Posted On 2015-11-04 In Connecting Schoenstatters, Covenant solidarity with Francis

One year later…

By Juan Zaforas, Sarah-Leah Pimentel and Maria Fischer •

A year has gone by, making it a good time remember what Pope Francis told us during the meeting with the Schoenstatt Movement on the centenary of its founding. It became one of the main projects that the team began to work on immediately after the audience: to copy, edit, correct, translate, publish the audience text on, as a well-designed pamphlet and as a book and e-book – the latter in collaboration with Nueva Patris, Santiago – to spread and propose ideas on how to work with this text, in which “the Holy Father uses the format of an honest and direct dialogue to give us his vision and expectations of the topics which formed the focus of the experiences and pastoral projects of the jubilee celebrations in Schoenstatt: family life, education, youth evangelization, the church, and a new social order” (Prologue for the book, Fr. José Maria Garcia Sepúlveda).


“Gold dust”

The book, which was published in five languages, is “gold dust,” according to Cristina White from Buenos Aires. Mercedes MacDonough sent it to Cuba and Venezuela with the pilgrim mothers that the people there requested, because the Pilgrim Mother Campaign does not exist in these countries. Others were offered as gifts to bishops – both from within and outside the Movement – parish priests, friends, colleagues. It reached Guatemala and Russia, as well as some Schoenstatt bookshops…from the start it was possible to buy it online through Nueva Patris, and within a few weeks the Schoenstatt centre in Memhölz, Germany made it available through its online shop, making it easier to buy the book in Europe in the five languages.

The Women’s League in Cape Town, South Africa, used the text in most of their group meetings, Gertrud and Nobert Jehle always took a packet of books to their Family Academy meetings, because after working with quotations from the text, “people often ask for the complete text, and then we have it handy.”

The audience books ran out during the celebration of the Cor Ecclesiae Shrine in Rome on 18 October, but Benedicta Schwering had the address for Nueva Patris on hand. Meanwhile a request came from Sicily for 100 books.

In German alone, 610 copies were sold in the one year since the audience.


Francis day-by-day

Mons. Robert Zollitsch, archbishop emeritus of Freiburg, Germany and a member of the Institute of Diocesan Priests of Schoenstatt, shared Pope Francis’ audience with the Schoenstatt Movement during his sermon to pilgrims from Freiburg to Schoenstatt in September, and a Jesuit priest in Zimbabwe surprised the Schoenstatters by quoting from the audience book…that they still didn’t know about it.

Sarah-Leah Pimentel has just published the fourth part of a series of reflections on Pope Francis message, a year after receiving this gift, which is also a task.

For the anniversary of the Audience, the Uruguayan Schoenstatt website opened a “Francis corner” and launched “Francis day-by-day,” (so far only available in Spanish) with more than 50 key phrases from the Holy Father’s message.


Inspired by what Francis told us

“We took up the idea to be missionaries and this year, we hosted to events for all women, irrespective of their background. One was a breakfast for ladies that included all of those extra touches that women love and while they ate, invited speakers spoke about the meaning of women in society today,” commented Sarah-Leah Pimentel. “The second event was a soup and prayer evening in the middle of winter that gave women the opportunity to take a small break from their daily activities to try out different ways of praying. One Catholic woman even brought her non-Catholic friends to the event!

As a result of this, one woman felt the need to do something for single mothers and she is preparing to make her covenant of love and is trying to start a Pilgrim Mother group for single mothers…even though she is struggling to find people who are interested in joining this group. We are helping her, but even so, it is slow progress…”

There are messages and key points that have motivated many: to “waste time” to accompany others – such as visits to prisons or the families in the solidarity houses and old age homes; there are many efforts to do more to prepare couples for marriage; youth missions have been inspired to go out, go out to the peripheries. The Boys’ Youth in Chile reflected on the various urgent topics in society today under the motto: “Boys Youth reaches out.” Fr. Guillermo Carmona, the Movement Director in Argentina, dedicated his covenant letters to a culture of encounter. The call to de-decentre, the dangers of perfect functionalism or the temptation of “figurettis” [people who place themselves at the centre] and “a culture of encounter is covenant culture, and this creates solidarity” – the central phrase of the Holy Father’s message that has become the motto of the website – are all inspirations to continue – in covenant solidarity – with Pope Francis, with the “100 solidarity houses” which now number more than 150…

The Pilgrim Mother Campaign in Cuba is also growing thanks to the reference that Fr. Egon Zillekens made to the Pilgrim Mother that Pope Francis on his nightstand, and which he mentioned at the end of the audience.

Perhaps the strongest testimony of taking up Pope Francis’ message can be found in the answers to questionnaire from 45 Schoenstatters from different countries, generations and vocations. Just about all of them made some reference to the message in the jubilee audience on 25 October.

“From Fr. Kentenich, we received the faith in the Covenant and how we should live it through service to a Church whose vocation is Family, just like we experienced it in the audience with the Holy Father. In faithfulness to our founder, we respond to this gift with a lived ‘dilexit ecclesiam'” (Prologue, Fr. José Maria Garcia)

Tags: centenary, culture of encounter, Francis, Jubilee, audience book, Nueva Patris, Rome

Original: Spanish. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa

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Original: Spanish. Translation. Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa

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