BRAZIL, Schoenstatt Fathers and Editorial Team •
He departed for the Father’s House on 27 March at 2:30 pm with forty-five years of priesthood given to the Church through the Schoenstatt Work. Fr. Ottomar Schneider died at age 82 with the rosary in hand, praying the decades in the presence of his community brothers from the Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers. —
Upon celebrating forty years of priesthood a few years ago Fr. Ottomar Schneider affirmed:
“I am a happy priest. I have never regretted for one second in taking this path of service to the Church of Christ in the Schoenstatt Family. If the God of Life and History asked me, I would do it again and with the same commitment to my brothers in the faith and mission.”
He was born on 26 January 1936, in the community of São José, in the current municipality of Salvador das Missões in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil His parents, Silvestre and Maria Amália Lunkes Schneider were farmers that were deeply religious. He was baptized in the Cerro Largo Holy Family Parish shortly after his birth. He spent his childhood and learned his first letters in the Santa Inês neighborhood of São Luiz Gonzaga…His five younger siblings were also born there.
The strong call to the priesthood
At the age of 14, he was attracted to the congregation of Marists Brothers, and he entered the Juvenato (minor seminary) of Bom Principio, RS. He went to college at the Juvenato Champagnat, in the Partenon neighborhood of Porto Alegre. He completed the Marist novitiate in Passo Fundo, RS, where he learned about the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement’s pedagogy and spirituality.
He taught in Marists schools in Erexim, Uruguaiana, and Santo Ângelo, all in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. In 1964, Fr. Ottomar founded the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement in Santo Ângelo. Today the Diocese of Santo Ângelo has a Shrine of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt.
Feeling the strong call to the priesthood that accompanied him since childhood, he decided to listen to God’s voice. He asked to be dispensed from the Marist community so he could enter the newly founded Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers. He had the grace of being welcomed personally by Fr. Joseph Kentenich, who told him then: “Even if you become a Schoenstatt Father, your mission in the Marist Brothers remains!”
Father Ottomar Schneider, a Schoenstatt apostle in Brazil
In 1969, he did another novitiate with his course brothers from Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, and Brazil close to the Original Shrine of Schoenstatt, in Vallendar, Germany. Then Fr. Ottomar studied theology at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, that granted him a Theological Degree. Bishop Heinrich Tenhumberg, then auxiliary bishop of Münster, ordained him as a Deacon; he returned to Brazil
On 7 October 1972, in the Salvador de Misiones Chapel, the first bishop of the Diocese of Ângelo, Bishop Aloísio Lorscheider, later a cardinal, ordained him as a priest in the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers.
He worked in São Paulo, Londrina, and Santa Maria as a Schoenstatt Father. In addition, he served as adviser to several Branches and as regional and national director of the Movement, Family Federation and the Federation of Diocesan Priests’ assistant, rector of the Schoenstatt Fathers in Santa Maria and Londrina’s filial houses, and as Tabor’s magazine director for several years.
“I wish this happiness I experience everyday of my priesthood to many young men”
“After 45 years of priesthood, at the service of the Schoenstatt Family and of the Church, I must confess that I am a happy priest.
During this entire time, I never had a doubt about my call to the priesthood as a Schoenstatt Father. I feel grateful to be an instrument in the hands of our Mother and Queen of Schoenstatt, at the service of so many people to whom I could give my Marian pastoral help.
I wish that happiness I experience everyday of my priesthood to many young men. I offer my daily celebration of the Eucharistic for this intention. May the Mother of God attract many young men to the service of the Church and the Schoenstatt Family, following our Father and Founder Fr. Joseph Kentenich. I learned to be a happy priest from him.”
Fr. Ottomar Schneider, 2017
Original: Portuguese. 29 March 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA