ROME, Belmonte, from Maria Fischer •
8 September 2015, eleventh anniversary of the dedication of the shrine of all of us in Rome. The Italian Schoenstatt Family had already celebrated the anniversary on Sunday – “for the last time on a building site”, as Davide Russo put it. At any rate, the talks and Holy Mass no longer took place in a rented tent as in the past; the entrance hall to the Domus Pater Kentenich has been used for that since the Jubilee pilgrimage in October 2014. So many wonderful memories were awakened of encounters here, of books and the sale of souvenirs, of the good cup of coffee, soft drinks and so many conversations! The fact that on this 6 September many of the plastic bags broke is perhaps a sign that the stopgap solution is coming to an end…
The Domus Pater Kentenich will soon be completed, and it is happening just at the opening of the Holy Year of Mercy. Fifty years after the end of the Second Vatican Council and the symbolic laying of the foundation stone for the Matri Ecclesiae Shrine by Fr Kentenich and his programmatic talk on Schoenstatt’s mission in the post-Conciliar Church.
More than Furniture
“Fr Kentenich’s house in Belmonte is approaching completion. Soon it will be filled with furniture, light fixtures and technology, after doors, windows, bathrooms and tiling have already been installed. However, in order that in addition it can fill with life, and with the spirit of the covenant, of joy in the Gospel and love for the Church, it needs more than furniture; it needs ideas, enthusiasm, movement, life”, Fr Daniel Lozano wrote in a letter in which he invited everyone to become creatively involved. “It needs jars in which the water of the covenant from many shrines in the world is transformed into the “wine” of love for the Church. It needs pillars to support our Father’s house; it needs faces who give the picture of the Blessed Mother a face – three initiatives of the last few years that have moved a great deal and continue to do so.”
The Best of the Covenant Culture of each Country
He then mentioned the initiative that makes the Domus Pater Kentenich unique among all the houses in Schoenstatt worldwide: “It needs the best of the covenant culture of each country in which Schoenstatt exists; it needs the lived witness of Schoenstatters. That is why in this house there is a room for each country in which a shrine has been built, and three seminar rooms named after personalities who have set their stamp on Schoenstatt: Franz Reinisch, Gertraud von Bullion and Joao Pozzobon. On 8 September, the eleventh anniversary of the blessing of our shrine, the General Council of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests solemnly attached the names of the countries and these three personalities to the doors of the guest rooms and seminar rooms.”
A decision in the evening of 7 September
Let us return to 8 September. Since Monday, 7 September, the General Council of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priest has been meeting in Belmonte. They were working so intensively that they were hardly to be seen. In the evening of 7 September they arrived at a decision: We won’t wait for someone to volunteer for the third “untaken” seminar room after the other two have already been named on the initiative of the friends of Fr Reinisch and the Schoenstatt Women’s Federation. The third room will be named after Joao Pozzobon – and we hope that the Pilgrim Mother Campaign all over the world will support this room! It was a moment that gave rise to goosebumps! Eleven years before, at exactly the same time as this decision was taken, a hundred missionaries of the Pilgrim Mother in the Vatican Gardens lifted their pictures in the air. The MTA picture for the shrine had just fallen onto the ground and shattered into a thousand pieces. A silent, but powerful sign. We are there! We will carry the Blessed Mother onward.
“What a lovely room that Germany got!”
Back to 8 September. Late in the afternoon there was Holy Mass in the shrine to celebrate the Birthday of the Blessed Mother. Just before it started an important event took place – the distribution of the rooms to the countries.
To recapitulate: At the blessing of “the shrine of all of us” in September 2004 the riches of the peoples were carried to the shrine in many original jars. Ten years later the countries are invited to make visible something of their riches in “their” room in the House of our Father. Whoever lives in this room one day, will also “live” in the heart and life of a country with its very original mission and culture. Belmonte is meant to be a gift from all the countries – a house for all peoples and cultures in the covenant of love. It’s where everyone can be just as he or she is, and all live under one roof and feel at home with and in one another. There are 31 guest rooms in the Domus Pater Kentenich divided over two floors; there are single and double rooms, two rooms for the disabled, and two rooms with four beds for families or youth, until the youth dormitories have been completed. There are 31 countries where a shrine has been built, so each of the rooms will be given the name of one of these countries. The Schoenstatter in each country are invited to decorate the room, and if possible, also to contribute towards financing it. That has been obvious for a long time. Yet what was still lacking was the actual distribution of the rooms. Now we are so far. And it will be done alphabetically. The first room is called “Argentina”, and the last one “Uruguay”, and between them there are a number of surprises, as the five priests of the General Council remarked. They were accompanied by a photographer as they stuck the names of the countries onto the doors of the rooms.
Actually once they had done the first room they wanted to send the photographer with the list to complete the task, but Fr Stefan Keller called out, “Which beautiful room will Germany get?” Then everyone wanted to see why it is so beautiful … and where Burundi, Portugal and South Africa are. Fr Daniel Lozano, the Rector, smiled broadly as he stood in the doorway of “Argentina”. The room was filled with sunlight. “And it can take in the disabled”, he laughed. “How am I to explain that to the Argentinians?”
View from the window of Portugal
Open for God’s surprises
“The Czech Schoenstatt Family has already financed their room and have now donated some lamps for the external lighting,” Fr Martin Emge said. “And they aren’t there yet. From the window of the Czech room you look directly onto those lamps.” Fr Martin Dörflinger stuck the sign “Burundi” on a room door “as the representative of my course brothers in Burundi.”
“The view from the window of South Africa is definitely the best,” declared Sarah-Leah Pimentel who received one of the first photos of “her” room. On 18 October a pilgrimage from Portugal will arrive in Belmonte. They will see that Portugal’s room is in a corner and is particularly big (four beds), and has a wonderful view of the lower part of the property with the wayside shrine.
You can also see the wayside shrine from the Gertraud room. The Schoenstatt Women’s Federation, which took the initiative for this room, donated the wayside shrine.
View from the Czech window
And now the other countries have their turn ….
Now it’s getting exciting! Each country is invited to put up an MTA picture and cross that are typical for their country in their room. The Australian room will get a cross that has been formed reminiscent of Aboriginal art. The MTA picture from the Philippines has already arrived in Belmonte, and a cross from there will arrive in November.
A further wall decoration should come from each country – something typical and distinctive from nature or the culture of the country.
“And as a surprise for the guest there will be Swiss chocolate in the Swiss room” was the idea of an Argentinian. “Then I only want to spend the night in the Swiss room”, was the prompt rejoinder of Fr Martin Emge. And he asked in return, “And in the Argentinian room will there be Dulce de Lehe or Adfajores as a welcome?” More and more ideas spilled over.
Let them go on bubbling over! Fr Daniel Lozano, the Rector, invites everyone to a “Belmonte meeting” to collect ideas, develop visions, and plan projects … The first meeting already has a place, date and the first participants: 27/28 November, at Memholz, Germany. The Centre has a pillar in Belmonte.
|Rooms of the countries at Belmonte|