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Apostolic Movement

Pentecost Congress 2022: Profound experiences and insights from Schoenstatt International.

Carolin Brehm/Heinrich Brehm

At the October meeting of the German Schoenstatt Movement, the initiatives of the second International Pentecost Congress, held in June 2022, were revived as part of an overview of the life of the Movement. The aim of these international Pentecost congresses is to promote the active contact of Schoenstatters from all over the world, to enable exchange and reflection within an international context, and to share and transmit the current of the Covenant of Love, as Sister M. Veronika Riechel expressed during a conversation on the stage of the auditorium in the Adoration Church.

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Sister M. Veronika Riechel moderated the topic “Impulses of the International Pentecost Congress” (Photo: Brehm).

Sister Veronika was part of the German delegation at the Pentecost Congress together with Father Ludwig Güthlein, Diana and Lukas Schreiber, Maria and Alexander Paul and Sister M. Vernita Weiss.

Father Felix Geyer, who was part of the preparatory team for the Congress, had already touched the subject of the Pentecost Congress in his homily at the opening Mass of the October Conference, which was co-organized by the Schoenstatt Family Movement.

You are a letter inscribed in human hearts by Christ

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Homily: Father Felix Geyer (Photo: Brehm)

Father Felix’s impression of the experiences at the Pentecost Congress was based on the biblical text that was emphasized at the Pentecost Congress: “You show that you are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:3). Thus, he shared his experiences motivated by what God has inscribed in his heart.

First of all, he spoke of the attitudes that had developed during the congress: the attitude of listening, of learning and of openness. A spirit of perceptiveness and interest in others, not only accepting them, but also feeling curiosity and great interest in their experiences, permeated every day of the Congress. For Father Felix, this represents an essential sign of the synodal unity.

There is no body in Schoenstatt at the international level that has the power to make decisions that are binding for all. Instead of such a body, there is an attitude of perception and dialogue with others and of involvement with many different groups, of seeking allies. The cooperation between many different branches, laity and clergy, men and women, is part of the synodal unity in the Movement.

Not polarization, but dialogue

Sister M. Vernita Weiß (Foto: Brehm)

He then mentioned the gift of “rebellious hearts”. Already on the first day of the Congress, the young participants had expressed that they were not sufficiently represented in the program. As a result, the coordinating team changed some of the plans and gave the youth group the opportunity to contribute. In this way, dialogue rather than polarization took place. Among other things, the process triggered the urge to ask over and over again, where is the rebelliousness in my heart, where have I become accustomed to a “this is the way things are?”

For Father Felix, the Pentecost Congress and the investment in being international were made worthwhile not because of the decisions and the outcomes, but rather because of the hopeful certainty that the Holy Spirit invests in Schoenstatt, which provides the confidence that in all these different people the Church can develop and grow.

The Church on the new shore is here now

The participants on the podium in the assembly hall characterized the Pentecost Congress as

“very self-confident”, “close to reality”, “we were kindred spirits”, “honest with each other”, “fighting for positions”, “very diverse in the way of living Schoenstatt”, “an authentic gathering of generations and nations”, “standing together and for each other”.

There were two special moments at the Congress for Sister M. Vernita. One was the moment when the older generation symbolically handed over the torches to the younger generation during a celebration in the Adoration Church. The other moment was a contribution drafted by Maria and Alexander Paul, the result of a small group.

This gave way to the image of the ark arriving at the new shore, which expresses what the Spirit of God wants to bring about in the Schoenstatt Movement. The Church on the new shore, the one Schoenstatt was created for, is here and now. Now is the time to enter this place. Each one, as an original personality with different gifts, is called to step onto the shore and make his or her contribution there.

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“Arriving at the new shore” – Photo: Maria Elina, Argentina (Photo: PressOffice Schoenstatt, Brehm)

We are witnesses of our time

Alexander Paul (Foto: Brehm)

Alexander Paul named four points that have become important for participants under the age of 30: The younger generation wants to be heard and to have a voice, also at the international level.

They want to have their own youth congress. They want to come into contact with all branches and learn to understand them and be able to contribute their own vision of the world. “We are witnesses of our time, we do contribute with our reality, and we also want to work on the actual problems of young people.” 

Alex Paul also expressed a request made by the youth to the participants in the October Congress: “Please do not speak on behalf of the youth, we are all personalities in our own right. We want to communicate eye-to-eye and young people don’t have a single opinion either,” which is why it is important to listen to them.

A polyphony in which one voice does not prevail at the expense of the others

The Pentecost Congress showed that Schoenstatt wants to renew and help to form the Church from within, Diana and Lukas Schreiber stressed.

“The Pentecost Congress made it clear that we, as a Schoenstatt Movement, are part of the Church. We are a renewal movement, but not with an outside view, as something opposed to the Church. We act as Church, we are Church,” said Diana Schreiber.

Especially within the current turmoil and difficult questions about the future of the Church, Schoenstatt will not distance itself from, or even oppose the Church. “Nor do we want to say: we know how to do it, the Church would just have to listen to us.

” That would be dissociation, arrogance. “But we are Church, a part of the Church, therefore we also suffer in the Church and with the Church.”

Diana and Lukas Schreiber (Foto: Brehm)

Father Kentenich: neither conservative nor liberal

In view of the polyphony and disagreement on many concrete issues, which are likely to increase in the Church, Lukas Schreiber added a second reflection on the Pentecost Congress: “We are already experiencing dissimilarity in our movement. But we are all united in the Covenant of Love, in the Shrine, in our common Father and founder, Father Kentenich.” This integrating charism of the Schoenstatt Movement is urgently needed today.

Father Kentenich was anything but conservative and anything but liberal. “The Schoenstatt charism of the new man in the new community has to do with a polyphony in which one voice does not impose itself at the expense of the others, but where there is room to harmonize with one another. A polyphony that becomes a consensus at a higher level, because all are one in Jesus Christ, in their love for the Church and for the Triune God.”

Firmly rooted and hopeful, we move into the future.

Father Felix Geyer, who had collaborated in the preparation of the Pentecost Congress and had contributed quite a bit to the drafting of the “Fraternal Letter” published by the Congress, concluded by stressing that the final letter of the Congress would not be a memorandum this time, as it was in 2015.

The 2015 memorandum would still retain all its value. Regarding the Fraternal Letter of the Congress of Pentecost 2022, inspired by the Letters of the Apostles, addressed to all those who have something to do with Schoenstatt, it has a testimonial and encouraging nature, but not an absolute one. “There is a lot of content in this letter. And it is good to keep in mind that we have not pondered every word. It is motivational.”

It was a process that expresses what was gathered from among the participants of the Congress. This means that the individual words did not have to be approved by the international Schoenstatt, these words want to describe something more”. The words “Firmly rooted and hopeful, we go into the future” especially stuck with him. This is the attitude with which the Pentecost Congress discussed the Kentenich case. “We are firmly rooted in tradition – an image of growth – and yet a very dynamic image, we are headed towards the future.” In these images of rootedness and of going forward, an ambivalence is expressed, which conveys the attitude of how Schoenstatt wants to deal with the Kentenich Cause: “learning, being open, fearless, wanting to understand, listening to each one personally”.



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