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Posted On 2021-10-25 In Covenant Life

In the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year, Schoenstatt reflects on what it means to be family

ITALY, Marie- Christine Jeannenot and Pamela Fabiano •

On Saturday, October 16, and Sunday, October 17, the XVII National Meeting of the Schoenstatt Movement in Italy took place in the International Schoenstatt Center of Belmonte: a moment rich in events and fellowship based on the theme of the family, in this special year dedicated to the family by the Pope.

On Saturday the 16th eve, participants arrived from several Regions of Italy, but alas not all owing to pandemic restrictions.

In the evening, in an atmosphere of joy and deep spirituailty, space was given to reviewing the facts and themes of the year 2020/2021 pertinent to the society, the Church, and the Movement in Italy.

Thanks to the creativity of the Feminine Youth, with a TV News coverage transmitted in the hall (and in streaming for those connected by remote), the Easter Mission, the “Wardrobe of Katharina” Social Project, the Synod on Synodality, and the upcoming World Meeting of Families of 2022, were presented. A moment of prayer brought the evening to a close.

The next day, upon arriving at the Shrine, everyone was welcomed by Isabella and other volunteers with a magnificent buffet of coffee, donuts and sweets of every kind, with Fr Marcello Cervi himself, the Rector of Belmonte, there to greet all with much cheer… Many participants had arrived from Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Latium. There were also present the Fathers and the Sisters of Mary, the Italian Federation of Families, several guest seminarists of the Mater Ecclesiae College, and many pilgrims of the pilgrim Mother Campaign, without neglecting the many who were connected in streaming ( “distant but in touch” thanks to modern technology).

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A time of crisis but of opportunity as well

Fr. Facundo Bernabei, Director of the Schoenstatt Movement in Italy, greeted and offered blessing to all at the beginning of the meeting, calling to mind the motto of last year that has once again been proposed: “From place to place, from heart to heart,” inspired by the prazer from the booklet “Heavenwards” by Father Kentenich.

Come, Mediatrix of all gifts and graces,
with your Son accept the invitation to be our guests,
tenderly uniting us with a family bond—
from heart to heart and from land to land.

Fr. Facundo invited all of us to reflect on the value of this motto in the present pandemic situation. This is a time of crisis, but of opportunity as well, of change, in which the Lord calls each one of us in order to transform us. “From place to place, from heart to heart” reflects the exhortation of Pope Francis for a Church moving outward rather than closing in upon itself. We are being called to universal brother/sisterhood, as suggested by the encyclical “Fratelli tutti” – All brothers and sisters.

During the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (September 25, 2020) Pope Francis had already underlined how the pandemic urges us “to welcome this time of trial as a time of choice… a time to choose what counts and what simply passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not” because “we cannot live without one another, or even worse, one against the other.”

The pandemic crisis has had strong impact on our lives and on our behaviour (the statistics of Istat on the great drop in marriages, the increased labor and social problems, are well known). The family nucleus in particular has come under threat and is in need of renewal for the good of society itself.

The symbol of the tree of life

Thus, in considering the theme of the day in this manner, Father Facundo evoked the symbol of the tree of life, the seed of which is fertile, grows and develops. The Schoenstatt Movement, like this tree, grows too as a welcoming and open family – thanks to its preparation courses, experiences, groups, apostolic and social initiatives – is this not so? To this question the Director added that the key word in order to produce valid discernment must be unity, while still respecting individual diversity and originality.

Several personal testimonies were offered immediately after these reflections: Giacomo Brunelli and Laura Canzanese shared how Our Lady has brought change to their lives, and how she works within their family. The appointment of praying the Rosary at the Shrine Cor Ecclesiae every Wednesday is for them a very special moment in their life as a couple. Francesca and Paolo Forte spoke of their journey of faith in the company of Mary in their family, in moments of joy as well as difficulty: the recent blessing of the domestic Shrine “of trust and warm welcome” was for them a fortifying and moving experience.

During the celebration of the Eucharist several important symbols for the Movement were present on the altar: the Delta Crown of Belmonte (with the imprints of the diocesan fathers of Schoenstatt), and the logos of the 2021/2023 Synod and of the “Amoris Laetitia Family” year.

After the celebration of the Eucharist, Irene Giannini (of the Tuscany group) made her Covenant of Love as a new missionary, surrounded by family and friends. After lunch, the prayer of the Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration brought the meeting to a close.

As we were able to witness over this weekend of October 16-17, the Schoenstatt Movement in Italy is indeed a family and a beautiful “tree of life” which is growing, united in diversity, just like the mustard seed of which St Mark speaks (Mk 4, 31-32): “It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

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Original: Italian. Translation: Patricia Manson, Roma, Italia

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