Blessing of the Shrine in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The day has finally arrived!
On Saturday, September 4th, the long-awaited blessing of the Schoenstatt Shrine in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia took place. With the ideal "Jenecherú, living fire of hope", Bolivia now has two Schoenstatt Shrines. The blessing was the culmination of a profound preparation and dedication. The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Mons. Sergio Gualberti presided over the celebration.
September 10, 2021
On Saturday, September 4th, the long-awaited blessing of the Schoenstatt Shrine in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia took place. Everything was ready for the Shrine’s blessing by 11:00 a.m. The guests, family, pilgrims, and a large delegation from the city of La Paz, Schoenstatt brothers and sisters from the Shrine of Achumani, began to arrive. It was very hot and humid, almost standard weather for this time of the year.
What was supposed to take 145 days to build turned into more than 630 days. The pandemic delayed the construction, as well as the three scheduled blessing dates.
“Los Sembradores”, the musical group invited for the celebration, delighted us with their talent before the ceremony began. It was a great contribution to appease the anxiety and nerves that we all felt.
Everything was joyful, a total family party. The celebration began with the flags preceding the entrance of Sergio Gualberti, Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, accompanied by Bishop Estanislao Dowlaszewicz, auxiliary bishop of the same archdiocese.
The homily: a Schoenstatt catechesis
Our pastor’s homily was a Schoenstatt catechesis, a decalogue of milestones for the family, where the culture of encounter was at the root of this encounter between the natural and the supernatural. To listen to a pastor who speaks to us about practical faith, about the pulse of time, about what God wanted to tell us with the pandemic, was a clear sign that our Blessed Mother united our hearts in a common mission.
The relics of St. John Paul II dating to his encounter with the Schoenstatt Family for the 100th anniversary of Father Kentenich’s birth, made our hearts beat again with excitement: “Do not be afraid, canonize him yourselves, totus tuus”. These were words that strongly challenged us.
The graces will be witnesses of the Covenant
Many followed the celebration online, thanks to the impeccable production of Diakonía, the production company of the Catholic University. The moments passed, and with them, an array of feelings. After the anointing of our consecrating crosses with oil, the crowning moment was approaching. The Blessed Mother, carried on a platform, arrived at her final resting place. We felt that our hearts were deeply united. God bestowed the great blessing of finally having a Shrine to a family who waited endlessly, without losing hope, and knew how to remain faithful to its call.
The ringing of the bell gave us the good news that the waiting was over. And now a phase of service to the Church began, testifying that God’s plans are perfect and the graces will be witnesses of Mary’s love in Covenant with her faithful.
Bishop Gualberti: The Schoenstatt Family is my best support
In the homily of the first Eucharistic celebration in our Shrine, Father Claudio Martínez Cohen reminded us how the roads to build the Shrine have been opening and closing during the last eight years. There were multiple obstacles! One of the most noteworthy was that Monsignor Gualberti had initially made it a requirement for the construction that one of the Schoenstatt Fathers reside in Santa Cruz, a requirement that was simply impossible to fulfill. A short time later, in another of Father Claudio’s visits to the Monsignor, he told him that he authorized the construction because the Schoenstatt Family was his best support and we had proven to be sufficiently committed to support the Shrine spiritually.
Jenecherú, a living fire of hope
In the words of Father Claudio Martínez Cohen, adviser of the Schoenstatt Family in Santa Cruz, “the Family’s soul has been expressed in the ideal of the Shrine: ‘Jenecherú, a living fire of hope’, which points to the worker’s fire that is always lit and gathers everyone with its warmth and light. Thus, this Family wants to be a place of personal encounter and safe shelter during the most beautiful as well as the hardest times, to be shared with all those who visit. Mary is the one who provides safe shelter and sends us to announce the love and mercy of God. This is a growing family that includes adult branches as well as male and female youth in their different stages”.
Sr. M. Silvia Beltrán: Heaven has touched the earth
Sister M. Silvia Beltrán, adviser of the Schoenstatt Family in Santa Cruz, expressed that “working with the Family of Santa Cruz, I have been able to experience this ‘living fire of hope’ that burns in the heart of each one of the Blessed Mother’s children. They expressed it especially in those years of waiting and postponement of the blessing of their Shrine. Their acceptance, joy and loyalty reached its culmination on September 4th, since the consecration of the Shrine was for them the realization of a long-awaited dream of more than 20 years”.
Regarding the commitment of the Schoenstatt Family, she added that “they have proven to the Blessed Mother with very concrete deeds, how much they love her. Many consecrations to the Militancy, Covenants of Love, and blessings of Home Shrines took place. All of them were sealed in the heart of the Blessed Mother in her recently blessed Shrine. And she summed up: “It was an experience in which we felt that heaven touched the earth in this land of Santa Cruz, which from now on becomes part of the great network of Shrines of our International Family”.
Claudio Martínez Felmer: The Blessed Mother arrived to stay forever.
Claudio Martinez Felmer, youth coordinator in Santa Cruz, said that “around the blessing of our Shrine, we have experienced days of profound encounter with God and the Blessed Mother and of a very special joy, due to the personal and face-to-face encounters with many, after being connected virtually for so long”, and he added that “undoubtedly, it was a great team work on the part of the entire local Family, accompanied by enormous contributions to the Capital of Grace. We were also able to count on the help of various platforms so that we could transmit the ceremony and have many sharing this moment of grace.”
About his personal experience he expressed: “I personally experienced that living fire of hope that is part of its ideal, in the Pioneers’ Promises and, in the Covenants made by two groups of Boys’ Youth, the first ones carried out in the recently blessed Shrine”. And he finished by saying: “It was a long time coming, but the Blessed Mother arrived to stay in her Shrine forever. It is a great gift for the Schoenstatt Family of Santa Cruz and Bolivia, and we hope also for all those who come to encounter the Blessed Mother and her Son Jesus in this beloved land.”