EL SALVADOR, Isidro Perera •
On 1 May, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, El Salvador held its first national Movement meeting, with the participation of all the branches and Schoenstatt communities in this central American country which is founding the movement there. —
Despite Schoenstatt’s 20-year history in El Salvador, which began with the arrival of the Pilgrim Mother images sent by Fr. Uriburu and the creation of a women’s group, some of them Equadorians who knew Schoenstatt, but it was only a quarter of a century later that this seed would begin to grow with the formation of three new couples’ groups (two of them young married couples), two new women’s groups, a group of young professionals and the first Madrugadores [mens’ rosary group] community.
A Covenant of Love that has been dreamed of for a long time
The meet began with Mass celebrated by Fr. José Luis Correa Lira at the Our Lady of Graces chapel in Onuva.
The Covenant of Love by Billy Nasser at the end of Mass was very emotional, accompanied by his wife Syliva, from the first women’s group and the leader for the G3 women’s group, who years earlier had made her Covenant of Love and which she described as a great gift that the Blessed Mother “gave me, fulfilling a dream; it was a great desire I had in my heart and the Blessed Mother doesn’t hold back in giving us these gifts”, Silvia told us at the end of the meet.
One hundred and twenty responded to the Blessed Mother’s call and meet at the Cajamarca Events Center, a beautiful colonial building in the farmhouse of a coffee plantation with a stunning view of the San Salvador volcano.
A very apostolic Schoenstatt Union
Together with Fr. José Luis Correa, the Director of the Movement in Central America and the Continental Coordinator for the Movement in America, there were also four couples belonging to the Apostolic Union in Costa Rica, who supported the members of the Salvadoran community in preparing for this meeting.
The Day had three main objectives: firstly, to link the entire Schoenstatt family, because to date each community had been isolated in their participation in the Family Work; to present a clear picture of Schoenstatt’s contribution to the Church and Salvadoran society; and finally, to give a formal structure to the Movement in El Salvador.
Nothing better than eye witness accounts
What better way to learn about the life of the members than by listening to their experiences and testimonies, as the saying goes “words are convincing, but testimonies win over hearts.” For this reason a panel was held with René and Maria Fernanda López, from the Family Branch, Irene Bustamante form the Women’s Branch, Lee Aguiñada from the Young Professionals, Mauricio Salazar, from the Madrugadores and Ana Mercedes Gutiérrez, from the Pilgrim Mother Campaign.
They opened their hearts and shared what they had found in Schoenstatt, experiences that changed their lives, their way of thinking, as a result of self-education, community attachments, the apostolate, a sense of mission, a community of prayer, and ultimately, how much we as Schoenstatters are accustomed to living in our countries and communities, says Patricia Perera, who together with her husband Isidro took up the mission of traveling to El Salvador since 2017 to collaborate with the growth of the movement in that country.
The desire for a shrine
The video of Schoenstatters around the world was very touching, according to Lila Duque, who is part of the first women’s group. It was very important to listen to these encouraging messages from El Salvadoran Schoenstatt members who live abroad; messages from priests and sisters motivating us to continue with the Schoenstatt Work in El Salvador, to know that we are carried by so many contributions to the Capital of Grace, not only for the success of this meeting, but also for the dream that we have carried for so many years, to have our own daughter shrine here.
This was an echo among the participants during the working group session, namely the desire to conquer the shrine in El Salvador. Fr. José Luis Correa stated clearly that for this, it is necessary and fundamentally important that the Family grow, because our source of life needs a united and large family to keep it alive and fertile.
“Queen of the El Salvador Mission”
This workshop allowed the groups to come up with some actions that the family will commit to over the short term: to find headquarters and a home shrine where the family can meet, that will make it easier to hold group meetings and retreats, for the family to make it a habit to celebrate the 18th of each month with Mass and renewing the Covenant of Love, and finally, the need for self-education, to educate future educators needed for the growth of the movement in the country.
Finally, the appointment of the Archdiocesan Council for the Schoenstatt Movement in El Salvador was appointed. They will now have the task of coordinating and leading the actions to pursue for the next two years. Fr. José Luis appointed Lee Aguiñada Bernal, from the young professional group as the Movement’s Archdiocesan Coordinator.
Lee will be supported by Billy and Sylvia Nasser, the leaders of the Family Branch, Mauricio Salazar, the leader of the Madrugadores community, María Eugenia Orellana, the coordinator of the Pilgrim Mother Campaign, and Roxana Tobar, the leader of the Women’s Branch.
At the end of the Meeting, the El Salvadoran family crowned the Blessed Mother as “Queen of the El Salvador Mission.” Fr. José Luis placed the crown on the image of the Auxiliary Pilgrim Mother.
With childlike trust, we place the fruits of this first National Meeting “Schoenstatt El Salvador, Mission of the Founder,” into the hands of our dear Mother and Queen.
Contact: [email protected]
Original: Spanish, 21 May. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa