DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, Fr. Rolando Montes de Oca •
A fresh wind is blowing in the Caribbean and the Schoenstatt Federation of Diocesan Priests who second it. The reason for this was from July 23-27 the international delegates of the Federation gathered in Santo Domingo. They shared the life of their local communities; they posed challenges, and they took one more step toward the International Federation constitution. —
The warm welcome was the gathering’s first gift, evidence of the Dominicans careful, down to the last detail preparation so that each delegate would feel at home and enjoy the beauty of their culture. The choice of the Dominican Republic for the event was important for the priests, of their Federation: “This fills us with immense joy” — affirmed Neftalí Brito— “It means that they have looked at us with hopeful eyes.”
The originality of a captivating Schoenstatt
The warmth of this Caribbean Island, the natural richness of its tropical landscape, and the faith of its people left its mark on Schoenstatt’s originality that captivates through its joy and missionary passion.
As was already customary, the first day of the gathering was dedicated to sharing with the members of the Federation of Diocesan Priests from the host site. Thirty-three young Dominican priests and seminarians joined fifteen international delegates in encouraging prayer by using Schoenstatt songs with their own rhythm, and they shared the life and challenges of a priestly community with a great capacity of growth.
Nine Covenants of Love
During the first afternoon, the participants went on pilgrimage to the Victoria Schoenstatt Shrine, a neighborhood on the periphery of Santo Domingo. The Sisters and Mary welcomed and accompanied a group of pilgrims as the Eucharist was celebrated, where four priests and five seminarians sealed their Covenants of Love to be members of the federation.
“A Mass in this shrine had never been celebrated with so many priests,” commented Sister Lourdes Javier Flete excitedly, who is in charge of the retreat house. Fr. Egon M. Zillekens, Secretary General of the Federation, who received the nine covenants, celebrated the Eucharist. At the end of the Mass, the celebration continued with a dinner and a cultural celebration.
Being wrapped up in the Blessed Mother’s love
The seminarian, Pedro Y. García, who was among those sealing their Covenant of Love, confessed that “sealing the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother had been a response to God’s call,” and he commented that “undoubtedly, Christ wanted this of me (…) thanks to the Blessed Mother now I am more united to him, and I can give fruits in abundance.” For seminarian Adelso Guzmán, “Walking with others towards the Covenant had marked,” his vocation and sealing the covenant had been “experiencing a closeness with the Blessed Mother, like embracing her and allowing myself to be wrapped by her love.”
The Federation of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests is present in Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, India, Burundi, Chad, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.
Original: Spanish. 29 July 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA