GERMANY, Memholz, Maria Fischer •
“Much that we start here is something Schoenstatt has done for a long time”, Auxiliary Bishop Florian Wörner remarked after the introductory round in the afternoon of 18 May in the large hall of the Schoenstatt Centre in Memholz. It was after 33 members of the Schoenstatt Movement had introduced themselves and what they were doing. Auxiliary Bishop Wörner of Augsburg is the director of the Institute for New Evangelisation in the diocese, so his reaction was more than a nice summary or praise, but a practical request for collaboration.
In much the same way as with the “Misiones”, after the Schoenstatt Youth had carried it out twice in Dillingen in the Augusburg Diocese, and Auxiliary Bishop Wörner had got to know about it, he asked for more information from Fr Frank Riedel and the youth. He then initiated missionary weeks in the diocese that took their bearings from the “Misiones”. Individual Schoenstatters supported the initiative, as did the young people from the “Basical”, a time of spiritual orientation also initiated by the diocese. As the Bishop reported, these missionary weeks bring life into the parishes. “There was joyful expectation that the young people would be coming and ringing their doorbells”, he said when relating the reaction of the people in Voringen. “The people asked each other in the street: Will they also come to us?” Or, a man who had previously been sceptical when his wife told him about the missionary visit of the youth, later said during a men’s group meeting: We have to bring our faith more actively into our lives. Auxiliary Bishop Wörner now dreams of having such missions in the thousand parishes in the diocese “so that we manage flip the switch and embrace Christ.” And, “We thank Schoenstatt for this idea.”
“We are no longer looking for recognition, what matters is work”
Some in the hall were simply fascinated, others were lost for words, because they realised that they found themselves unexpectedly in the process of 31 May 1949 – Fr Kentenich’s longing, after years of trying things out, of growth and standing the test, to be able to offer the Church what had grown in Schoenstatt, his laboratory. Then, after working in the world, Schoenstatt had proved the genuineness of its life. At that time, 1949, the Church and Schoenstatt hadn’t reached this point. Then for a long time there was the struggle for the Church to recognise Schoenstatt. As they prepared for the Jubilee, the wish had broken through anew and with greater force to place the fruits of the covenant of love at the service of the Church with humility and gratitude. Now, on this 18th May, the Bishop appears and openly asks for it!
And all of this in the five fields of the covenant culture that the 2014 Conference had observed and defined, and that Gertrud and Norbert Jehle had chosen as the golden threads for introducing Schoenstatt’s work: Marriage and the family, youth, church, society and pedagogy.
It is easier to say what Schoenstatt does, than to explain how it works with the Federations, Institutes and League communities, with inspiration, dependence and community life. After that afternoon no one needed to emphasise this point, nor that stories are easier to remember than fundamental theories.
Auxiliary Bishop Wörner enlarged in particular on the differentiation in the family pastorate, which he called “enriching and important”. “The longer people live, especially also in marriage, the more we have to do.”
During a buffet meal, Auxiliary Bishop Wörner and Andreas Theurer, one of his aides who had accompanied him to this meeting, spent quite some time asking questions. Fr Buchenberg of Waltenhofen thanked for the pastoral work done by Fr Leonhard Erhard at the Schoenstatt Centre in his retirement, and at a bar table some Schoenstatters discussed how this event and its request for co-operation could be put into practice. We were no longer looking for recognition, what mattered was to set to work. The Auxiliary Bishop expected something of Schoenstatt, here in the diocese, here and now!
Covenant celebration during the Pentecost Novena
Outside the shrine many people were waiting for the Auxiliary Bishop, who was to join us in the covenant celebration and Pentecost novena. Right at the beginning he expressed his joy at being present.
After an introduction by Fr Leonhard Erhard, an extract from Pope Francis’ message to the Schoenstatt Movement during the Jubilee Audience on 25 October, was read.
His message on the subject of the family was then taken up by Auxiliary Bishop Wörner at the start of his address. He then moved on to the picture of Our Lady, the Untier of Knots. This picture of grace in the Catholic pilgrimage church of St Peter at Perlach in Augsburg is the object of Pope Francis’ special devotion. He took copies of the picture to Argentina and there spread the devotion. In the church of San José in Buenos Aires hundreds of people visit the picture every day and are convinced that our Blessed Mother can make the impossible possible, that she works amazing things. Bishop Wörner went on to say that in the covenant with her we can in faith become more able to assimilate information, more able to speak, to see the Church as the Family of God and offer a new home to people. In this way we can apply the Gospel to life day after day and make Jesus’ lifestyle our own while bearing witness to him through our deeds. Once again he referred to the Pope’s message, which had obviously appealed to him, as he encouraged us to create a Church that offers a home, one in which there are no orphans and little loneliness, because the Mother of all of us is there.
Audience Books for the Bishop
So his surprise and joy was great when Sr Ingrid-Maria gave him some copies of the Audience Book – one for himself and the others for his aides. Over 500 copies in German have already been sold since the beginning of the year, and between 200-400 in the other four languages in which the book has been published– in Spanish it is about 1500 copies. It is almost certain that except for our Schoenstatt Bishops Pistilli, Zollitsch, Gerber …) Bishop Wörner is the first bishop to receive a gift of this book – a joy and confirmation to all who had this crazy idea to “give away” the message of Pope Francis as a book.
As usual the slips of paper with their contributions to the capital of grace were handed in by those present – so that the Blessed Mother can repeatedly make the impossible possible from here and untie knots. After the slips of paper had been collected, they were burnt during the Covenant celebration – and the Bishop and his aide joined in. Since nature and grace are connected, refreshments were offered at the end … and sometime, long after it had grown dark, those who had a long drive home tore themselves away and set off, and someone remarked in amazement: “The Auxiliary Bishop is still here …”
|May 22, 2015 – Memhölz|