Schoenstatt’s Contribution in the Political Sphere
Experiences of Four Schoenstatters in the World of Politics and Public Service
By: Pablo Arias.
The first International Forum over Schoenstatt in Public Service was held this past 21st of September by the Schoenstatt Family in Costa Rica via Facebook Live. Four panelists from various Latin-American countries brought distinct perspectives about the contributions of officials in administrative and public positions as a proposal to current challenges.
Words of Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello, from the Vatican
After a welcome by the Former-Deputy and -Minister of Economy in Costa Rica, Mayi Antillón, by the moderator, the Legislative Advisor of Paraguay, Christa Rivas, the forum began with a greeting and message from Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello, Secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life of the Holy See. He emphasized the importance of the work that the laity do in bringing about Schoenstatt’s mission in the world, especially those who are in positions of public service, being instruments of covenant with God and Mary to transmit the faith and to form a new society.
Message of Fr. José Luis Correa Lira of the Americas Leadership Team
Next, Fr. José Luis Correa Lira, Coordinator of Schoenstatt in the Americas, delivered his message beginning with the premise that: “… currently, we know that politics, for obvious reasons, has a bad reputation. Now, we need to exercise and demonstrate with actions that good politics is a vocation that is accompanied by the Church.” Fr. Correa expressed that this task is a moral obligation which should focus on defending the human dignity and rights, seeking the common good, and, like all vocations, is a path of sanctity that should base every action in ethical principles, animated by love for all and committed to Gospel values and the Magisterium of the Church, particularly with regard to social doctrine.
He ended by emphasizing three areas that apply to the Church Militant with politics: defending life from conception to natural death, family based on marriage, and lastly, the education of children as a right and responsibility of parents.
Two Questions for Reflection
Two questions were posed to each guest to reflect on their Schoenstatt spirituality in political endeavors, from legislative to executive positions and at different regional and national departmental levels. The questions were: “How has Schoenstatt marked your vocation of public service?” and “How are we helping to forge a new Christian social order that solves the big economic, social, and political problems that affect Latin America?” From these two vantage points, the panelists responded and reflected from their personal perspectives.
Sebastián Villarejo, Paraguay: Leadership that Ignites
Sebastián Villarejo, a deputy of Paraguay, highlighted the passion for a mission that arises from our authenticity that creates a chain reaction; a vision from the Covenant that invites us to give and receive hearts, taking ownership of the convictions he has formed through his personal history within the movement, and establishing priorities based on Father Kentenich’s pedagogical instruments: “… The latter must be clear to have clarity in focus and to work to transform the world for the common good and the new generations”, Villarejo expressed.
He added: “Our mission requires leadership that transmits the values like fire that ignites. It is not enough to promote the love of the Blessed Mother and to pray. Rather, we must be her hands and feet that build up the Kingdom of God. Today’s world violates the dignity of the person. The mission of Schoenstatt implies that each person and their dignity are central. Conviction in the mission should be so clear and strong that, in some sense, individuality can be lost, and at the same time, remain free, just, and organic in the midst of a world filled with fanaticism and rage, to always act under these premises so that there is the possibility of generating empathy to restore dignity, to place the person at the center, and to build a new community with passion and dedication.”
Sergio Giacaman García, Chile: Service is a Vocation
Sergio Giacaman, Intendant (highest representative of the president of the republic) of the Bío-Bío Region of Chile, spoke of his experience in the Schoenstatt youth and how it instilled in him the connection with the movement to learn to feel how like our father and founder, and in this way outlined his action: “Service is a vocation that must take root without seeking privilege and personal benefit, … but rather, to serve others, and a public servant must focus on ensuring the common good.
This ideal is formed within the experience of Schoenstatt, by connecting with the Blessed Mother and the shrine, by working to be an irresistible question mark reflected more by action rather than speaking, and its motivation arises from the testimony of Father Kentenich which allowed him to have the conviction that in each person is a treasure that is God, and that his work has to do with defending human dignity, seeking justice in reality and with the passion that is mobilized for the other,” he concluded.
Xavier Lazo, Ecuador: Make a Commitment with Your Gifts
Xavier Lazo, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Ecuador, emphasized the importance of the establishment of a style of working where officials bring a message of order, action, and above all, hope, just as our father and founder imprinted his style in his service. “The charism of his person and of the Movement is transmitted in empathy and the style of Schoenstatt urges us to fulfill our mission despite adversity.” Continuing, he pointed out that: “‘whoever has a mission must fulfill it’, and a Schoenstatter must take on their commitments through their gifts, gifts that are a task and a mission that appeal to the communion that God shares with us.”
In addition, he emphasized the need to stop using resources and to leave a mark by managing them from abundance and not from scarcity. This is achieved by empathy and sensitivity that transmits a philosophy of work that achieves long-term policies that remain, are inclusive, and are well designed to guarantee better opportunities for all. According to Lazo, “one must have knowledge in deepening the subjects that compete, to be able to defend and visualize them before putting them into practice. A gift becomes a task and this task should give positive results to achieve a more just society and quality of life through specific programs and projects.”
Miguel Treviño, Mexico: Calling, Dignity, and Hope
At the same time, Miguel Treviño, Mayor of San Pedro, Monterrey, Mexico recounted his personal story of entering the political sphere and summarized that the seal of Schoenstatt in his service is given through: the call, as a vocation, rather than a distant dream, where we must give a response to the opportunity to act by listening to the heart of God and discernment; dignity, which is thinking about the future and that new generations may see politics as an opportunity to transform society; and hope, which may seem impossible because of the circumstances at times, but that the work must always be done in prayer, leaving it in the hands of God.
Regarding what he does to forge a new social order, he mentioned that each person can act and influence their field, with the creation of policies that contribute to guaranteeing the rights of all people and that dignify politics. Treviño expressed that, “the new order starts from creating cities and policies that respond to the needs of the citizen, from the scale which the official can act.”
Drawing close to God and others through the Covenant of Love
Through the personal experience of each of the invited panelists, it was possible to identify ourselves with the seal of Schoenstatt imprinted in the faithful and the most faithful duty of the state that corresponds to each person, and living their covenant of love through their vocation, which invites each one, first, to get involved in the political sphere as agents of transformation, and second, to do so from the perspective of the dignity of each human being, putting them at the center of our actions and always seeking the common good, thus restoring the primary meeting of all political action and achieving the ideal of social saint that is called to draw closer to God and to others.
A recording of the forum can be accessed through this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAPQtCJ2vu0