Posted On 2016-08-01 In Projects

On the Move with Trust in GOD

GERMANY, By Maria Fischer •

Cologne on “Sunday, the only 31 July 2016, the day that will never be repeated”, the good-humoured train driver of the Rhein-Sieg Express announced at 12.23 p.m. to help his passengers get over their frustration because of the delay. “If we trust in God we will still catch the connecting train in Siegen.” At that moment those taking part in the pilgrimage on foot with “Trust in God” had been walking for more than an hour through heavy showers of rain through Cologne towards Brühl …


31 July: Cologne police on high alert

Since the early morning Cologne had been on high security alert. The Cathedral Square had more police than tourists, water cannon and ambulances were in readiness, and the streets and metro were closed. It was the day when a mass demonstration against the military coup in Turkey, along with countless protest demonstrations from groups on the political right and left, were expected. So the delayed arrival at the Schoenstatt shrine in Cologne included some experience of high security measures. The sound of hymns could be heard from the Elendskirche, but the entrance was locked, as was the side door to the church. The luggage of the pilgrims had been left in the quadrangle, hence the security measures. Thanks to Whatsapp and an unlocked mobile phone the gate was finally opened, but …

The locked gate, however, was the only thing that Sunday morning that remained of the uneasy feeling forming in the initiators of the project “Trust in God” when the mass demonstration was announced to take place on the long-planned day on which they were to set off on pilgrimage. The pilgrims met joyfully at the shrine in Cologne after strengthening themselves with a good breakfast. God could not have indicated more clearly the topicality of “Trust in GOD” than through the huge police presence on this day in a country still marked by the shocks of the terrorist attacks of the previous weeks. God often speaks through events. Sometimes he shouts.


31 July: Conclusion of World Youth Day

On the threshold of the Elendskirche it is still possible to see five somewhat faded yellow stars, and in the shrine the light with the symbol of the World Youth Day 2005 was still burning. In 2005 this shrine was the “Schoenstatt Centre” in the truest sense of the word for the youth who had come to the World Youth Day in Cologne. You can still see traces of it. At precisely the time the pilgrims gathered there on foot to be sent out on their way, Pope Francis was on the Campus Misericordiae near Cracow, with 1.5 million young people for the Holy Mass sending them out from the 31st World Youth Day. He told them: “Today’s Gospel speaks to us of just such a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jericho (cf. Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, he passed through the city (v. 1).  In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that his life and our life can truly meet.”

After an extensive introduction in the Elendskirche, in which fifty years before Fr Kentenich had surprised the Cologne Schoenstatt Family by entering into a “covenant of love with God the Father” on behalf of the whole Schoenstatt Family, the pilgrims set off to do precisely that: to walk through the city in order to carry this covenant with the merciful Father onto the streets and to the people they would meet along the way; to encounter Jesus on the way, and to encounter Jesus in the parishes in which they were to be the guests that week.


Core Team

31 July: Encounter through trust in God

At the end of the introduction, Fr Joachim Gayko – who had been asked at short notice to do so by Fr Hans Schnocks – blessed the pilgrims individually. On the move with God’s blessing, on the move while trusting in God, this colourful and varied group of pensioners, families, children and individuals, would mingle with one another in the course of their pilgrimage, until at the end they would arrive for Holy Mass in the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt that coming Saturday.

Three years of intensive preparation lay behind the members of the core team and many other teams when they set off briskly at exactly 11 a.m. Fr Gayko also set off quickly to his next appointment. The member of, who had only seen him from the church door dared with trust in God to wave to him and greet him, “Are you Fr Gayko?” Almost fifteen years before he had taken his first pastoral steps as a deacon and newly ordained priest in the parish of her brother, and the contact had remained. It was him, and although both were in a hurry to leave Cologne, they spent a few minutes together. The pilgrimage had started.


Fr. Joachim Gayko


More on the contents, ideas and development of “Trust in GOD”: (german)

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1 Responses

  1. Sarah-Leah Pimentel says:

    This article brought tears to my eyes. The article says that a candle with the World Youth Day symbol was burning in the shrine. And then I saw the photograph. It was not the symbol of WYD2016, it was the symbol of WYD2005, which took place in Cologne, Germany that year. The motto that year was “We have come to worship him.” And the five stars that greeted the young people who came to Cologne that year are still there.

    The faded stars probably sum up that entire year. You see, I was a volunteer in Schoenstatt to prepare for the Youth Festival, a gathering of the International Schoenstatt Youth before we all joined the rest of the Catholic youth of the world to celebrate the World Youth Day with Pope Benedict in Cologne. As volunteers we made contributions to the capital of grace and each contribution became a star. Those stars filled three large stars and those became a crown that we crowned our MTA as the Queen of the Youth of the World.

    And so, eleven years later, the faded stars still are still a testimony to that incredible moment that marked the lives of thousands of Schoenstatt youth, and especially marked the lives of twenty young people from eight different countries. They gave a year of their lives, so that others would be able to come and testify that yes, this is our God, this is our faith. The 2005 WYD symbol still burns in the Schoenstatt shrine at Cologne. The Blessed Mother is STILL the Queen of the Youth of the World!

    Everything we do leaves its mark. And the impact of our acts of faith, great or small, live on even after we have forgotten them. Eleven years ago we stood with our flags and our songs and our joy in Cologne to celebrate our diverse cultures. This year Cologne entered the new year witnessing acts of intolerance and fear.

    Today Germany, Europe, the world need to remember that unless we can reach out in greater solidarity, and open the doors of our churches and the doors of our hearts, our flags will stand as a sign of division instead of a symbol of unity.

    This is why WYD2016 sent a strong message to the world. The young people said: we are not afraid. We will come to worship, but we will do more than that. We will worship by building bridges. We will worship by encountering a stranger who becomes a friend. In a few days, there will be nothing left in Campus Misercordiae that reveals that more than 1.5 million people gathered to worship and to pray for a world that is more merciful.
    But who knows, maybe ten or eleven years from now, someone will find some small symbol left buried beneath the ground..and they will remember that in this place, young people once built a bridge in a world of walls.

    Grace for the world.

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