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Apostolic Movement

Commemorations of the 55th anniversary of Fr. Joseph Kentenich’s death

Heinrich Brehm

On September 15, 1968, in the early hours of that Sunday morning, on the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, the founder of the Schoenstatt Family died unexpectedly in the sacristy, after celebrating his first Holy Mass in the Church of the Holy Trinity on Mount Schoenstatt, Vallendar.

To mark the occasion, the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat invited to a memorial hour on the afternoon of September 14 and a memorial Mass on the morning of September 15.

“Childlikeness, a characteristic of Father Kentenich”

The memorial hour began with inspiring words by Father Eduardo Aguirre, whose topic was, “Childlikeness – a characteristic of Father Kentenich.” Father Aguirre is the postulator of the cause for Father Kentenich‘s beatification, which is currently suspended by the Bishop of Trier, Dr. Stephan Ackermann.

Fr. Eduardo Aguirre at the memorial mass on the afternoon of September 14 (Photo: Sr M. Maritta Zell)

Father Aguirre pointed out that God is called Father more than 400 times in the New Testament and that Jesus Christ always spoke to his disciples of God as a father who wants the best for his people. This also reveals the truth about human nature, namely, to be children of God the Father. Father Kentenich always insisted “that the goal of our life’s journey and of our maturity in faith is to become truly children of God,” he said. Furthermore, he explained that it is decisive how Christians genuinely grow in a relationship of filial love with God the Father. That was the perspective of the spirituality lived and the pedagogy practiced by Father Kentenich.

A fatherly heart full of love

Father Kentenich’s pedagogy stems from the experience of love on the natural level. This can lead to a growth in love on the supernatural level. Schoenstatt’s founder wanted to offer this approach, which had been experienced in the Movement’s communities, to present-day Church as a proven pedagogy of faith. “That is also why Father Kentenich placed so much emphasis on the natural family and took special care to protect and develop it in his Schoenstatt work,” Father Aguirre continues.

Father Aguirre concluded his inspiring words by stressing that Father Kentenich himself had the heart of a child, a heart that trusted absolutely in the love of Mary, his “mother and educator,” a heart deeply attached to and identified with Christ, and like Christ, he tried to be an obedient child of God the Father. “At the same time, he had the heart of a true father for his followers, a paternal heart full of love, ready to give his life for his loved ones,” he concluded.

The cross, a constant in Father Kentenich’s life

Father Alexandre Awi Mello, President of the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Movement, is the main celebrant at the commemorative Mass on September 15. With him at the altar (from left to right) are Dr. Christian Löhr, Rector General of the Schoenstatt Community of Diocesan Priests; Dr. Bernd Biberger, Director General of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary; Fr. Eduardo Aguirre; Fr. Raffael Rieger, Provincial of the European Province of the Schoenstatt Fathers; Fr. Ludiwg Güthlein, Director of the Schoenstatt Movement in Germany (Photo: Sr. M. Maritta Zell).

Father Kentenich was well aware that the decision to dedicate his entire life to the Kingdom of God would bring with it the cross as a constant feature in his life, added Father Eduardo Aguirre in his homily at the memorial mass celebrated on September 15, at 7 a.m., the time of Father Kentenich’s death, in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. The main celebrant was Father Alexandre Awi Mello, President of the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Movement.

In fact, said Aguirre, Father Kentenich repeatedly had to carry heavy crosses in his life. In spite of everything, he always passionately sought God’s will and was willing to carry the cross that was imposed on him with unshakable faith and childlike trust.

Today Father Kentenich is once again facing accusations from the time of the visitations and the exile. Once again, added Father Aguirre, the cross is present in his person and in his foundation. “I believe that all the accusations and controversies that we have had to face lately around the person of our Founder are a great opportunity provided by Divine Providence for us to learn more about Father Kentenich’s life, to become more deeply acquainted with his way of thinking, to penetrate more deeply into his charism and to identify ourselves more decisively with his mission,” he concluded.



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