An interview with Fr. Marcelo Cervi, Future Rector of the Schoenstatt Shrine and International Center in Rome Belmonte •
What does Belmonte in Rome represent?
The Belmonte Schoenstatt Shrine and International Center in Rome were a gift from the International Schoenstatt Family to their founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, on the occasion of his 80th birthday in Rome, in 1965. Father Kentenich saw this place as a concrete symbol of the International Schoenstatt Work’s full insertion into the Church. Schoenstatt, as a Catholic Movement, was lacking concrete visibility in the city of Rome, See of the Catholic Church. Symbolically the Belmonte Shrine and International Center in Rome reminds us of the image of a river “delta.” Just as an extensive and flowing river travels a long way to reach the sea, Schoenstatt has made a long journey through different cultures and peoples. Even more so, in its different communities sheltering all states of Christian life and with an ever, deep understanding of the role of Mary and the Shrine in the formation of the new man, it now presents itself to society and in communion to the Church with an openness in the form of a delta. Belmonte Rome wants to be a place where the fruitfulness of a charism in service to the Church and in deep communion with her opens itself up in many directions and can be known, deepened or tried.
Belmonte Rome is for whom?
It is for everyone! Over all, it is a place to live the maturity of our Father and Founder’s original idea of a “Universal Apostolic Confederation.” It is the privileged place for different Schoenstatt communities to live together and work in common. It is the place for the verification of our “being an international family,” and in studying and understanding the entire message of Belmonte. Afterwards Belmonte, as Father Kentenich’s pulpit in Rome, aspires to be a place of encounter with his person and his charism, with his being, his ideas, his message and his understanding of the Church, prophetically proclaimed when he spoke his conferences in Belmonte at the end of the Second Vatican Council, and now is very visible in the present Pontificate.
There are 200 Schoenstatt Shrines. Why one in Belmonte?
Each one of the Schoenstatt Shrines has a precise mission. They emerged, in general, from a life current and desire to be a response to all people’s determined situations in every time. The Belmonte Shrine in Rome emerged from a life current of experiencing the “international family” in full communion with the Church and as a place to experience a proven charism in her service. Furthermore, this Shrine, along with the International Center, desires to be a “home” for all Schoenstatters passing through Rome. This should be their “Roman house,” their place of support and their place to rest “as family,” with the home (Shrine), the Blessed Mother (our Mother and Queen) and with the Father (Father Kentenich, our Founder). Everyone should feel at home here.
Father Kentenich often mentions a renewed Church, a new Church. In this sense, does this Shrine have a special mission, and, if this is so, how will it be carried out in its new task?
In Belmonte-Rome, our Father and Founder spoke concretely of a vision of the Church. Fifty years have passed since that message was proclaimed, and we can see how it is still in force. He spoke of the “Church on the new shores,” a family-style Church which is a “pilgrim rock”: immovable in its principles and mission, and at the same time, accompanying today’s man, participating in his life, also being soul of the culture and the world. This International Center should make this message known and collaborate effectively with the renewal of the Church, starting from the charism given by God to Father Kentenich and, through him, to his entire spiritual family. The Rector is, in a certain way, a guarantor that Belmonte fulfills its mission.
Father Kentenich speaks of “feeling with the Church.” Is it felt, lived, will Belmonte celebrate with the Church? How? How is love for the Church expressed at Belmonte?
Love for the Church and loyalty to the Holy Father are visible in this Shrine; for example, in the daily celebration of the Eucharist, offering the Eucharist for the intentions of the Church, commemorating great events like synods, canonizations, messages from the Holy Father to the entire Universal Church… The International Center should also be, in time, the place where the Church’s multiple Movements can meet to reflect and pray for their common mission and to be the “gift” of the Holy Spirit for the present time.
Let us speak of the International Center in Rome. How do you see its internationality?
Internationality is a characteristic trait of the entire Schoenstatt Family. The International Center should be the place of encounter with this characteristic, not only in the people who visit it, but also in its presentation: information available in various languages, formation material and information about Schoenstatt (printed books and items of piety) from different countries, the possibility for consultation in different languages on Father Kentenich’s thinking, in an “international” library, etc. Something very original about this Center’s international presentation in Domus Pater Kentenich is the original idea of giving each room the name of a country where there is a Shrine, and in the room that country is in charge of placing a crucifix and an image of the Blessed Mother that are typical of their culture, as a clear manifestation of Schoenstatt’s rootedness in that culture.
Belmonte: four nationalities in one photo – Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Italy. Also present, although not in the photo: Cuba, Germany, Ecuador
What is your greatest concern with your new task?
Naturally my greatest concern is to help Belmonte fulfill its mission in what our dear Father and Founder wanted and that would faithfully take place there; that today it truly be what we, his children, need to be with him in Rome. My dream is also that Belmonte becomes a place of support for everyone, but especially for the Schoenstatters who pass through Rome, that there they feel at home and can deepen the charism they share.
You will take charge on January 22, 2017. What is your dream for Belmonte Rome on January 22, 2018?
Only one dream: that I can respond to the many needs and expectations of the International Schoenstatt Family, but especially, that I can see the International Center functioning fully.
Original Spanish: Translation: Carlos Cantú, La Feria, Texas USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA