CHILE, Verónica Gutiérrez •
There were several events and special commemorations during the weekend of October 21 for the Chilean Schoenstatt community. In the first place, it was the date of the fourth milestone of Schoenstatt’s history when Fr. Kentenich was re-incorporated into the Church, he allowing his return and continuing as the director of this movement. The second point, it was St. John Paul II Day and Fr. Joseph Kentenich’s first visit to Chile. With so much to celebrate, the National Leaders’ Gathering was held at the Cenacle Shrine of Bellavista in Santiago.
The Year of Father Kentenich in Chile
Chile’s capital welcomed the members of the Movement, who arrived for the National Gathering from the desert to the southernmost part of the country, with a sunny weekend. They divided into different “families” (work groups) and therefore, among members from the different branches, they talked about Fr. Kentenich and how to carry out his mission as a Schoenstatt reaching out, during this Year of the Father.
“The exact idea was to combine the 70th year celebration of Fr. Joseph Kentenich’s visit to Chile (then he came nine more times), to then gather everything that he left us, and to project it toward Pope Francis’ visit to Chile in January,” Fr. Mariano Irureta explained.
The gathering was celebrated with group activities and reflections with members of all ages, branches and regions. The great surprise was a musical about Fr. Joseph’s life in an analogy with the musical “Les Miserables.” Several of the guests considered this as one of their favorite moments. “They have been rehearsing since March. Committed people of different ages, different areas and different commitments!” exclaimed Macarena Ruiz Tagle, who supported this entire event.
On Sunday, with dances and applause, the new hymn for Pope Francis’ coming was announced; national artist, Américo, composed and interpreted this hymn. A greeting was also recorded telling the Pope “we are waiting for you!” To finalize, there was a conclusion with a great message: attachment, “to make the area a “shrine”, establishing family. To attach oneself to Father Kentenich`s mission and life, to attach oneself to the families and after receiving the three graces from the Shrine (sheltering, transformation and sending forth), to dare to take them to others and to put them into practice outside.
At the end of the gathering during the closing Mass, the project of the Heavenwards CD was presented. A group of twenty-six youths have worked on this for several months and who have set the Mass from the prayer book to music. “There are some well-known songs with new arrangements, and there are some songs that are completely unpublished,” Sophie Berthet explained. She is a member of the group and Pedro Gutiérrez added, “This was born because it is the Year of Father Kentenich and we wanted to give this gift to the Schoenstatt Family.”
Waiting for the Pope
It has been twenty-two years since a Pope has stepped on Chilean soil. In May 1985, Pope John Paul II visited Chile. They were three days that rocked the country to the core, when the country was experiencing complicated political times. Many years have passed, and the country has changed a lot. In January, Pope Francis is coming and the Movement is not staying behind. Every Branch is working toward the visit, first with capital of grace. Then there has been much work to motivate and volunteer for the different preparations. Especially in the shrines, if Iquique, (in the northern region of the country) and Ayenrehue in Temuco the (IX region in southern part of the country) is working more it is because these are close to the capital, and they are the three cities that the Pontiff will visit. Victor explained, In Iquique, they know many people will come from neighboring countries such as Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia, and they are preparing to welcome them. From the Shrine of Ayinrehue, in Temuco, Maria Cecilia Gutiérrez, related that the Pope will visit the Sisters of Holy Cross on Ñelol hill, where he will have lunch with the most needy.
Fr. Mariano also explained that the preparation begins “first by being loyal to oneself, being loyal to the charism, being loyal to the mission, being loyal to the Movement, and to what the Church also asks of us. I think this is one of the biggest challenges: loyalty to the founding graces. That is what John Paul II told us, “participate in the grace and the spiritual experience of the first sodalists and give it to the Church.”
As to the welcome and how they hope this visit will be, Fr. Mariano added, “we want the Pope to feel good in Chile, welcomed in its home, in its nation. That he will know how much we love him, how much we value what he does. That he experiences the great gratitude and that the people of Chile will listen to his words of peace, unity, strength and dignity for families. Without a doubt, we expect a renewal of faith in our Church for the present time.”
Schoenstatt reaching out
The great message that was communicated to the branch leaders was to make a Schoenstatt reaching out: attaching themselves more with communities, with dioceses, parishes. To do this a “Pilgrim Father” was created, it is figure similar to the Pilgrim Mother, but with a photo of Fr. Joseph, which will be in the city of Temuco first and then from there it will travel to all the country’s Shrines and wayside shrines. On the back, there is a compartment that has a notebook, where it is hoped that the experiences upon receiving the “Pilgrim Father” in their Branches will be written and shared.
Representatives from all the regions participated in the gathering. Every community renewed their commitment with Father, and they adopted special commitments in front of Fr. Kentenich’s statue, such as finishing some hall, more capital of grace, etc. etc. There in front of Fr. Kentenich, Fr. Mariano asked one by one “Do you go with me?” and each Branch responded “Yes, Father! We go with you.”
Every area has its own challenges to fulfill the mission. In the furthest areas, to remain loyal, even when there is little with which to welcome. Víctor Echeverría from Iquique told how they have welcomed families from different nationalities in the Shrine, and how each one, with its different cultures and traditions have made a contribution and enriched the Branches.
María Ester from Nuevo Belén in Santiago explained that in that community the work begins from the base. Since it is a greater difficult and dangerous neighborhood, the people do not dare to receive.
Filled with energy and graces after having experienced this weekend of getting to know and to bond with one another and also learning about the realities of the movement, Fr. Mariano said “You may return to your Branches and tell the others: Huichi-pirich!  ] “See what you missed?