Posted On 2018-11-23 In Covenant Life

An October 18th awaiting the shrine of southern Paraguay

PARAGUAY, Laura Andrea Barrios •

It was a great challenge experiencing the Covenant Celebration on October 18th this year in Encarnación, which is in the midst of a spiritual conquest of the South’s daughter shrine. The Work Council began preparations during previous months and with the distribution of tasks —

During the novena, it rained almost every day. Meanwhile we were very close together in the Casita de la Mater (the Blessed Mother’s Little House) which Frs. Oscar Saldívar and Santiago Cacavelos baptized as the “joyful and pious Little House.” She welcomed us, and we felt the love of the community. Each day was assigned to a Branch group or a ministry, and the Rosary Campaign led it. Every group offered their best creativity, and we enjoyed every rosary.

We were able to enjoy the closing day outdoors on Wednesday the 17th. The sky had cleared and everything was ready to experience the celebration without complications. Despite that there were some dark clouds, but we trusted in Divine Providence and in the many prayers. We continued to finalize the details, since we had to have a Plan “B” in case of rain.  Once everything was organized, we left to rest, but not before watching the weather forecast that showed a thunderstorm at the time of the procession planned for the 18th.


Photo: Entrance procession, cathedral of Encarnación

Rain…or no rain? A difficult decision

The day of the 18th began with torrential rain, but according to the plan, a decision would be made at noon. By that time, the sky was blue although the patio was muddy as a result of the rain. Both places had to be prepared, or to opt for one, because the forecast continued predicting a storm at the time of the procession.

The Family Branch leaders, Raquel y Nicolás Serrati, were in charge of the organization. Because of a work-related call at the last minute, he was on a trip with his boss, and he was unable to use the phone. A tremendous contribution to the Capital of Grace. He was always so meticulous with the details and at this time it could not be decided. So everything was left up to their representative, Raquel Elgue, who had to make the decision.

At 3:00 pm, the call was urgent; we had to prepare everything in the best way possible. Architect Jorge Hrisuk, as always, arrived with his work of art for the Auxiliary’s platform. The fresh flowers for the Cathedral, the procession, and the stage for the official ceremony were prepared. Hands joined in at Raquel’s request: Richard Samudio, for the Boys’ Youth, Rubén Maldonado, for the Corazones Solidarios en Maria, also the Family Work were those who were in charge of moving the recently painted benches, under Raquel’s supervision.

A missionary, an angel who gave her hands

Suddenly, a woman approached asking what time the Mass would begin. Raquel answered that the rosary would begin at 7:00 pm. Then the woman told her that she was a Campaign missionary, who had not come in a long time, but since it was such a special date, she wanted to attend. And so Raquel invited her to help to finish organizing the benches in the church because it was her place to be there to also prepare for the celebration.

It was probably an angel who offered her hands, since we do not know the woman’s name, and she was not seen again. However she contributed to the Capital of Grace, and she collaborated to finish organizing the church.

Nicolás wanted to have the celebration at the Casita

The group was at the Casita, because Raquel knew that it was Nico’s greatest desire to have the celebration at the Casita Alegre y Piadosa (Joyful and Pious Little House), she gave it her all to have it there close to our Home Shrine, where we gather every day beneath the attentive gaze of our Blessed Mother, her celebration could not be an exception. We all set to work to arrange everything for the celebration.

At 6:30 pm, we expected the arrival of the Rosary Campaign members from Tupãrenda, bringing the Auxiliary MTA for the Missionary commitment renewal along with the Brave Men of the Rosary and everyone who did not go to the National Shrine.

A new group of the Mothers’ Branch

Meanwhile a group of young mothers sealed their group commitment, and they waited for Fr. Santiago Cacavelos. This is what Analía Cabrera García, the group leader related:

It was an incredible experience!

We began to prepare during the preceding days, so that our commitment as a group would turn out well. What better date than October 18th, such an important date for every Schoenstatter, and we were there eagerly for the event’s experience.

It was a night filled with love, peace, and joy. We connected with our sister Mara, who is now in Las Vegas, everything was complete and ready for the ceremony to begin.

We committed ourselves to the Blessed Mother; we announced the group name and the meaning of the logo.

MAGNÍFICAT, because we want to be like her, and for our lives to be a song of thanksgiving for the mission that God entrusted to us that we assumed at the service of others. We take Jesus to the world to shape it into women who mirror the Blessed Mother’s soul, and that they see themselves in constant good will to fulfill and to continue with God’s plan, recognizing our smallness and the size of the mission that he entrusted to us.

We were happy to be a part of this very special moment for every Schoenstatter, we were more than willing to contribute our little grain of sand and to build the much-desired Shrine of the South in the Nation of God!


Photo: Group of Mothers’ Branch

An unexpected gift from the Blessed Mother

After the ceremony and Holy Rosary for the entire community and HVR (Hombres Valientes del Rosario)led it, we prepared to begin the Eucharistic celebration.

Personally I had an unexpected gift from the Blessed Mother: although it was planned in another way, we were chosen to carry one of the flags in the procession, which we happily did.

The distribution was as follows:  Enrique González and Laura Barrios with the Paraguayan flag; María Elisa Sánchez with the papal flag; Beatriz and Carlos García with the Schoenstatt flag; Sandra and Daniel Tkachik for the Family Branch; Gabriela González for the Girls’ Youth; Antonio Kokes for the Boys’ Youth; Juan José González took the capital of grace and Lourdes Figueredo, from the Professional Branch took the banner for the conquest of the wayside shrine for the Shrine of the South.

The Bishop of Encarnación, Francisco Javier Pistilli Scorsara celebrated the Mass, which Fathers Gilberto Penayo, pastor of the cathedral, Berardo Medina, Vicar and our adviser, Santiago Cacavelos con-celebrated; Iván Gamarra was acolyte and Jesús Figueredo—altar server.

The family wants to build a Shrine

The Gospel of Luke 10:1-9, “After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others, whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit,” Fr. Santiago Cacvelos proclaimed, and in the homily, Bishop Pistili gave us a message and a mission for the times that we are living as a family.

“Every time a missionary activity, a ministry activity, a new church project begins, it is good to listen to this word of Christ. The family wants to build a shrine, like sheep in the midst of wolves, there is much to do, and we need many allies. Do not take money, provisions, sandals and do not stop to greet anyone. Do not lose time. The mission is more important. When you enter a house, ask peace to descend, be messengers of peace.

Remain with those with whom you share responsibilities, tasks, remain with those whom, perhaps are not those with whom one dreamed having at one’s side; but instead, God chose them to be with you. The missionary does not choose his/her companions, God does. The missionary does not choose which house to go to, God opens the doors.

Sometimes we want everything to be according to our liking, to our image, and God tells us the opposite. Do not change groups, do not leave the Movement, work with those whom God placed at your side, with those whom he sent to carry out your mission. And I insist the work will have its reward. This is not a vacation, it is not that way.

You do something for those people, because those people also need and expect health, a blessing, encouragement. There is much work. We need more allies to carry out this mission everywhere, and that they do it with faith and loyalty. With this loyalty which does not allow itself to be seduced and does not allow itself to be confused; but instead, who, against every adversity, is willing to fulfill the commitment they assumed with the consecration they sealed, in covenant with her. Those who are willing to live, and if God is willing, to die loyally in the mission they assumed.

If we want to build this kingdom where God and Mary’s presence can be experienced in a family, in a group of brothers/sisters who are committed to the Church, then the Blessed Mother again tells us like in 1914: “Prove to me with deeds that you love me.” Prove to me with deeds that you love me and then I will establish myself in your midst, then I will erect a shrine in your midst. And she will share the graces that God gave her with us so we may continue to build the Kingdom of Christ.”

Finally, the procession began…without rain

At the end of Mass, the procession began to the Casita, where everything was prepared to share with the family. And upon leaving with the multitude, María José, who was in her mother’s Mariela Núñez’ arms, and her little brother, Pedro, who was in his father’s Sergio Alarcón’s arms, at the bottom of the steps Sergio shouted “Long live the Blessed Mother,” the procession continued until the Auxiliary MTA on the platform disappeared from view and they got into the vehicle. María José, who is only two years old, and her little brother pray the Rosary, and they love the Blessed Mother. The women around her turned to see who shouted so fervently.

Many accompanied us on the pilgrimage and at the Casita, where everything was ready to enjoy one of the artistic numbers and a small sharing.

Father Santiago said a few words, and he blessed everyone, especially Monse Vargas, a young girl from the Girls’ Youth who was participating for the first time, and it was the most beautiful moment for her. Then the capital of grace was burned and with the 3,000 rosaries offered since 19 September, and 1,000 national raffle stubs sold. We made approximately 50 million Guaranies ($8,400. or 7,300 Euros). The pyre was burning and the background music invited us to pray for every petition.

The most important thing: everyone wants a shrine.

Photo: In front of the cathedral in Encarnación

The shepherd’s visit completed the celebration

Our Bishop Francisco Javier honored us with his presence, and he also offered some words with the humility and paternity typical of him.

It was a beautiful night where everything went perfectly, just as Nico (the Leader of the Family Branch) wanted it, and Raquel, in his absence took charge of preparing it. The two are tireless, they are attentive to every detail. He was in charge of the music and the video presentation of taking possession of the land, which is our start for building the daughter shrine. And as a highlight, the Blessed Mother in the Auxiliary MTA wanted to go with them to their home, in gratitude for so much commitment and willingness.

Thus was our experience of this beautiful celebration during the time of spiritual and material conquest for the construction of the daughter shrine in the South of the Nation of God.


Original: Spanish. 5 November 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Jankegt, Elgin, TX USA

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