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Apostolic Movement

International meeting of the Institute of our Lady of Schoenstatt

María de la Riva and Mónica Astorga

Called to live in the midst of contemporary realities, belonging completely to Christ, as reflections of Mary; living at the service of others in different professions, at the service of the Church and the Schoenstatt Movement. We share here a brief description of the international meeting of the Secular Institute that took place at the end of July 2022, in which the essence of the “Ladies of Schoenstatt” was profoundly studied.

Secular Institute Our Lady of Schoenstatt : an international meeting

“I see heaven open…” These words were spoken by the our father and founder in December 1965 when he visited the community’s Shrine for the first time. These words resound again today because of the atmosphere that permeated the international meeting of the Institute, which took place July 25-31 of this year.

In a spirit of gratitude for the 75th anniversary of its founding (1946), the Ladies of Schoenstatt gathered in their mother house, Haus Regina, next to the Original Shrine. They traveled from Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and the United States to celebrate the gift of vocation as a Family.

Consecrated women in the midst of the world: life testimonies

International meeting

On Tuesday, July 26th, a moment of prayer for the needs and concerns of today’s world was transmitted live from the Original Shrine for the entire Schoenstatt Family. Different testimonies of the Ladies of Schoenstatt were shared, which produced from the very beginning a feeling of profound gratitude for the concrete examples of lives consecrated to Christ and for the Movement in the midst of the world.

In this sense, it was very uplifting to hear the personal experience of a Schoenstatt Lady during the pressing time of the pandemic, in her arduous work as a cardiologist in a hospital in Sao Paulo (Brazil). It was encouraging to learn about the dedication of a Youth Advisor from Lisbon who works preparing the next World Youth Day in Portugal. It was meaningful to learn about the generosity of a “Lady” who works in Poland in a center that helps women in vulnerable situations as well as hearing the testimony of a member of the Institute in Slovakia who takes in Ukrainian women who have been affected by the war with Russia. The testimonies of the lives of so many Ladies of Schoenstatt  who, in the silence of each day, give themselves to transform the world in Christ through daily prayer in which they speak to God about the people with whom they are in contact, were also very touching.

Like Mary, united to Christ

International meeting

The professional life of the Ladies of Schoenstatt is often emphasized as a primary aspect of their vocation. But in reality, the richness of this charism does not lie in this external activity, but in the exclusive belonging to God in the midst of the world.

“Called to be the image of God, the image of Christ, the image of Mary who walks and acts.” Our Founder described in this way the mission of the Ladies, whose primary apostolate consists in seeking a profound unity with God, which must be radiated in their daily life and permeate the work they do.

During the International Week, in order to understand the mystery of this vocation, different members of the Institute held panels and presentations on the charism and mission of the Ladies of Schoenstatt.

“Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world (Jn 17:18)”

These words could synthesize the presentation that a Lady of Schoenstatt  from Brazil delivered, in which she described how consecrated life is a response to contemporary reality.

Faced with the demands of a world that is continually undergoing dizzying changes (technological, social, cultural), the need for attachments, personal relationships and a tangible experience of God is urgent. Every Lady of Schoenstatt is immersed in this surge of revolutions but being anchored in God through her exclusive belonging to Christ and, by means of the graces she receives in her Covenant of Love, she is sent to be a beacon for men and women along the way. Her vocation has not only been forged, but also brought to life for this time!

And this is due to the fact that, not only have technological aspects extrinsic to man changed over the course of time, but also people’s view of the world and their way of relating to God has also changed. Faced with this, the life of a consecrated woman in the midst of the world takes on a special value, as does her dedication to the apostolate and her work with pastoral projects. In different ways, it is a matter of going out to meet people and their circumstances, in their personal experiences and relationships.

Bridge between different environments

A Lady of Schoenstatt  from the United States and leader of the Girls’ Youth shared a personal reflection on the contribution that the Institute offers to the Schoenstatt Movement. In this presentation, she detailed that, since the Ladies of Schoenstatt work in different professions, they are in permanent contact with people from different areas and cultures.

Every Lady of  Schoenstatt experiences in her being the specific challenges that every layperson faces today: the demands of work and the tension that this entails; the difficulty of maintaining a balance between work, family/community life and the cultivation of the interior life.  These daily experiences enrich the understanding and relationship with others, which positively influences every apostolate she carries out, particularly in her service to the Movement and the Church.

The life of a consecrated woman is therefore a combination of different realities. Vocation is, in itself, a union between the working life and the apostolic life; it is the integration between daily reality and divine reality. Her surrender to God enhances the service she can render to people in the world and her being in the world contributes to bringing people to God.

“We are one in the Cross“


“We are one in the Shrine, we are one in the cross, we are one in Father’s heart”. The International Meeting culminated on Sunday, July 31st with the singing of these verses around the Patri Unita Shrine, located in the main house of the Institute.

The different panels, lectures, workshops, group work and outings fostered unity in the family and among the members from different continents. The diversity of cultures, languages and generations was not an obstacle but a great source of enrichment for the meeting. An encounter that was rooted in the heart of Christ and Mary, in the graces of the Shrine, the Original Unity Cross and our Father and Founder’s mission for the Church.



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