Close this search box.

Apostolic Movement

July 16: Father Kentenich founded two secular institutes in Dachau

By: Angelica e Ronaldo Hashimoto

It is not easy to imagine what it would be like to live in a concentration camp. There are tremendous challenges and difficulties: cold, hunger, tiredness, sickness, all the pressure and the oppressive atmosphere in which people live there. As we have heard, it is hell!

And in this environment of such hopelessness, our Father and Founder cultivated hope, offered personal contact, care and attention to others. He knew and sought every day to live in Divine Providence. He always wanted to respond with fidelity and love to God the Father.

In this dialogue with God, Father Joseph Kentenich sought the voice of God in the smallest incidents:

“It was with concern for the Family that I entered the concentration camp and, as per the law of the open door, I was always probing: won’t the good God open a small door for a new foundation, even in these very unfavorable situations here? When will he open the door for this foundation?”.

In the midst of chaos, look for the open doors, even if it’s just a crack!

And so, in the midst of the difficulties of a concentration camp, our Father and Founder found instruments and opportunities to respond to the loving plans of the Eternal Father.

On July 16, 1942, in the Dachau concentration camp, block 14, room 3, in the clandestine prison, Father Kentenich met Dr. Fritz Kuhr and Dr. Eduardo Pesendorfer. They were instrumental in the founding of the Institute of the Families and the Institute of the Brothers of Mary, respectively.

On that day, Father Albert Eise set up a small altar with his worktable and hid it between three mattresses. On the altar he placed two candles, a white handkerchief with the Blessed Sacrament and a small keepsake of the Mother and Queen Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt. In a very simple way, he prepared the setting for these foundations.

On that occasion, Father Kentenich delivered a lecture on the importance of such an hour, worthy of the catacombs. He spoke of the importance for the present time and for the future of the foundations that were being established.

On this date, the consecration of Dr. Fritz Kühr as a novice of the Institute of the Schoenstatt Families and of Dr. Eduardo Pesendorfer for the Institute of the Brothers of Mary took place. From the consecration made by Dr. Kuhr emerged the Schoenstatt Family Movement, a daring and fruitful beginning, which developed into three communities of Families: League, Federation and Institute.

sentido da vida

A Obra de Famílias é fundada no Bloco 14, em Dachau

Everything is a result of a decision and an action

In these foundations we see the fruit of our Father’s decision on January 20, 1942, and a new divine surge of grace for the sacred realm of marriage, the family and the Christian idea of man. Through the fiat of its founding instruments, in a difficult moment of need – “upon Dachau’s foundations” – the very first stone was laid for new secular institutes in the Church. A great opportunity for what seemed impossible!

O Capítulo Gera

  Brothers of Mary

“It is about the spirit of Dachau that we have been speaking: the spirit of total embedding in the supernatural world, in the supernatural reality. This is the ultimate and deepest meaning of our life. Let us not deceive ourselves, all other attachments are only transitory, they are a path and a means to a goal. But the goal is and eternally remains God’s” (Fr. Kentenich – July 16, 1967).

Let us trust that, even in great difficulties, we can find opportunities that help us to respond with love to the action of Divine Providence in our lives.

And may this strength, sustaining marriage and the family, of a Christian idea of man and our Church, flow in our Work – as a response in the spirit of Father Kentenich and the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt.


with your loved ones

Related articles that may interest you

meaning of life

Fr. Joseph Kentenich and the meaning of life

Our history in Schoenstatt is also marked by the profound suffering that our founder experienced in the concentration camp. After his courageous acceptance of the cross, Father Joseph Kentenich went through years of difficult trials, trusting fully in Divine Providence and in Mary’s loving protection.

Read More »