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Apostolic Movement

“Family – Hope for the future”

Maria and Anton Lilek

Schoenstatt representatives from seven European countries met at the end of April in Munich at the European Forum to prepare for the European Family Congress 2023, which will take place at the Schoenstatt Center in Kahlenberg, Vienna.

Schoenstatt representatives from seven European countries met at the end of April in Munich at the European Forum to prepare for the European Family Congress 2023. The Congress will take place at the Kahlenberg Schoenstatt Center in Vienna, which will be inaugurated shortly before the Congress.

Led by the Ingeborgs and Richard Sickinger, leaders of the Movement in Austria, the delegates searched for ideas about what topics could be attractive for today’s young families, under the motto “Family – Hope for the future”.


Every year Schoenstatt families and their advisors, fathers and sisters from different European countries, gather at a Schoenstatt Shrine for the European Family Forum. The initiative focuses on inspiring each other, learning from each other, getting to know each other better, rejoicing in similarities and marveling at differences. This year the European Forum met from April 22-24 at the Schoenstatt Center in Munich. Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, and Hungary were represented there to organize this important congress.

The aim of the Family Congress is to make it possible for this diversity and richness to be experienced not only by a few, but by many families from all over Europe. It is encouraging to experience that there are many families all over Europe who ardently cherish the marriage ideal and are committed to it. A true sign of hope for the future.

After several postponements due to the pandemic, the time will finally come in 2023: from April 28 to May 1, the Kahlenberg Schoenstatt Center in Vienna, which will be renovated and expanded by then, will host this event that will unite different nations. Some 200 families are expected from as many as 23 countries from Europe where the Schoenstatt Movement exists, be it as a strong living community or still as a small, committed group with a pronounced pioneering spirit.

Bearers of hope in a time of permanent panic, climate change and polarization

On the first afternoon of the preparatory meeting, each country reported on how it is a bearer of hope in a time of global uncertainties and problems. It became visible how the families of the different countries have ensured that the value of the family is preserved creatively and in different ways, so that suffering can be mitigated, as it is now in times of war, and people can find shelter and a home. But it was also noted how, during the pandemic in Schoenstatt, the community was sustained and nurtured in a very creative way, even though many of the usual things were not possible. At the end of the day, all the teams symbolically brought their countries and intentions to the Blessed Mother in the Shrine. Each country carried their national flag and formulated a very special petition in their own language.

Ingeborg and Richard Sickinger, directors of the Austrian Schoenstatt Movement, gave a challenging and inspiring talk on Saturday on the topic “Making the marriage ideal shine”. They discerned reality, observed, and found answers for the pressing signs of the times based on Father Kentenich’s vision: we live in a state of permanent panic, climate change is visibly becoming a threat, and the increasing polarization of society threatens to divide the circles of friends and families.

The core values of the Family Congress 2023: Family, hope, future.

Congreso Familia

It was then a matter of planning the 2023 Congress within this framework. In the exchange rounds, in the individual discussions, and also in the plenary sessions, we analyzed which contents, which types of encounters and which organizational measures are necessary for the families to feel comfortable so that an atmosphere of joy and enrichment can develop among them. There was intense work and many ideas were presented, there was even some struggling over individual ideas, but it was always noticeable that we were united by our common mission. We have much to share, what we have learned in Father Kentenich’s school and what we have tested in our lives. In the end, three central values upon which this Congress should be based stood out: Family – Hope – Future. The motto will be decided soon and will be included in the invitation.

In spite of the intense amount of work, fun and camaraderie were not neglected; Saturday afternoon was dedicated to international encounters. Each country contributed its culinary specialties. There was singing, dancing, riddles and lots of laughter, language barriers were overcome with a lot of humor. A beautiful example of the unity of Europe in diversity.

In the final round, the joy of the common mission and the anticipation of the 2023 Congress was clearly expressed. All participants agreed: our strength lies in unity.

There is great anticipation for the European Family Congress and preparations are underway. The closing Mass will take place in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of Vienna where the families will be given their mission. A sign that, as a Schoenstatt Family, we are ready to place our charism at the service of the whole Church.



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