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Apostolic Movement

16 Latin American youth live a unique experience in Schoenstatt

16 boys and 2 priests from Latin America have packed their bags and embarked on several special days full of adventure in Schoenstatt, Germany. From December the 27th to January the 28th, the 2024th edition of the International School for Schoenstatt Boys’ Youth Leaders is taking place.

Father Afonso Wosny, from Brazil, and Father Claudio Martinez, from Chile, are accompanying the young leaders from seven countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Paraguay.

Who are the young men?

They are:

From Argentina: Agustín Ossés and Benjamín Álvarez.
From Bolivia: Adrián Bettancourt
From Brazil: Davi Gimenez, Gabriel Lenharo, Nicolas Fachini and Pedro Bastos.
From Chile: Ignacio Villanueva and Victor Leal.
From Costa Rica: David Corrales, Ian Cunningham and Santiago Pontijo.
From Mexico: Bernardo Torreblanca and Sebastián Prado.
And from Paraguay: Diego Aquino and Matías Gómez.

Forging leaders

One of the main objectives of the school is to immerse the participants in Schoenstatt’s history. It also aims to develop aspects of leadership and apply Father Kentenich’s pedagogy to the leaders’ lives.

Ian is the leader of the university students in the western sector of Costa Rica and shares that “this experience in the School of Leaders has been very renewing and inspiring for me, for my bond with Father Kentenich, with the Movement and with all the legacy he has left us. We can live this history in our own flesh, embodied in each of the activities and historical places we visited. It is definitely an experience that influences us as leaders in the best possible way.”

A personal encounter with others

To get to know the Original Shrine, to visit places that have marked Schoenstatt’s history, to have contact with representatives of the different communities…. Everything is planned so that they will be special days of unity, joy, and exchanges.

Nicolás, from Brazil, says that these days are truly an encounter: ” First of all with the three points of contact, Mary, Father Kentenich and the Shrine, absorbing directly from the source of the charism and learning from the people who lived the history”. And not only that. He adds: ” Getting to know different cultures and languages opens our hearts to other realities in the world. Besides the international experience, such as the national theme nights and trips to places that mark Schoenstatt’s history, we have the spiritual experience with daily Masses, adoration and prayers. The encounter is also personal, the encounter with myself and with others”, he closes.

Getting to know the wide universe of Schoenstatt

The youth experienced a snow-white Original Shrine, with cold everywhere, but at the same time, with a warm, welcoming and incomparable atmosphere. In addition to the historic places and the Shrine, they also visited the center of different Schoenstatt communities: the families, the priests, and those who are consecrated…

Bernardo, from Mexico, mentioned that “being here at the School for Leaders is a gift from God, from the Blessed Mother. They are experiences full of friendship, of the Blessed Mother’s gifts in every situation. We have been able to learn about and experience many historic moments of Schoenstatt. We also learned about our different branches and what Schoenstatt is from an international perspective. It is an excellent time of personal enrichment, which we want now to transmit to everyone,” he remarked.

Taking the fire of the Covenant to the world

For Gabriel, from Brazil, it took days before he “realized” that he was really in Schoenstatt. “It doesn’t seem like reality to be fulfilling the dream of experiencing the heart of the Movement,” he commented. “Something as important as this was, a place as holy as this. It’s very hard to imagine actually being here. It’s a wonderful thing, a great feeling of happiness, of gratitude, of feeling at home.”

The desire of all the youth who experience such special days is to share everything with their friends and mates from the Boys’ Youth. “At the beginning, you are a little worried: how to get here, what it is going to be like…. But when you arrive, you know you are at home,” Gabriel continues. “When you look at the image of the Blessed Mother, you know that indeed, you are welcome here, that you are sheltered. The school is like the three graces of the Shrine: we leave here transformed, ready to take this to other people, through formation, but much more, through our attitudes. May our attitudes be motivated by this place, by the many heroes who passed through here. It is very satisfying, very remarkable. It is also an honor to be able to take this to other people,” he concludes.


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