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Apostolic Movement

In a prominently orthodox country, tiny Schoenstatt with a mission to integrate

By: Sister Mariana Hermann

Russia’s current war against Ukraine has drawn our attention to the countries of Eastern Europe. For Pope John Paul II, who came from Poland, these countries are of great importance for the future of the Church. He said that Christian Europe has to breathe with two lungs: the Roman-Latin (Catholic) and the Slavic-Byzantine (Orthodox).

Our founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, also believed that the Slavic people could make a significant contribution to the renewal of our Church in the future. The remarkable openness of his fellow prisoners from the Eastern European countries in Dachau led him to the conviction that Schoenstatt had a special mission in this regard. We are united with the Orthodox Christians, especially because of our great love for Mary. Father Kentenich sees this as the great vehicle to bring both Churches together. What can we do in this regard?

I would like to share with you a little about the life of the small Schoenstatt Family in Serbia.

Serbia: Catholic minorities and a small Schoenstatt Family

Serbia is an Orthodox country. Catholics, mostly Croatians or Hungarians, are a small minority and live mostly in Vojvodina, which borders Croatia to the west and Hungary to the north.

The Schoenstatt Family is also small. It came into being through the efforts of Hedwig Maria Weinzierl from Germany, a member of the Ladies’ Federation, who worked in the parish of Ruma from 1980 to 2006. She led many to the Covenant of Love and worked to spread the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Apostolate. Today there are almost 20 Pilgrim Mother circles and a group of Women and Mothers of the Schoenstatt Movement in Beška and in the historic town of Sremska Mitrovica.

The restrictions caused by the pandemic in recent years intensified the experience of isolation and almost paralyzed the life of the Schoenstatt Family.

Icone of Mary -Basilica from Saint Sava in Belgrad_ Foto M Hermann

10 years of the MTA wayside shrine in Beška

The jubilee of the parish wayside shrine in Beška was therefore a suitable opportunity to create a community experience and replenish the small flock of Schoenstatters with renewed joy and confidence. It was held last November 19th. Although the rainy November weather was not inviting, some Schoenstatters from the surrounding cities and even from neighboring Croatia did not miss the opportunity to participate in this event.

10 years of the MTA wayside shrine in Beška – Foto M Hermann

We started with a celebration and a period of adoration in the small parish church dedicated to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Then we went in procession to the parish courtyard, to the wayside shrine and placed our contributions to the capital of grace to the MTA in the jar. Because of the rain, they had to be burned some distance away under a canopy, but this did not diminish the enjoyment.

Beška-Sending out images of the Pilgrim Blessed Mother – Foto M Hermann

During the subsequent Holy Mass, presided by the local parish priest Božidar Lusavec, a woman sealed the Covenant of Love with the MTA, and at the end the Pilgrim MTA images that had been brought were blessed and sent out again.

Each one is important

In Ruma, where the Blessed Mother has found her home in the sacristy of the parish church, two women had already sealed their Covenant of Love on May 6th.

Covenant of love in Ruma – Foto M Mikolaci

In Zemun, near Belgrade, we met a woman from Surčin who was immediately enthralled with the Pilgrim Mother and now wants to organize a circle in her parish. In the capital itself, Belgrade, where a Pilgrim Mother circle already exists in the parish of St. Anthony, I was able to introduce this apostolate once again and a young film director showed a great interest in Schoenstatt.

Although the young people who are interested in our Movement are individuals, this gives hope for the future of Schoenstatt in Serbia, because, as our founder said:

“Through selfless service to individuals, this is how Schoenstatt has emerged; in the same way it must continue to grow.”

Catholics and Orthodox: all must be one

I concluded my November trip with the Schoenstatters in Serbia with a visit to the beautifully decorated Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in Belgrade.

Basilica of Saint Sava in Belgrad_Foto M Hermann

At the tomb of Patriarch Irenaeus, buried in the crypt, we asked him to intercede for unity between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, so that Jesus’ desire may be fulfilled:

“They shall all be one: as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Jn 17:21).

May the Blessed Mother also use Schoenstatt as an instrument so that Europe may breathe in peace and unity “with two lungs”:

“Let us contribute to the unity of the Eastern churches

and may suns of peace arise in the world”.

(J. Kentenich, Hirtenspiegel # 5029)


with your loved ones

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