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Apostolic Movement

Father Joseph Kentenich’s Secretariat: great outreach and change of directorship

Heinrich Brehm

  • Sr. M. Resia Käppeler, Sr. Gisela-Maria Mues (center) and Sr. M. Adele Gertsen (right) at the Fr. Joseph Kentenich Secretariat (Photo: Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper)

The task of the Secretariat of Father Joseph Kentenich is to make known the special charism of the founder of the Schoenstatt Movement, as well as his mission and person, and to promote his veneration. Sister M. Adele Gertsen, together with the respective postulator in the beatification process, currently the Chilean Schoenstatt Father Eduardo Aguirre, was in charge of this secretariat for 30 years. In view of Sister M. Adele’s advanced age, this service has now been entrusted to Sister Gisela-Maria Mues.

Expressions of gratitude from the General Presidium for 30 years of faithful service

Sr. M. Adele Gertsen informs the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Movement about her work in the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat (Photo: Dr. Christian Löhr)

At its summer meeting in June 2023, the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Movement took the opportunity to express its heartfelt thanks to Sister M. Adele Gertsen for her generous years of service. The element of continuity, which Sister M. Adele provided in the Secretariat team, was not a minor contribution, expressed Father Christian Löhr, Rector General of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests, in his thanksgiving message. Over the years, she carried out the tasks of the Secretariat in close collaboration with Schoenstatt Fathers Engelbert Monnerjahn from Germany, Ángel Strada from Argentina and Eduardo Aguirre from Chile. She has beem assisted by Sister M. Resia Käppeler, who has worked with her for many years and has also contributed with her excellent knowledge of languages.

F. Alexandre Awi Mello, President of the General Presidium, thanks Sr. M. Adele Gertsen on behalf of the entire movement for her three decades of service (Photo: Dr. Christian Löhr).

On behalf of the General Presidium, Father Christian Löhr expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Sister M. Adele for her ever-renewed efforts to make Father Kentenich known. The priest presented Sr. M. Adele with a letter of gratitude signed by all the members of the Presidium and a voucher for the Schoenstatt Publishing House. He also thanked the Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary for providing with Sister Gisela-Maria Mues, a member of the General Presidium of their community for 12 years, a successor for Father Joseph Kentenich’s Secretariat. Sister Gisela has also been entrusted with the additional task of directing the Father Kentenich House on Mount Schoenstatt.

Report from the director of the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat

Sr. Gisela-Maria Mues took over the leadership of the Father Kentenich House from Sr. Annemarja Wansing (Photo: Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper)

Sister M. Adele reviewed her work as director of the Secretariat on behalf of the small team of five people who worked together at the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat. In addition to the postulator and herself, there were three other members of the team. Within the framework of the diocesan procedure for the beatification of Father Joseph Kentenich, whose temporary suspension was ordered by Bishop Dr. Stephan Ackermann on May 3, 2022, the Secretariat established contacts in 94 countries around the world.

“From the very beginning, I could confirm that many people venerate Father Kentenich as their saint,” Sister Adele emphasizes. “Even though the Church has not yet canonized him, for me he is a saint, expressed many.” In the beatification process, 150 testimonies have been examined and the reported healings have been investigated. Countless people have told the Secretariat how important Father Kentenich was in their lives. The Secretariat received 1.7 million answers to prayers heard. All documents related to these events are not kept in Trier as archives of the beatification process, but rather at the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat in Schoenstatt since 2017, since there is no room available for so much material in the archives in Trier.

Printed material in 30 languages

The latest issue (3/2023) of “Impulse fürs Leben” was sent to the readers these days (Photo: Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper).

In order to promote devotion to Father Kentenich, the Secretariat has published a large number of printed material in 30 different languages. These writings were distributed in a circulation of more than eight million copies. In addition, some 36 million prayer cards and prayer sheets were printed and distributed over the years. In the German-speaking world, the eight-page booklet “Impulse fürs Leben” (Impulses for Life), in which testimonies and answers to prayer are documented, is published four times a year with a total circulation of more than 10 million copies. “Readers come to know and appreciate Father Kentenich through the writings. They choose him as a model for their own lives and aspirations. They learn to live through faith, to view life by the light of faith in Divine Providence, to understand and accept the value and importance of suffering in their lives, and to trust in Mary, as Father Kentenich did,” Sister M. Adele said about the impact of the publications.

For this reason, she and her team were also present with book stands at events such as the Gymnich Ritt, congresses of Aid to the Church in Need and celebrations at Schoenstatt Centers all over the country. Furthermore, she was a lecturer for groups of the Schoenstatt Movement or for pilgrim groups.

As part of the collection of prayer petitions and answers to prayers, another task emerged in the secretariat. Sometimes the staff had to offer a type of telephone counseling to many of the callers. In addition to the calls, many letters arrive at the secretariat each day. Today, written communication is almost exclusively by e-mail.

Pope John Paul II: “You canonize him!”

Bishop Ackermann’s temporary suspension of the beatification process on May 3, 2022, as a result of the abuse allegations against Father Kentenich, was a major disruption to the work of the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat. However, the Sister of Mary commented, it could be seen that the great majority of Father Kentenich’s friends continued to be faithful to him and only a few distanced themselves.

“Carry the work of your founder into the future and canonize him!”. With these words and this command from Pope John Paul II to the Schoenstatt Family, Sister Adele concluded her report on her work in the Father Joseph Kentenich Secretariat, not without first pointing out that too many of the many persons beatified and canonized in recent decades remain unknown. According to her, this should not be the fate of Father Kentenich.



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