VATICAN/BRAZIL/SCHOENSTATT.org, Maria Fischer •
Schoenstatt in its second century must be a Schoenstatt that is at the service of the Church and of our brothers on the existential peripheries of the world. Disinterested service. In other words, a kind of “Schoenstatt inside” service that does not seek recognition but wants to share its treasures with everyone. Who looks at a nativity set and speaks about the merit of the Franciscans? Similarly, who will one day speak about Schoenstatt while living out covenant culture in the business world, in politics, in service to the poor, in schools, in the Church itself. Built on the ideals of the 31st of May, this is a Schoenstatt built on the 31st that goes out in missionary services by giving what is best in Schoenstatt for the good of the Church — These thoughts were part of a conversation with Fr. Alexandre Awi late one night in February 2009 during Conference 2014 in February 2009, after his talk on covenant culture. This came to mind today, 31 May, when the Vatican Press Office announced that Fr. Alexandre Awi has been appointed as the Secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Summarised in six words by someone who participated in that late night conversation: “What Brazil loses, the Church gains.”
Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello Isch was appointed today, 31 May 2017, as the secretary of the new Vatican dicastery for laity, family and life. The Brazilian Schoenstatt Father, has therefore, been called to assist Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, who was appointed Prefect of this dicastery on 15 August 2016.
Within the context of the current reforms in the Roman Curia, the recently created Dicastery is responsible, among other things, for issues around youth and family pastoral work, the apostolate of the laity in the church and the world, as well as issues around human life (bioethics, protection of life).
In addition to his formation and training in theology, his postgraduate studies in Mariology and his specialisation in pastoral counselling, he published his most recent book on spiritual direction, The Art of Helping just a few days ago. As the National Director for the Schoenstatt Movement in Brazil, he acquired valuable experience in youth ministry, pastoral work with families and spiritual direction for people in various stages of life, as well as pastoral work with popular piety through his involvement with the Marian shrines. Special highlights include his collaboration with Cardinal Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — during the Fifth Latin American Bishops Conference in Aparecida, Brazil (May 2007) and accompanying Pope Francis during his visit to Brazil in 2013 for the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
Fr. Alexandre Awi spoke about his encounters with Pope Francis in various interviews. The deep mutual love for Mary that they both share became the theme of a book She is my Mother — Pope Francis’ Encounters with Mary, which has already been published in Portuguese, Spanish, and German, and the English translation is in its final stages.
Anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge about how Pope Francis thinks and love, should read this book. Anyone who wants to know more about Fr. Alexandre, the new secretary for the dicastery on laity, family and life, should also read it.
I have a copy of this book in Portuguese, which Fr. Alexandre gave me in 2014 during the Jubilee of the Covenant of Love. He signed it personally with these words:
“May Pope Francis’ testimony strengthen your love for the Blessed Mother even more. With love and gratitude, united in the covenant of love…”
Two years later, I had the great challenge and privilege of translating this book into German. Having given me the Spanish copy (since he knew that my Spanish is much better than my Portuguese), he wrote:
“Let us continue to work together in the covenant for Pope Francis”
What more can we give Fr. Alexandre as he begins his new task at the service of Pope Francis?
Material for Press including photo high resolution: http://schoenstatt-fathers.org/en/news/press/people/alexandre-awi-mello
Original: Spanish. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa