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Apostolic Movement

Members of the Secular Institutes meet in Schoenstatt

By: Sr. Christina-Maria Greiner

From February 23-25, 28 members of the six Schoenstatt Institutes gathered for a conference in Schoenstatt on Mount Moriah. This year’s conference was a continuation of the series of encouraging, familial and substance-rich gatherings, and was dedicated for the second time to the evangelical counsel on poverty. The diverse aspects of the spirit of poverty, which is specifically characterized by the state of life and the mission of the respective community, manifest, as in a mosaic, what the founder of Schoenstatt understands as “Marian-apostolic poverty”.

It is better to travel light

On the first morning of the conference, the circle was widened by the possibility of online participation, so that other people from the Institutes who were interested had the opportunity to participate in the talks and exchange.

Fr. Jakob Busch from the Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers introduced the participants to the topic through an online contribution, revisiting the minimalist trend in connection with Fr. Kentenich’s understanding of poverty. The Schoenstatt founder was not concerned with absolute renunciation of earthly goods, but rather with the right attachment to things, which could mean both enjoyment and renunciation. “It’s better to travel light,” says a song by the band Silbermond, according to Busch. “Less is more, if it’s of value to us.”

Ladies of Schoenstatt and Harald M. Knes, Brother of Mary (Photo: Bruno Mucha)

De-cluttering the center. Poverty as an opportunity for God to give

In his lecture, Harald M. Knes, a Brother of Mary, returned to the theme of the conference. The title is provocative: How can poverty be an opportunity when it is lived as a threat and insecurity? “We feel poverty not only in material and economic difficulties, but also in the lack of strength and time, skills and vocations for our communities.”

And this is where poverty is revealed as an opportunity for God to give: God needs empty vessels, as the Founder said, which are open to him and into which he can pour his goodness. Fr. Kentenich’s life example makes it clear that “we cannot be completely assured on earth, but rather our ultimate security is in God.” This security is the freedom of a child who knows he is upheld by his heavenly Father.

Dr. Peter Wolf, a member of the Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests, in a lecture delved into Fr. Kentenich’s attitude of poverty: his confidence in God’s will, his indifference to the things of the world and his dedication to his task had enabled Fr. Kentenich to develop an astonishing fruitfulness under the conditions of the Dachau concentration camp.

Institute of Diocesan Priests (Photo: Bruno Mucha)

The forms of poverty lived

The perceptions of the forms of poverty lived by the different communities were also very enriching for all the participants. Following Christ in a spirit of poverty is different for a married couple with children than it is for a diocesan priest or a Sister of Mary.

The members of the Schoenstatt Institutes live a Marian-apostolic poverty: “God has granted us gifts so that we may continue to give”. As an evangelical counsel, poverty is for us a way of living our attachment to God and making it fruitful.”

The examples of members from the Institutes in Romania, Peru and Chile broadened our vision of the existential poverty of individuals and of our mission as Secular Institutes to make God’s love tangible, even and especially in the misery of the poorest, and to find and serve God among the poor.

Sisters of Mary and Institute of Families (Photo: Bruno Mucha)

Community is a richness

The meetings of the Institutes serve not only to be formed together, but also to experience each other as a family and to strengthen each other in the common mission. According to one of the participants, this experience always gives rise to new happiness in one’s own vocation and appreciation for the other communities. There were also lively conversations and much laughter during meals and evening get-togethers. And all the participants agreed: “Our community amongst ourselves and with our Father and Founder is truly a richness”.



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