Maria Fischer •
At the end of September Fr Dr Michael Joh. Marmann celebrated his eightieth birthday in Schoenstatt with many who had accompanied him on his path through life – as a Schoenstatt Father, as Leader of the Schoenstatt Movement in Germany when it entered into the covenant of love for our people, as well as the year when we commemorated Fr Kentenich’s hundredth birthday. He saw the re-unification of Germany (“God acts in our history”), and was Superior General of the Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers and Chairman of the General Presidium. He was the pioneer opening Schoenstatt for ecumenism and the initiative “Together for Europe”. Finally he was the Rector of the Original Shrine when, after years of prayer and sacrifice and negotiations, and “almost believing it would never happen”, it was given to us so unexpectedly, just like the fall of “The Wall” almost two decades before.
Fr Juan Pablo Catoggio, Superior General of the Schoenstatt Fathers, wrote about him: “God gave you – as Pope Francis says of himself – ‘santa inconsciencia’, that is, ‘holy light-heartedness’, but also trusting daring.”
Spotlights on Aspects of his Life
Four confreres in his house community in Munich have complied a commemorative publication. Apart from greetings from Fr Juan Pablo Catoggio, Fr Heinrich Walter and Fr Theo Breitinger, it contains some writings and texts by Fr Marmann, “spotlights on aspects of his life”, as the authors put it.
In it the spotlight is turned on core objectives of Fr Marmann: How important Mary is to him, what meeting Fr Kentenich meant to him, God’s actions in our history and ecumenism, the collaboration of the movements with one another and with the Popes, and also his theological concern with nature and grace.
What can we write in a brief article about Fr Marmann, a person with such a sweeping breadth of vision and action? Something about openness and opening …
A statement immediately after his appointment as Rector of the Original Shrine:
“For me the Original Shrine, far more than all the Schoenstatt shrines all over the world, is ‘a shrine for everyone’. Of course, for all national Schoenstatt Families all over the world. But also for people of every background and walk of life who come here. This shrine has to be open for them all, and all have to feel addressed in their way. That is a great concern for me. The Original Shrine and its mission means really being there for everyone. Fr Kentenich said on 18 October 1914 that he wanted to make this place a place of pilgrimage, a place of grace, that would have an effect far beyond those who used it at that time. He extended this conviction with his famous statement about the shadow of the shrine in which the destiny of the Church would be essentially co-decided for centuries. In the meantime this dimension has become concrete. The Original Shrine is actually an international shrine that has a very clear international dimension through the many daughter shrines, and I am sure he would say that we have to do it justice in some way here. I hope that through the catch-word ‘shrine for everyone’ this is also to some extent guaranteed. According to our Founder’s vision, Schoenstatt has to see to it that there is a new Christian social order. This goal, which began in this Original Shrine, is directed not only to Christian communities, or the Catholic Church, which naturally suggests itself, but in fact to the whole world. When the Council came to an end in Rome, Fr Kentenich said on 8 December 1965, that he had always seen the Church as ‘the soul of the present-day world culture’. The Church acts as yeast for the whole world, and Schoenstatt tries to serve it from the Original Shrine.” (Source: schoenstatt.de, March 2012)
In the commemorative publication, which he gave me, he wrote a dedication:
“United in the effort to open Schoenstatt for the world today”.
Warm congratulations, Fr Marmann!
Original: German, 13.10.2017. Translation: Mary Cole, Manchester, England