PUERTO RICO, Rubén Ortiz, Carmen R. Rodríguez, Merie Montalvo, Norma Echevarría, Millie Maldonado •
On Monday, September 4th, the pilgrims gathered early in the morning at the different places to board one of the three buses that would take them to each of the Schoenstatt Shrines in Puerto Rico, the “Island of Enchantment” of the Puerto Ricans (Boricuas) and all those who have made this island their second home. —
The encounter of departure and the history of the pilgrimage to the three shrines
37 years ago, the Schoenstatt Family of Bayamón, Archdiocese of San Juan, organized the first of these pilgrimages. The initiative was born as a response and reparation for the insults of some Protestant brothers and sisters against the Blessed Mother, the Pope, and our Church. It was decided to hold the pilgrimage every year on the first Monday of September, since this is a holiday and most of them do not have to work. This is when the Blessed Mother fulfills her promise of the Covenant of Love to win over youthful hearts. Those who accept her invitation can receive the graces of each shrine. The annual pilgrimage was interrupted only by hurricanes and most recently for three years by the pandemic.
About 150 people attended, adults of all ages and the youngest, a twelve-year-old boy. Many of us did not know each other, some were attending for the first time, others had attended in previous years. We were all united by our love for God and especially for our Mother and Queen. Along the way there was an atmosphere of joy and enthusiasm, especially among those who were visiting the shrines for the first time.
We made our way to the first shrine on our route, the Magnificat Shrine in the northern center of the town of Hatillo. This shrine belongs to the first religious order of Puerto Rican priests, the Slaves of the Eucharist, and the Virgin Mary. Behind the shrine are the remains of its founder, Father Aníbal Reyes Belén.
Father Antonio Portalatín, of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests, president of the National Presidium of Puerto Rico, welcomed us very warmly, ready to celebrate Holy Mass in the parish of “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe”, which is adjacent to the Shrine. Strengthened by the Eucharist, we made our way to the Throne of Grace of the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt. The steep climb was worth it when at the end of the path we saw the beauty of the Magnificat Shrine and the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar. The eagerness and emotion of everyone was clearly felt, both by the regular visitors and by the pilgrims who came here for the first time. They laid down their “capital of grace” and left their petitions, intentions, and prayers. Some had a few more minutes to go to the small store with religious articles, others to drink their morning coffee and enjoy some typical delicacies of our island, accompanied by the magic of the mountains and the singing of the birds.
Motorcyclists with the Blessed Mother
To fulfill the program of the pilgrimage, God the Father and the Blessed Mother blessed us with our brothers and sisters of the Missionary Motorcyclists who accompanied the buses and showed the way on the roads that connect the shrines. They not only cleared the way, but they also made sure that the 150 pilgrims kept to the schedule, they saw who needed help to get to the shrines, they took photos, recorded conversations, evangelized….
Edgardo L. Rivera, the founder of the group, told us, “It is typical for the Missionary Motorcyclists of Puerto Rico to visit the three shrines in one day, as part of the Jubilee celebration. We call this pilgrimage ‘The Triple Crown.’ However, this year was different. Our great Father God and the Blessed Mother wanted us to join our brothers and sisters from the Family of Bayamón. Among the graces received was the confirmation of the special bond that exists between Fr. Portalatin and us. It was definitely a great day filled with graces.”
Shrine of Solidarity
We continued to Cabo Rojo in the southwest of the island, praying the rosary, informing about the Covenant of Love, Father Joseph Kentenich, the graces of the Shrine, the Home Shrine, singing and praising our MTA and the good Father God. When we arrived at our National Schoenstatt Shrine, the Shrine of “Solidarity,” a heart in the Father, we were welcomed by the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary with a delicious lunch for everyone. Sister Margarite Rodriguez delighted us all with her guitar and songs and then gave a talk about Schoenstatt and our Father and Founder. The pilgrims were able to pray in the Shrine accompanied by the Sisters, visit the Father Kentenich Memorial, walk around, and enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of the southwest coast and the Caribbean Sea. With the warning whistle of the motorcyclists indicating that it was time to leave, we all said goodbye to our Mother Thrice Admirable and drove to the third shrine and our final destination.
Cenacle Shrine of the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer
We enjoyed the bus ride together and arrived at the Shrine “Cenacle of the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer” in the south of the island, in the town of Juana Díaz. This shrine belongs to the Institute of the Schoenstatt Diocesan Fathers and is the diocesan shrine of the Schoenstatt Family of the Diocese of Ponce. There, the local Schoenstatt Family welcomed us with great joy with flags, delicious coffee, refreshments, and snacks for everyone. The MTA awaited us in the shrine with the exposed Savior in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. There was praise and adoration of our Lord followed by the solemn blessing by Father Portalatin. The pilgrims made their last purchases in the small store there and enjoyed the view of the Caribbean Sea and the central mountain range of our beloved island.
Abundant graces and gifts….
The Blessed Mother blessed us with her graces in a wonderful way. We had the grace to see how the Apostolic World Federation manifested itself so very simply. More than ten parishes and chapels were represented. Some pilgrims came from different cities, responding to the call of the invitation they received through the various social media, which even reached the United States. Other pilgrims belonged to different movements and charisms within the Catholic Church. A group of people (even a whole family, spouses, and children) registered their interest in preparing to seal the Covenant of Love with the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt. As Fr. Kentenich said, “may many, many seal the Covenant of Love.” The Covenant of Love will be the unity between the apostles of the different movements within the Church.
Dear Mother, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt, dear Father, and Founder, receive our love and gratitude!
Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org