WYD 2019, COSTA RICA, Maria Fischer •
On that sunny morning filled with people hurrying serenely to get everything ready for the arrival of 600 young people to the Family of Hope Shrine in Santa Ana, San José, the “pure life” of joy, anticipation, and commitment is felt. Some young volunteers have already been here for a few weeks and several couples are preparing the house to welcome the young people to come. At the same time, the place is filled with the usual participants of two Sunday Masses: One for children and the other “normal” one, as Fr. José Luis Correa calls it.—
A very young Church in the Children’s Mass
“Are you from Santa Ana?” Michelle Ramirez asked a lady looking for refuge in the shade of the trees in front of the shrine who had some toys in her hands. “Yes,” she answered, “My little girl likes the Children’s Mass in this chapel so much that now we come every Sunday.” A madrugador, a young grandfather, greeted Derek Monturiol, who is also a madrugador and who belongs to the Family Federation. He and his grandson have been coming to the Shrine every Sunday for some time for the Children’s Mass. He began as a madrugador, and now his grandson sings in the choir for the Children’s Mass, and sometimes the entire family comes.”
It’s vacation time in Costa Rica, so there aren’t as many children as usual, and the choir is missing some of its key members, but the smaller singers, supported by guitar and keyboard, joyfully and bravely accompany the Mass. Fr. Andrés, a Chilean Schoenstatt Father who had been in Mexico for thirteen years now is in Costa Rica to prepare the IGNIS meeting of the Young Men’s Youth, celebrated the Mass. The children take a leading role in their Mass that brings more and more neighbors from Santa Ana to the Shrine.
“We are a small Movement in Costa Rica, with just 1,500 people in groups, and we have always known everyone. That is no longer the case,” Cata Cabezas, from the Family Federation related. “Now when we go to the shrine, there are many unfamiliar faces. The shrine has helped us so much, the Blessed Mother really has been drawing hearts to the shrine.”
Everything is ready for the days prior to WYD
A shrine that is barely 2 years old, a recently added Fr. Kentenich statue, sunny, green grounds, a house with lots of room to stay and meet: everything is ready, and just in time to give a heart, a center, a home and a place of apostolic sending forth to the hundreds of Schoenstatt young people and of all from the Church that will arrive this week and then continue on to Panama. “The map of the shrines on schoenstatt.org with all the world’s shrines with the World Youth Day logo touched me greatly,” commented a woman from the Family Federation. “I cannot stop thinking that the Original Shrine presently is closed for renovations, and our shrine assumes the role of Schoenstatt’s heart at this time…”
As soon as the children, parents, and grandparents heard the announcement that they have to be very punctual in arriving, even more so when they leave next Sunday, and in arriving they should walk, park further away, or take a cab, the participants for Sunday’s “normal” Mass begin to arrive. It seemed like the entire Movement was here. While Isidro Pereira asked me for help in reaching people from El Salvador, since they will have the first National Gathering there in a few months, Marcelo Alfonso approached. More than twenty years ago he received a Pilgrim Mother from the hands of Fr. Esteban Uriburu with a mission to found Schoenstatt in Costa Rica – with everything and the Founding Document drafted in a hotel near the airport. Along with a few more couples, we started to meet and to create what today is a vibrant Movement, full of life, that goes out to neighboring countries to help in the founding process.
The entire Costa Rica Family’s in WYD mode
No one is present without being part of the activities at the service of the young people, here in the shrine or in the activities of the Schoenstatt Young Men and Young Women’s Youth that are developing in other nearby places.
It is something that is already understood about the Costa Rican Movement, a part of its identity: the whole Family places itself at the service of activities or needs of a Branch or a project. Even more, they make it their own, as a family, so much so that they commit themselves. What belongs to everyone is really everyone’s.
For this Youth Week, there are many commissions, each one is in charge of an essential element, be it lodging youth, priests, and sisters who accompany them, the food and coffee given to each person as they arrive, and so many more details that need to be done and that they want to do to so that each one of the youths, either Schoenstatt or not, will feel welcome or simply feel taken care of. And the best thing: The youths as well as the Costa Rican family couples enjoy it fully
It is a Family of Hope.
Original: Spanish. 14 January 2019. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA