María Fischer •
A burning sun, cloudless sky, no shade, 35° C…(95° F) a dozen youths, a priest and a couple determined to sort, carry and place paving stones, strongly hammering, repeatedly quality checking their work, hour after hour, day after day –for a week– all the while transforming sandy and uneven ground at the lower part of the Belmonte Schoenstatt International Center in Rome slowly into a well-proportioned, paved square that serves much more than parking for cars and buses.
Why do they do it? Why did they sacrifice a relaxing vacation, pay for their way from southern Germany to Rome to sleep on cots or sleeping bags in the parish hall, sweat copiously under the Roman sun, and in some cases for the third or fourth time?
“Simply because we like it”
“I don’t know, I do it because I like it,” said one of the youths, a little perplexed when asked why he did it. Moreover, with his look he said: what a question, it is logical, there is nothing better! His biggest worry is, “That everything will be finished, and we do not need a new time for construction.”
“The group is fantastic,” commented a girl who has helped more than once doing construction at Belmonte. You meet people, you have a good time with others, and something is accomplished.
“I heard about this through a friend,” a young boy said. “And since I had never been in Rome, I thought: I also want to participate.”
“Rome is simply important; it is the Church!” one of them said. “And we have built this together.”
They planned a visit to the city on one day or another, in addition to a trip to the beach. On the first night, they had a soccer match with the parish youths. “How did it go?” The reply was, “We lost. But we almost won. And proudly.”
Childlikeness gives a hand
Carmen and Jürgen Reinle, from the Freiburg region of Germany, have helped with this construction work for years. They take care of the food and logistic support, and throughout the year, they joyfully wait for this active and youthful week in Rome moment. Carmen Reinle loves Santa Gemma Parish’s hospitality, and the kindness with which they are welcomed. “Once a week they offer food for the homeless,” Carmen told us. “Two large crates with grapes remained and they gave it to us.”
Fr. Armin Noppenberger, from the Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests, accompanied the group. He helped carry stones, he celebrated Holy Mass with the youths in the shrine, and he contemplated how a new church is born. Several years ago, some youths left their handprints in the fresh cement on the road on the grounds. “That is what we need every time we help to build,” he thought, “A permanent sign for collaborating, for being present. Thus Belmonte will always be the shrine of all of us.”
Youthful attitude of gratitude for wayside shrine
8 September, twelfth anniversary of the blessing of the shrine, Feast of the Blessed Mother’s Nativity. The Italian Schoenstatt Family celebrated it the previous Sunday; the pilgrims who attended the Mass of Mother Teresa’s canonization, and who visited the shrine during that time already had departed. Belmonte’s spacious grounds seemed even emptier.
The youths gathered early in the morning at the wayside shrine to pray Morning Prayer, and they expressed gratitude for the twelve years of the shrine they helped to build.
It is good they are here!
Original: German. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA