HUNGARY, Orsolya Török Endrédy / Maria Fischer •
Today, Covenant Day, June 18, a remembrance of Rita Godany, founder of the Hungarian Schoenstatt Family along with her husband Robert and Father Tilmann Beller, appeared in the Catholic News Portal of Hungary, written by Orsolya Török Endrédy from the Schoenstatt Family Movement. Rita passed away on Sunday, June 6, four years after her husband Róbert. This couple was the dream of Schoenstatt in Hungary personified. —
Rita Gódány, maiden name Rita Gregorich, was born on February 13, 1946 in Horvátzsidány. Her mother prayed to St. Rita that her husband would come back safely from the war, so the newborn little girl was named Rita at her baptism. She is the oldest of three siblings.
Rita studied Hungarian and German in Szeged. In the summer of 1965 she went to Vienna to study languages. There she met Róbert Gódány, who had lived in Vienna since 1956. They married on August 9, 1966.
In Austria she completed her education as a teacher; her family grew, they had five children. The family lived in Vienna until 1980. Then they decided to return to communist Hungary, a little out of homesickness, but above all out of the conviction that they had to work for their country and their people, and not only socially and politically, but because there was something there that they had received not only for themselves. In Vienna, they were involved in the founding of the first Schoenstatt Family group. And they knew: we have to bring this to Hungary. Robert had already become acquainted with Schoenstatt in the early sixties and had gone to Milwaukee in 1962 to meet Father Kentenich. During their conversations, Father Kentenich, who wanted to know Róbert Gódany’s life situation very well, encouraged him and his Hungarian friends to raise awareness of the Covenant of Love, to strengthen it, and to pass it on as a community; in this way they could later take it to Hungary and then further east.
The moment came in 1980. The Gódanys moved to Hungary, to the small village of Óbudavár on Lake Balaton, from prosperity to insecurity. Schoenstatt Father Tilmann Beller visited them regularly in Hungary from then on.
The first Hungarian Schoenstatt Family Group
In 1983, they held the first Hungarian Schoenstatt “group meeting” with two couples from Veszprém. During his regular visits, Father Tilmann gave spiritual assistance, and together with the Gódány couple, he began to build up the Movement and create a network of home shrines. Rita, meanwhile, completed a course as a catechist.
The two organized the first family days, first in their own house and then in several houses in the village, where couples who were in spiritual formation could meet with their children. Their living room was the community’s lecture hall and chapel for ten years. Later, as the Movement grew, they traveled the country, helping to dedicate many home shrines, visiting families and giving talks. During Father Tilmann Beller’s talks, she and Róbert translated the Father’s German words until Father Tilmann learned Hungarian.
In the middle of church
They always maintained good personal relations with the Archdiocese of Veszprém, where they were supported by Archbishops József Szendi and Gyula Márfi.
Together with Robert, they translated into Hungarian the prayers of the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, written in the Dachau concentration camp, which are the essence of Schoenstatt spirituality. Rita could memorize the 25 or so prayers in verse form, with many stanzas, in German and Hungarian.
Life in the Shrine
During Róbert’s illness, Rita nursed and cared for her husband with the greatest love and patience, even during his last months in the hospital. From then on, she spent many hours a day in the Schoenstatt Shrine in Óbudavár, carrying her family (five children and 23 grandchildren) and the entire community in prayer. She met everyone with serenity, personal love and great attention. At the beginning of each Family Week, she asked for the names of the participating families and prayed for them throughout the week.
She was diagnosed with an incurable disease in early March 2021. On June 6, the Lord’s Day, she said goodbye to this world. On June 12, she was buried in the presence of hundreds of families.
In letters of condolence, several leaders of the international Schoenstatt Family, priests and couples expressed their appreciation and condolences. The family, representatives of the community and Sister Gertrud-Maria Erhard, the pastoral leader of the Hungarian Schoenstatt Movement, remembered her in front of the chapel in Óbudavár.
Original: German, 18.06.2021. Translation: Lindsay Burger, Ohio, USA