The Pilgrim Mother Campaign is a missionary sign of a Church on the way
"In today's fragmented life, where we risk losing the thread, the mother's embrace is essential”. This advice, which Pope Francis calls "medicine," may seem simple, but it has proven effective in the lives of countless families who welcome Mary into their homes and hearts. On September 10, the Campaign of the Pilgrim Virgin turns 70 years old and seems to respond vitally to the need expressed in the words of Pope Francis.
Written by: Karen Bueno - Schoenstatt Press Office Brazil.
The Campaign began in the southern region of Brazil, in the city of Santa Maria, and today it reaches more than 150 countries. Through lay leadership, the missionaries want to take the Church, in the simple image of the Virgin, in order to visit in a special way the most distant and difficult places, to bring Jesus and Mary to the fragmented homes.
“The Virgin Mary,” says the Pope, “embraces many concrete situations and is present where there is need: she will meet her cousin Elizabeth, help the spouses at Cana, encourage the disciples in the Cenacle… Mary is the remedy for loneliness and disintegration. She is the Mother of consolation, the Mother that “consoles”: she is with whomever feels alone. She knows that words are not enough to comfort; presence is necessary. And Mary is present as mother”.
Mary is a discreet presence, but one of impact
Peter Jeya Kumar lives in Chennai/Tamilnadu, India, and tells of his experience: “In one of the Campaign groups in India, Our Lady was taken to a family with whom the neighborhood did not relate well. The members of the circle came to pray in front of the Blessed Mother, including the families who had relationship problems. Thus, the Pilgrim Mother unites many families who have problems with each other and also brings together people of other religions, such as the Hindus.
In the conviction of Pope Francis, “Mary roots us in the Church”. This can be seen in the life of the couple Gislaine Lopes and José Maurício de Souza, Brazilians from the state of Alagoas. They had been living together for ten years, but only married as civil partners.
“We were happy, but we did not live in communion with the Church. We did not have the sacrament of marriage. Mauricio followed the spiritualist doctrine and I, although I was raised in the Catholic faith, did not give importance due to the Church” says Gislaine.
It was in a moment of matrimonial crisis when the presence of Mary made the difference: “In the year 2000 I received the invitation to receive the Pilgrim Virgin in our home, but I refused it. After five years, in 2005, our marriage was in a very big crisis, we almost separated. It was then that one night I found the Pilgrim MTA in my living room, someone left her in our house by mistake. I spent a few days looking for the missionary to return the Pilgrim MTA, and when I found him, I remembered the day I rejected her. But the Mother and Queen did not reject us. I immediately asked the missionary to put us on the list of families to receive our Mother at home. From then on, we had months of renovation in our relationship as a couple and with our children.
Little by little, month by month, I returned to the Mass and Mauricio was away from the spiritualist meetings. In September 2007 we married in the Church, Mauricio made his First Communion and the following year we received Confirmation together. Since then, we are missionaries of the Pilgrim Mother Campaign and agents of the Family Ministry”.
God chooses the little ones
For the beginning of the Campaign, God chooses a simple man, a peasant and a merchant from the city of Santa Maria: the Servant of God John Louis Pozzobon, whose process of beatification is taking place in Rome. He is pointed out as a model father, husband, deacon and missionary: “The devotion to John is very strong among the group of missionaries who carry the Pilgrim Mother. We see in him the image of a strong man in body and spirit, who gives testimony of his smallness. His testimony awakens in the people a call and a mission consciousness that makes us ask ourselves: Why not me?” comments the young Emanuel Velasco De La Garza, from Querétaro, Mexico.
Silvia Sibay, from Tucumán, expresses: “Don João, for Argentina, is a humble yet great person, who started an extraordinary campaign. He is an example for thousands of missionaries throughout the country who continue to bring the Pilgrim Mother to those in need. His work, his sacrifice, his perseverance, made me understand that this is what I wanted for my life. So I have been a missionary for 30 years.
For the Archbishop of Santa Maria, Monsignor Hélio Adelar Rubert, “it is a joy for the Archdiocese to be the home of this apostolate, the birthplace of this ‘man of God’ who was John Pozzobon. An apostle “with his feet on the ground”, as well as Pope Francis, who goes to meet people in schools, in prisons, in families
70 years illuminating lives
According to Pope Francis, “when Mary arrives, joy overflows and explodes in hearts, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills everything with meaning. This explosion of joy is what transforms the lives of so many families through the Pilgrim Mother Campaign, a presence that embraces and illuminates, because “you bring your son Jesus with you, who is life, way, truth and light”.