The Schoenstatt Movement’s International Congress of Families (CIOF) was held in Paraguay from May 4th to 7th, with the participation of 154 couples and 43 advisors -Schoenstatt Fathers, Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary and Ladies of Schoenstatt- from 20 countries of America and Europe.

Encounter of hearts

The Schoenstatt Movement International Congress of Families (CIOF) is a space that promotes the interaction of couples from the different communities and from different countries to reflect and exchange experiences, formation material, projects and apostolates. This is done with the purpose of gathering criteria and inspiring, from the spirituality of the Founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, a pedagogy of marriage and family, and then propose courses of action, in response to the challenges of our times.

It is an opportunity for hearts to converge, to recognize ourselves as a single family, a single Family Work, to discuss topics that matter to us, that question and challenge us, while sharing the answers we give to the demands of our times, generating collaborations among the different communities and countries.

Family Work
Young Shrine, Asunción del Paraguay

Working as a family for families

For the Schoenstatt Family work in Paraguay, this was an opportunity and an immense challenge that led us to work and prepare ourselves for 5 years as a team, postponing the planned date twice, with a pandemic that no one expected. A lot was offered to the Capital of Grace.

Family Work
Welcome Kit

The CIOF Paraguay 2023 Work Team was made up of more than 100 couples, who were in charge of all the organizational, logistical, spiritual and content aspects. They took care of every detail so that the CIOF would be a family reunion and a celebration; from the remote to the most immediate preparation, especially welcoming each one of the participants that arrived at our Guarani land, and during the whole duration of the CIOF.

We experienced a great gift from God, faithful to the ideal that He gave us of being a Nation of God, Heart of America, welcoming the families and participants with the warmth, friendliness and unique hospitality that characterizes Paraguay.

This time the CIOF was conducted under the motto: “Family in Covenant, Heart for the world”, with the objective of promoting a warm and familiar experience of personal and life encounters. The aim was to contribute to the strengthening of the bonds among the participants and to come up with concrete proposals, based on identifying the reality of marriage, the family and society, and from a self-critical view as Schoenstatt’s Family Movement.

FAmily Work
Relics of San Roque González de Santa Cruz, first Paraguayan saint.

Connections, formation, and shared life

The opening of the CIOF took place on Thursday, May 4th in the Youth Shrine, in Asunción, with a Mass presided by Father José Luis Correa, Continental Coordinator, concelebrated by more than 20 priests and with the presence of the relic of the incorrupt heart of the first Paraguayan saint, Saint Roque González de Santa Cruz. Graciela and Beltrán Macchi, Coordinators of CIOF Paraguay 2023, were in charge of the opening ceremony.

On Friday the 5th and Saturday the 6th, the participants met at the Sheraton Hotel. Three conferences, two testimonial panels and 25 workshops were given by couples and advisors from the different participating countries. Friday’s activities were focused on being a “Marian Family, home for the world”. On Saturday we worked on deepening the awareness that “It is the hour of the laity, Cor unum in Patre”. Afterwards, there were presentations of some apostolic experiences and an Apostolate Expo.

On Friday night, as a complement to the work of the CIOF, a cultural evening was held at “Las Tacuaras”. The participants were able to enjoy the magnificent performance of the “Orchestra with recycled instruments from Cateura”, which is not only a beautiful artistic presentation but also an initiative of human promotion and development for its members and their environment.

Inaugural Mass

The closing of this edition of the CIOF took place on Sunday, May 7th in Tuparendá. On that day the participants gathered according to their membership in the different communities of the Work of Families: Apostolic League of Families, Apostolic Federation of Families and Institute of Families. To conclude, Holy Mass was celebrated in the Santa María de la Trinidad Church presided by Bishop Joaquín Robledo, Bishop of San Lorenzo and concelebrated by Bishop Emeritus Claudio Giménez and more than 20 priests. After the closing ceremony, a Karú Guasú (big meal, in Guaraní) was shared, accompanied by artistic performances from the participating countries, in a festive and familiar atmosphere.

Daniela and Antonio Peralta belong to the Institute of Schoenstatt Families, Paraguay.