When Father Joseph Kentenich offered a few days of retreat in Nueva Helvecia, Uruguay, he began one of his talks with the words: “There is an ‘earthquake of graces’ that spreads from place to place, from country to country” (1947). If we look back over the past few months, in which his entire Schoenstatt Family, the city of Nueva Helvecia and far beyond the borders of Uruguay, are preparing to celebrate 80 years of the MTA’s presence in a Daughter Shrine, wouldn’t he say exactly the same?

After months of preparation and anticipation, the day of the Jubilee has finally arrived. Hearts are bursting with joy.

There were days of celebration, starting on Saturday

The feast begins on Saturday afternoon, October 14, marked by various activities: praying the Rosary and the opening Mass; performance by the Municipal Orchestra of Colonia near the Shrine; a presentation in texts and videos by the Sisters of Mary with the theme: A place in history and a look at the present and the future. The celebration was concluded with the festive dinner in a club near the Shrine.

In the opening Mass, the Bishop of Oberá, Argentina, Monsignor Damián Bitar, said: “We pour out all our hearts to you, Mother. We bless God who wanted to remain in this important place, in this country, on this continent. We thank God for the gift of Mary’s presence in these 80 years of life, of journey, of prayer, of protection. How many supplications, how many thanksgivings, how many tears that only she knows as a mother, how many gifts to the capital of grace that have been accumulated in this blessed place for the glory of God and for the glory of the children of God and the children of Mary!”

Rosario Caravia de Burbaquis, a member of the organization team, relates: “The meeting of the Schoenstatt Family was on Saturday, the 14th. We welcomed delegations from Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and from various Departments of Uruguay. During the dinner in the evening there were words of welcome and gratitude from Uruguay and from the delegations. The greetings of our Schoenstatt brothers and sisters from the various shrines around the world, were very moving.”

In the evening, the great day of celebration began with the vigil of the young people in the shrine. With their songs and prayers, they have the privilege of accompanying the MTA throughout the night until dawn.

We thank God for Mary’s presence in these 80 years

The central moment of the Jubilee was Holy Mass presided by Monsignor Carlos María Collazzi, the Bishop of Mercedes, the diocese to which the Shrine belongs. He was joined at the altar by two bishops: Monsignor Damián Bitar, Bishop of Oberá, Argentina, and Monsignor Pedro Wolcan, Bishop of Tacuarembó, Uruguay, who was a former student of the MTA school. Three priests concelebrated: Schoenstatt Father Juan Pablo Cattoggio, Father Luciano Retamosa from Mercedes and Father Marcelo Ortiz, parish priest of Nueva Helvecia.

Monsignor Collazzi spoke warmly about the content of the celebration and emphasized the importance of this shrine. We also took the opportunity to sincerely thank him, because after 29 years at the service of the diocese, years in which he faithfully accompanied us on the patronal feasts, he is leaving his place to the next bishop, Monsignor Luis Eduardo González Cedrés, who has already been appointed by Pope Francis.

New Covenants, a Gift to the Blessed Mother

At noon, while people were taking their lunch, the sounds of the military band rang out, playing marches with their fanfares, culminating with the “Happy Birthday” and the national anthem.

This was followed by a folkloric ballet performing typical dances and the moment, awaited by many, when they will make their covenant of love with Mary. For the 80th anniversary, we dreamed of preparing 80 people for the covenant, but the MTA surprised us with a much larger number.

In the meantime, the image of the Pilgrim Mother was placed in a van for the procession to the parish. The people crowded around the Pilgrim Mother, and the day ended with the blessing.

When the sun was setting, the program was ended for those who came from afar, but in Nueva Helvecia the celebration continued!

The 18th – 80th Anniversary of the Shrine

Wednesday the 18th is the actual anniversary day. Therefore the children of the MTA school have the privilege of celebrating their Queen with a beautiful outdoor Mass. Minutes before, a pilgrimage group of women arrived who had walked 20 km to honor the MTA. It has already become a tradition, and the number of pilgrims is growing from year to year.

Rosario Caravia observed: “These were two extraordinary days in which there was an atmosphere of depth, gratitude, appreciation and joy. What a celebration, everything went like clockwork… the sun was shining, the park was full of worshippers, people were smiling, everyone was very happy. I imagine Our Lady looking at her children, content to see us gathered around ‘her house’, ‘our house’, where we feel secure, loved and understood by her.”

*Original text in Spanish. English translation: Sr. M. Thomasine Treese