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Apostolic Movement

Former Continental Coordinators: “We must always listen to the youth!”

By: Enrique Soros

Father José Luis Correa, a Chilean living in San José, Costa Rica, and Sister María Auxiliadora Bohórquez, an Ecuadorian living in Guayaquil, were the continental coordinators of the Schoenstatt Movement in America for the past few years. They participated in the International Schoenstatt Pentecost Congress in June 2022, and share a broad vision of the Movement in America and beyond.

Their term of service has just come to an end, and the General Presidium of Schoenstatt has decided that Sister Kathia Martinez, from Paraguay, who lives in Asuncion, and Father Felipe Rios, from Chile, who lives in Guayaquil, will take over this responsibility as of June.

We have interviewed Sister María Auxiliadora and Father José Luis to learn about their vision and perspectives of the Schoenstatt Movement in America.

Now that eight years have passed since the creation of the Continental Coordination, how do you analyze this experience for the Schoenstatt Family in America?

FJL: I think it has been an outstanding story, since it is something that was born from the 2014 Jubilee and the First Pentecost Congress of 2015, in a process of reflection and consultation, study and international dialogue that had been developing for some time.

Additionally, it is to date the only continent that officially has a Coordination of the Movement. It has been an experience of understanding, appreciating, and learning from the very distinct reality of the Movement in the continent, as well as contributing to the integration of all the countries where it is present.

What importance do you think the Pentecost Congress had for Schoenstatt in America?

SMA: The International Coordination opened the doors for us to contribute, for which we are grateful. America had many good representatives. Also, the voice of the Congress influenced our Congress of Families, the ICOF (Paraguay, May 2023). I am confident that it will inspire the congress of entrepreneurs in November 2023, the International Community of Schoenstatt Businessmen and Executives (CIEES). The challenge “You are my letter” resounds in branches and communities as a new way of being on the go.

Excoordinadores continentales: “Tenemos que oír siempre a la juventud!”

And for Schoenstatt internationally?

SMA: It seems to me that we experienced being of one heart… or on the way to becoming one. In the midst of the turmoil with the Kentenich cause, the Family faced it. And it felt calm and secure in the charism and person of our Founder. We longed for a broader outlook and for the Covenant to reach everyone. We also accepted our limitations and the need for greater support of the youth. And to take our mission to Asia, Africa, and Australia.

What does synodality mean for Schoenstatt according to the way of thinking of our Father and Founder?

FJL: I think it is closely related to what we in Schoenstatt refer to and try to practice, which is being federative, walking together, dialoguing, etc., along the lines of what Pope Francis expresses in Amoris Laetitia, and in other of his fundamental documents.


Excoordinadores continentales: “Tenemos que oír siempre a la juventud!”

What crucial points do you see in the society and in the Church of the continent, in which Schoenstatt should have a greater presence?

SMA: It seems to me that we should achieve a more fluid presence in the parishes and serve more in pastoral work. We need to have a greater influence in civil and political life, however challenging that may be. And we need to achieve a greater and better outreach to vulnerable people and groups.

In what ways do you see the Movement touching the grassroots of the people in America? In what facts, in what circumstances?

FJL: I would dare to say that the Pilgrim Mother Apostolate is a concrete and fruitful way of reaching ‘the roots of the people’ in the continent. So is the Men’s Early Risers current. I also must include the vast amount of social works that Schoenstatt has in the continent, for example, Maria Ayuda, Dequeni, etc. Along similar lines, I believe that the contributions to education through the network of Schoenstatt schools, in which the Kentenich pedagogy is applied, is very valuable and important.

The CIEES and the Network of Schoenstatters in public service also make valuable contributions towards the changes that should take place in society regarding the mission of renewal and transformation of the world.

Excoordinadores continentales: “Tenemos que oír siempre a la juventud!”

Can you perceive in Schoenstatt in America a prophetic spirit, applying Father Kentenich’s pedagogy to the challenges of the times?

SMA: I believe that we are on this path. This can be perceived in the flourishing of Schoenstatt. Life is sprouting fresh and vigorous in various countries, confronting – not without struggles – the adverse currents. There is an effort to penetrate boldly into education, business, and the social order. To reach families, even those not joined by the sacrament. We still have a long way to go to “translate” Father Kentenich’s teachings into today’s language!

What is the relationship of the Church, of the bishops, with Schoenstatt, in general?

FJL: I think that, in general, the Movement is well known and valued by the American bishops. Many bishops know that they can count on Schoenstatt in various pastoral fields, particularly in the pastoral care of the family. They appreciate the contributions made in the initial and ongoing formation of the clergy, as well as the role of the Shrines as centers of spirituality and apostolic zeal.

What do you think about the contribution of the youth at the Pentecost Congress in June 2022 with the international Schoenstatt leaders?

SMA: The youth made themselves heard, their contribution was very valuable. I think they showed how much they can do. They made us see that they need more from us. Their voice must continue to be strong. We have to open more doors for them in each local Family, so that they are active and present. Give them a role in our meetings: so that these are not only “for adults” but also an answer for them. Listen to them more, always listen to them.

Excoordinadores continentales: “Tenemos que oír siempre a la juventud!”

How did the teamwork with the International Coordination develop?

FJL: With annual face-to-face meetings and with the support of married couples, first the Marini’s (Paraguay) and then the Gutiérrez Rosabal’s (Costa Rica). Also, with virtual meetings and with the incorporation of the National Directors / Advisors of the Movement and the Sisters of Mary responsible for the Sister Advisors of each country (the Dynamics).

The permanent contact with the International Coordination was also very valuable, especially in the preparation and implementation of the Pentecost Congress of 2022, for which I am deeply grateful.

How do you perceive the interest of National Directors, National Presidencies and Central Advisors in working as a team?

FJL: At the National Directorate level and at the level of the National Advisors’ Centers, I perceive a great interest and need to work as a team, to create spaces for greater exchange of experiences, materials, etc., as well as to be able to address issues that are common to most or all of the countries.

What message would you give to Sister Kathia Martínez and Father Felipe Ríos Correa, who were recently designated as new Continental Coordinators in America?

SMA: Thank them for continuing with this great task! Keep on contributing so that the treasure of the Covenant of Love may reach all the corners of the Earth. You will see your mission flow with divine help and as a team. We already have a network among us, with couples, youth advisors, and others. This is key!

We wish that you have representation of young people in the Coordination, so that you can face with them the urgent challenge of vocations and youth. And to continue to support each country in what each country needs. You are now our letter. We are with you!


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