ARGENTINA, Claudia Echenique •
A week earlier, some Schoenstatt Fathers from the Father Region announced on social media that they were on their way to Florencio Varela, they had arrived after the summer conferences and missions, they were beginning the annual conference, and especially after the pandemic, they were all together again praying around Father’s Sion Shrine. Some traveled many kilometers from Paraguay, Nigeria, Italy, Germany, and from the different branches in Argentina. —
On Sunday, February 19th, it was a joy to see 26 Schoenstatt Fathers celebrating the 29th Anniversary of the blessing of the Sion Shrine, along with all those who came to Florencio Varela and those who followed the transmission on YouTube.
The Eucharistic celebration was presided by the Regional Superior, Father Tommy Nin Mitchel. He welcomed everyone and stressed that it was a good tradition “to celebrate with so many people who love us, help us, are united by friendship, family and community.”
He also announced (as in the “announcements” at the end of the Sunday Mass) the news of the community for the year 2023, which were so numerous that we made it a separate article.
The saint of daily life, the saint next door
Father Juan Pablo Catoggio gave the homily, emphasizing the call to holiness from the readings of the 7th Sunday of the cycle (Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 and Matthew 5:38-48). The Old Testament says, “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy,” and Jesus updates and says, “Be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect.” He sets a goal for us in life that is not exactly small, that can even discourage us at times because we feel it is too big for us.
The path to holiness is little spoken of, and when it is, it is spoken of as something distant and belonging to the saints of the Church whose lives we read. We imagine that holiness is achieved by champions, by titans who perform heroic deeds and accomplish extraordinary things. And the Church speaks to us of a universal vocation to holiness.
What is this ideal of holiness all about? First and foremost, we are saints, not because of what we do, big or small, but because Jesus sanctified us by giving his life. Holiness is the free gift of God, His grace in our lives.
In Schoenstatt, we speak of the “every day saint,” as Father Joseph Kentenich called it. It is about living our lives in the power of grace that permeates us so that it reaches others. Pope Francis speaks of the “saint next door,” “the saint, my neighbor,” who does not stand out and goes unnoticed.
Love, the perfection of love is the key to this difference. It is the everyday saint who does everything every day, studies, works, goes home to his family, is with his friends… But he does everything differently because he does it with the greatest love.
What does Schoenstatt offer us so that we can reach this holiness?
And this “plus” in Schoenstatt we express with the very precise word that Father Kentenich used: Magnanimity. It means: don’t do the least, do the most you can; don’t be satisfied with the little, but try to give as much as you can. More and more. It’s not about being perfect or infallible, it’s about falling down and getting back up, but always giving “a little more,” as João Pozzobon used to say.
The Blessed Mother in the shrine wants to educate us in this holiness of daily life, she wants to form holy men, women, families, children, and youth, she wants to form Jesus in our lives. She gives us the three graces, but she adds them to us, she invites us to live this vocation that we have received, trusting that the Blessed Mother and her Son Jesus are the ones who achieve it in us. She invites us to a Covenant of Love.
The Shrine and very soon the Chapel
Father Beltrán Gómez was in charge of the sound and Charles, one of the Nigerian students, took charge of the transmission via YouTube so that people from many places in Argentina and beyond could accompany the Fathers on this new anniversary of the Shrine.
Father Oscar Saldívar shared that the Paraguayan delegation traveled to Florencio Varela to meet with the entire Father Region community at the Sion Shrine. “There we renewed ourselves as priests of the shrine, the place where our heart is anchored,” he said.
Father Pancho Bosch reported on the progress of the construction of the “San José” chapel in an area of the entrance to the grounds, which will allow celebrations and activities with the families of the neighborhood in a larger space than the shrine.
A group of Sisters of Mary from Nuevo Schoenstatt, including Sister Maria Teresa, who returned from Germany after 15 years, also participated.
After Mass, the Fathers stayed for a long time under the trees around the shrine to greet and chat. For most of those who live in the greater Buenos Aires area, there are few opportunities throughout the year to see the Fathers and especially so many of them.
Sion Feast: time for encounters, time for dialogue
Later, lunch was organized by the family from La Plata on the grounds of the Joseph Engling House, located on the same grounds, 300 meters from the shrine. There, the classic “choripanes”, hamburgers, ice cream and cakes were offered, although this year it was new that there was a vegetarian and a celiac food option.
The day was gorgeous, perfect for being outside, and conversations continued in small groups. The Fathers also came along to celebrate with the family. Sion Feast is a time of reunion at the beginning of the year, after summer vacation and before work and school begin.
May there be Schoenstatt Fathers…for a long time!
At 3:30 p.m., we returned to the Shrine for Eucharistic Adoration led by Father Juan Molina, in which we not only expressed our gratitude, but above all, we prayed for priestly and religious vocations.
During the farewell, the rector of the house, Father José María Iturrería, thanked “those who were present for the first time at this celebration and those who have accompanied us every February for many years. Since before the pandemic, we have not been able to gather all the Fathers of the Region in this way; the last time was in February 2020. It gives us great joy to meet as a Sion community and also with you, because our lives are at your service. We are deeply grateful for the fidelity, the accompaniment, the spiritual, fraternal and financial support that you give us, but above all we are grateful because they make us feel like a family, which is very important and which really strengthens our vocation. And continue to pray for us, because our vocation is sustained by our prayer to Jesus and your prayer for us, which makes it possible that there will continue to be Schoenstatt Fathers. We dream that there will be Schoenstatt Fathers…and for a long time!”.
Recording of the Holy Mass
Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org