ARGENTINA, Córdoba, Juan Barbosa •
On Saturday, 7 November, the first priestly ordination in its history was held in the Shrine of Life and of Hope: Juan Andrés Le Vraux is now a Schoenstatt Father. This celebration became a milestone that will remain forever in the Córdoba Schoenstatt Family’s memory. There were a thousand participants, a threat of rain, which in the end was delayed, and the presence of two bishops concelebrating along with more than thirty priests and seminarians. One of their sons, a member of the Boys’ Youth, who is loved by everyone and who showed a very special seal during his stage of formation…had fulfilled his dream!
A little bit of history
At only 31, Fr. Juan André began his priesthood; he dreamed of this call around April 2005 during his third year of studies in Economics, and he interpreted the call for a priestly vocation. Juan answered the Lord’s call.
He discussed it with his family (his parents and three siblings), and after six months of sealing his Covenant of Love with Mary, he decided to join the Community of the Schoenstatt Fathers. He began the Novitiate in Tupãrendá in March 2006, along with twenty-three other candidates from various countries. Fr. Francisco Pistilli, now bishop of Encarnación, was his novice master, and now he was ordaining him as a priest. He was ordained as a deacon in Santiago, Chile in April of this year, after a time of training that included Paraguay, Chile and Germany.
Juan the beloved is ordained in the Hill Shrine!
A few months ago, the news spread rapidly through the Schoenstatt Family of Córdoba and there was double joy: first because of his ordination and secondly, because of the place… the Hill Shrine (as the Shrine of Life and of Hope is known because it is located in the Cerro de las Rosas neighborhood). “We have never experienced anything like this!” many Schoenstatters said joyfully.
Various commissions were organized so that this day would be a celebration. Two initial claims that were later perfected and adjusted were basic in order that creativity would not be limited: “That it would not rain, and that we would not have financial problems!”
Córdoba is known for its joy and music. This would play a fundamental part of the celebration so a choir was organized five months before, and the result was extraordinary.
As the days passed, and in the measure that the decisions progressed, the grounds of the Fr. Joseph Kentenich Center grew in beauty and practicality. The entire Family lined up for this true milestone for the Shrine of Life and of Hope.
There were concerns about the weather and the possibility that rain could ruin the celebration, some checked the extended weather forecast fifteen days before, and others “encouraged” the sun to reign over the threatening clouds that might appear.
The long, awaited day arrived
With everything ready, the Family began to gather together very early. The Madrugadores began their prayers at 7:00 a.m., twelve hours prior to the ordination. If there was any nervousness, it did not show in the smiles on everyone’s faces, since they reflected…the soul’s joy.
Various groups from Chile, Paraguay, and the USA, and from different places in Argentina congregated and the hugs and hellos were endless. Even a group of Schoenstatt 2014 volunteers attended and they kept smiling.
The sun “peeked out” among the clouds, some of which were very dark, testing the participants’ trust. The choir carried out their last rehearsal, many people greeted one another happily, children were running around everywhere, the volunteers sorted out the final details and…the hour arrived!
An endless line with two bishops and more than thirty priests and seminarians led the procession for the Ordination Mass.
Deacon Juan Le Vraux, was in the middle, carrying the Lectionary, when, upon seeing the beloved Andreé (a highly esteemed Schoenstatt collaborator) in her wheelchair, he got out of line to embrace her with great affection… “The world stopped” for 15 to 30 seconds for Juan and heaven came close to Andreé…
Ten years of waiting finally ended
Bishops Francisco Pistilli and José Ángel Rovai began the ceremony, which brought the long wait to an end with the presence of Juan’s parents, his siblings, and nieces and nephews in the first pews. Fr. Javier Arteaga, Superior of the Schoenstatt Father in the Region of La Plata, presented to the main celebrant, Bishop Francisco Pistilli, the postulant to the priesthood.
While “heaven” on earth was being experienced, the sky was threatening and thunder rumbled causing the chairs and the participants’ hearts to tremble (in the end there was one comment: “When I heard the thunder, I began to pray insistently to the Blessed Mother so it would not rain!”)
Emotions grew with the entrance, Andeé ‘s embrace, the image of the deacon before the bishop, his prostration, his vesting, his entrance toward con-celebration, and his final expression of gratitude. Everything in an atmosphere filled with tears/smiles, unceasing tears.
Toward new shores
“Son, although sometimes the catch is not the one that is hoped for, you will always have grace to help you and in advancing in your priesthood towards others and with them towards God,” said Bishop Pistilli during his homily, referring to the Gospel reading. The joy of the priesthood and perseverance, joined with grace, are guarantees of a committed and happy life and Juan, now Fr. Juan Andrés Le Vraux, will undoubtedly give witness to this.
“Two things profoundly drew my attention. The first thing: It did not rain! (There was laughter and relief within the audience). The second: I am a Priest! I cannot believe it!”
Spontaneous applause erupted effusively in the audience. After a long and heartfelt expression of gratitude that began for his parents and siblings, Fr. Juan Andrés began his priesthood.
A celebration for the family, a celebration for the Church, a celebration in heaven!