50th Anniversary Celebration of the Family Shrine in Schoenstatt
A joyful and eager congregation gathered on the afternoon of September 18 in front of the Family Shrine, which was built 50 years ago by numerous families and inaugurated by Fr. Kentenich's disciples, Father Menningen and Father Tick, on September 19, 1971.
September 29, 2021
About 100 people gathered in front of the Family Shrine on the afternoon of September 18th for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of its blessing. Many people from all over the world, some with their families – more than 800 views – were able to join the celebration via www.schoenstatt-tv.de. The Mass included several parts spoken in different languages.
Back in 1971, many families from the different family communities of the Schoenstatt Movement were involved in the process of preparing the spiritual foundation, in the financial contribution and in the challenges present for the construction of the chapel in the Ferbachtal valley, at the foot of the mountain that the Schoenstatt Movement calls Mount Nazareth, in Vallendar.
Roman and Simone Gehring, from Switzerland, carried the chalice that had been used in the original blessing of the Shrine. Also present were three individuals who had participated in the blessing 50 years ago. One of them was Father Stefan Strecker, team member of the Family Movement advisors, who presided at the Jubilee Mass and had been present at the blessing when he was 5 years old.
In his homily, Father Strecker expressed that the shrine is God’s gift to the Schoenstatt Movement, which works through small chapels that form a covenant network throughout the world, small dwellings where God is present, “places of God’s birth” that want to create a global bond between humanity.
Based on marriage and family shrines, in which husband and wife give each other “the right to dwell in each other’s hearts,” God will create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21).
“Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21). It would seem that God loves to create new things, Fr. Stefan continued, and he never ceases to invite us to start new things with him. So, today God also asks, “Are you willing to cooperate when I make all things new?” God asked this of Mary as well, and she was frightened, as we all are when something new happens. But then she reacted on the offensive: communicating with God and with her fellow human beings (Elizabeth, Joseph, shepherds, magi…) and acted independently. A similar path for us today?
On the occasion of Schoenstatt’s 40th jubilee, Fr. Kentenich wrote to Fr. Menningen from his exile in the United States on how important it was for Schoenstatt to experience a constant re-foundation, not only a renewal of the original spirit, but “a true reconstruction of the whole Work.”
Father Strecker said that perhaps today the question is not if the Family Shrine should be rebuilt closer to the Family House, but rather to fill the Shrine with the much more important questions of our time and all that which causes fear and doubts in us. We should ask for the ability to speak with the coming generations and for the longing to become like Mary when she communicated with God and men and translated her questions into actions and deeds. He concluded by saying that Father Kentenich had always said that God works new things and looks for collaborators: “Let us show each other how happy we are to be collaborators of our Mother and Queen”, he closed.
The homily was delivered in German, Spanish and English, as many families abroad were watching and celebrating the Golden Jubilee on their screens. After the Mass, the picture of the Blessed Mother was carried up the steep hill to the Family House, the place next to which the new Shrine will be installed.
During the simple celebration there, the phrase “Show us, Blessed Mother, what your plans are” was repeated. The children sowed flower seeds and planted bulbs in a bed in the shape of a small shrine. Adults poured the soil that they had brought from different places: from the Original Shrine, from the Shrine of Josef-Kentenich-Hof -Federation of Families-, from the Family House, etc. All those present received tiny wooden shovels as a sign of their active participation in the task of serving the world.
After so much spiritual nourishment, a well-deserved barbecue was offered in front of the Family House and on the terrace, which had been prepared with much care. It was made clear that the encounter with God and with his people go hand in hand. They are mutually enriching.