by a relaxing and most entertaining time in their community room. In the end each of us was presented with a peaked cap (white for the women, navy for the men) with the date 2014 stencilled up front, as a memento and thank you. As the young people returned to their normal occupations in Schoenstatt they shed many tears at the dissolution of this very special team. We all hope to meet again in 2014!



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