NIGERIA, Collins Ike Nwafor •
On 21 September 2017, the Schoenstatt Fathers in Nigeria celebrated a tripartite event: the end of the Course Tertianship for the Apostles of the Covenant of Love; this Course’s sealing a Covenant of Love with Father Joseph Kentenich; and the official beginning of the “Kentenich Year” as inaugurated on 15 September, 2017 by the entire Schoenstatt Movement.
The immanence of God continues to radiate in humanity through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God promised by Christ and descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost (Jn. 14:16-18; Acts 2), continues to descend and work in individuals through the various gifts and charisms. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are the echoes of God’s ever abiding presence in human life. They challenge us to a life in tandem with the will of God the Father. Thus we struggle to unite ourselves to His divine will and grow in love for our neighbors. Faithfulness to, and appreciation for Divine charity is felt in our way of life and thereby fosters a true attitude of the Kingdom of God. This is what Fr. Kentenich exemplified throughout his lifetime by his faithfulness to the Covenant of Love, and a life of practical faith in Divine Providence. This is why, as admonished by our the General Superior of the Schoenstatt Fathers, Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, we the “Kentenichite” must make our own and live and transmit the charism of Fr. Kentenich.
Fulfilling Fr. Kentenich’s mission
As quoted in Father Juan Pablo Catoggio’s letter sent to the community, and as he stated in the homily at the Opening of the Kentenich Year, St. John Paul II called to our consciousness the task of sharing in the grace Father Kentenich received from God and to continue radiating it in the Church and to all humanity. Added to this was the admonition from Pope Francis when he said, “you are concerned about maintaining the founding charism and the capacity you have of transmitting it to the younger ones.” These admonitions find their basis in us as followers of Fr. Kentenich who once said that, “… God thought of you from all eternity as permanent collaborators in the fulfillment of my mission…” His mission is the Covenant of Love – to draw hearts to God through our MTA in the Shrine.
Intently following his footsteps
The Schoenstatt Fathers’ formation includes a period of specific and intense study of the Second Milestone of our Schoenstatt timeline’s history – its essence, meaning and value. This period is called the First Tertianship. So, having gone through this three-month program, which concluded with the Second Contract Consecration, the Course unanimously decided to seal a Covenant of Love with Fr. Kentenich thereby living, guarding, deepening and developing the charism of the Father and Founder. This step in Course life greatly awakens and strengthens the Course Ideal which is: “As jubilee gifts of the Father and Apostles of the Covenant of Love, we are united in love and peace following the footsteps of our Father, for the renewal of our Sion mission in Nigeria and beyond.”
Champions of winning hearts
It has been evident since novitiate times that the Course has a great emphasis on the way Father Kentenich lived the Covenant of Love, and being champions of this mission of the Mother Thrice Admirable (MTA), they find the perfect model in the founder’s steps. So, it is his help and intercession they seek in this act, in order to win hearts for God our Father and the MTA in the Shrine. Furthermore it is not by mere coincidence or by chance that this Tertianship’s ending and the act of the sealing a Covenant of Love with the founder is celebrated on the same day to mark the beginning of the Kentenich Year, but it is by Divine Providence.
Being receptive to God’s faithfulness in every event
For Father Kentenich always believed that God’s faithfulness is ever felt in all events of our life. It is only our duty to be receptive to the pulse of time made possible through the graces of the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore this beginning and act have both a supernatural and natural correlation. In the natural realm the Kentenich Year becomes a vivid conscious terrain to live out this covenant in a practical way, and in the supernatural realm, the solemn opening and the entire course of the Year becomes the binding force and the spiritual character of the act.
Bl. Karl Leisner once prayed; “God, if you will it, I am ready to give you the things closest to my heart, if you will it. Let me be with you and go the way with you. There is nothing more I want.” Our Father and Founder is the symbol of God the Father – his person and life in the Covenant of Love echoes God’s faithfulness. He offered everything to God through our MTA’s hands in the Covenant of Love. It is through him that we want to echo God’s faithfulness in the Covenant of Love. Father Juan Pablo suggested a paraphrase of the aim of this Kentenich Year as “Kentenich on the Move,” and so, we pray to God to our Father and Founder saying: “Our dear father, through this contract and this Covenant of Love with you, we are ready to collaborate with you in your mission. Let us move on with you. This is all we want.”
Through our thanksgiving to God for the successful completion of the First Tertianship, we pray that this Covenant of Love with Father Kentenich will be a source of strength in being true Apostles of the Covenant of Love, by making known Fr. Kentenich’s charism to all, and preaching the mission of our Blessed Mother Mary from our Schoenstatt Shrine.
Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA
The echoes of God`s faithfulness also resound in the beautiful CD recorded by Schoenstatt Fathers in Nigeria with Nigerian Schoenstatt Songs. Get it here – for a donation of (minimum) 15 € each. Shipping and handling sponsored by the team of Schoenstatt.org.