An interview with Fr Christoph Löhr •
What does Belmonte stand for?
As Schoenstatters we immediately answer: For our Father and Founder, Fr Joseph Kentenich’s, vision of the future; but today, as those responsible for the building and management noted during our meeting with our colleagues for fundraising and communication, that has to be spelled out in detail: What is this vision of the future? This gives rise to the question: What is the future of the Church? How can the togetherness of priests and laity be re-ordered so that the one serves the other, the individual charisms support and promote the others, so that the Church is really marked by the fact that very many people support her and contribute their charisms.
Schoenstatt has two hundred shrines. Why do we need a shrine in Rome?
The Rome shrine can actually be compared to a river delta. The many currents of the last years and decades, for which the various daughter shrines stand, culminate and come together in the Rome shrine, in Belmonte, and find original expression there; that is, each daughter shrine should be able to find itself there and see itself as in a mirror. Then it opens out into the Church and world: We offer ourselves, as Fr Kentenich wanted, to the world and Church, so that from the Rome shrine we can help to form the world and Church, for example, through our original and distinctive covenant of love, that is, with what Schoenstatt has given us in a special way.
Fr Kentenich often spoke about a renewed and new Church. Does the shrine in Rome have a special mission in this regard?
The vision connected with this has become visible for the first time in Schoenstatt’s history, that is, that Schoenstatters from various sections of the Movement are working together in an exemplary way. That is to say, there is hope that a great deal of life will take root here, so that not so much individual sections of the Movement settle here, but that the best of the various sections live together in an exemplary way for all who come here as guests, or for a longer period. The presence of various Schoenstatters is meant to become a gift to the universal Church.
Key word: Universal. We talk about an international Schoenstatt Centre in Rome. How do you see the international character of Belmonte?
I see it in the fact that an individual shrine is no longer the focal point, nor even a certain nation with its corresponding character. Instead, Belmonte is in fact a place where groups and nations come together in an interplay of our best forces and convictions, and enrich one another strongly. No charism may go under, but contribute to the greater enrichment of our togetherness.
Today we said that the Domus Pater Kentenich (could possibly) be opened on 1 January 2017. What is your wish for 1 January 2018?
It would be wonderful if after a year we have a small and good permanent presence here – the house Rector, a small community of Sisters of Mary, perhaps also the Fathers, who simply become a permanent presence, who are responsible locally, but then in addition students or other Schoenstatters who come to Rome for a few days or even longer, who share our life and influence Belmonte individually in that time. That is to say, guests who come perhaps every two years, experience the Church in a new way each time in Belmonte through the people there. That is my favourite vision!