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Schoenstatt
Apostolic Movement

Romanian youth chose Schoenstatt to start 2024. Profound experiences

By: Claudia Brehm / Rejoice Group

The youth group Rejoice, from Romania, visited Schoenstatt, accompanied by two Sisters of Mary from Timisoara, Sister Erika-Maria Bukovics and Sister M. Andreea Deac, and by the diocesan priest, Father Piry Radulov, co-responsible for the student ministry of the diocese. Their testimonies reflect the depth of the experiences they had during those days.

The students themselves report on these days full of special experiences:

From December 27, 2023 to January 3, 2024, the young members of the youth groups of the Diocesan Youth Center of Timisoara spent a different New Year’s Eve together in Schoenstatt, Germany. We had the opportunity to get to know the spirituality of the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement and to spend the New Year with other young people from other countries before the Blessed Sacrament.

Through this pilgrimage, the youth were able to learn more about the founder of the Movement, Father Joseph Kentenich. One of them commented: “When we went into Father Joseph Kentenich’s room, we were fascinated by the simplicity of the time, everything was intact just as he had left it, his desk with sheets of paper and pens, shelves full of books, photos of him and of important people in his life. For a few moments we imagined him sitting at that desk on any given day, writing or reading, creating the foundation on which the entire Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement is built today. At that moment we understood the profoundness of the place, but also the identity of the Movement, which every time it was tested by the difficulties of the times, it became stronger and more ready to remain with us and for us.”

The Original Shrine

A young woman summarized her impressions of the Original Shrine: “It was impressive to see that on every mount, on every hill and near every house of the many and varied communities there was an exact replica of the Original Shrine. However, each had its own symbol to represent the respective community. For me, it was as if I had never left the Original Shrine, and I felt that Mary was looking at us sweetly. We had the opportunity to spend the last hour of 2023 and the first minutes of 2024 before the Blessed Sacrament in the Original Shrine. Although fireworks could be heard outside, there was silence in the Shrine so that everyone was able to have their personal conversation with Jesus. At some point we were joined by other young people from other countries, and I was very happy to experience this turn of the year in this way.”

The Covenant of Love

The Covenant of Love, a central component of Schoenstatt, also had an impact on the youth. They describe it as follows: “The Covenant of Love is simply a way of giving oneself to the Blessed Mother. During this pilgrimage, four young people made this Covenant of Love. It made an impact on us because we realized that they were ready to live what they declared there.”

Visit to the Sisters of Mary on Mount Schoenstatt

This is how the youth experienced their visit to the Sisters of Mary on Mount Schoenstatt: “The community of the Sisters on Mount Schoenstatt is large and very open, and all the Sisters we met smiled warmly at the youth present. One of our young men was very impressed by the atmosphere: “Where was I? I can say from the bottom of my heart that it was like a trip to the world of the saints, I felt like I was in heaven, I didn’t even know what day or time it was. The sisters received us with great care and interest and explained to us how they live and how they strive to love God. God has plans for each one of us, and I am convinced that this was also the plan that allowed us to get to know this spirituality. I also thank the Blessed Mother for her intercession and help with everything”.

Visit to the Schoenstatt Fathers

The Schoenstatt Fathers also left their impression. A young man remarked about them: “During this pilgrimage I was also able to get to know the Schoenstatt Fathers through Father José Luis Correa Lira, who left a remarkable impression on me in terms of formation, pedagogy and contribution to the life of the Church. The Holy Mass, the homilies, and the openness of the priests of the Community awakened in me the patience I needed to overcome certain difficulties. I was impressed by the way they keep an actual imprint of Father Kentenich’s hand, on which the Fathers place their hand on certain occasions in their community as a way of identifying themselves with Father Kentenich as father and founder of the Movement and of their Institute. The visit to the Fathers showed me that God’s love has no limits. He chooses our path and helps us to follow it at the right time without deviating from it”.

Visit to the families on Mount Nazareth

The Schoenstatt Movement is very diverse, so the Schoenstatt Community of Families was also an important part of the experience for the young pilgrims: “The Schoenstatt Community of Families has a chapel on Mount Nazareth. What is impressive about this Shrine is the statue of the Holy Family, because from the front it looks like nothing unusual, Jesus in the center of Joseph and Mary, but when we turn the statue around, we see Joseph and Mary holding hands, something we had never seen before. To the left of the altar hangs a net overflowing with photos of families who have visited this chapel and who want their hearts to always remain in Schoenstatt, even if they are families from different corners of the world. One thing that impressed me was the moment when we had to look for a stone to write our last name, that moment when my brother and I wrote on a small stone our last name and the date when we had placed the stone at the entrance of the chapel, at that moment, although my mother and father were not with us, we felt that we had placed that stone as a family.”

With the Brothers of Mary Community

When Father Joseph Kentenich founded this apostolic movement, he wanted everyone who belonged to the Movement to feel free to make their own wise decisions and choose a suitable state of life for themselves. During these days, the youth also got to know the community of the Brothers of Mary: “With all the experiences we had in Schoenstatt, we had to visit Mr. Amrein, a Brother of Mary on Mount Tabor. With great openness and joy he told us what he had learned in the work and in the community of the Brothers of Mary. He opened our hearts and helped us realize how important it is to live every moment with the same enthusiasm, regardless of whether it is a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon. Through his engaging narration, he showed us that we too, like the different colors – Mr. Amrein had trained as an art painter – each of us is a splash of a different, but very important color for our world. He encouraged us to be authentic, to follow our conscience and stressed the importance of our relationship with the Virgin Mary.”

Adoration Church

Schoenstatt sprawls over several hills and a valley and is crowned by the beautiful Adoration Church. One of the young men commented, “One evening we had the opportunity to spend time together at Father Kentenich’s tomb, asking him for help in our needs and expressing our gratitude for the moments of grace we experienced at this place of pilgrimage. I thank God for Father Joseph Kentenich’s gift of Schoenstatt for our times!”

My experience was filled with learning and inner joy

A young diocesan priest from the diocese of Timisoara, who accompanied the group, called Schoenstatt the “Mount Athos of Germany.” He also said: “Schoenstatt’s spirituality offers many opportunities for personal development and freedom! My experience in this community was one of learning and inner joy, where values play a central role. I felt so much peace amid this spiritual environment! The atmosphere of devotion, the games, the walks, and the prayer surrounded me with positive energy and helped me to develop a closer relationship with my neighbor, but also with God. I will ask Our Lady to help us build a chapel in Romania – Timisoara!”.

The young people are convinced after their visit to Schoenstatt: There is room for everyone in the Schoenstatt Movement, it is a movement that teaches values that surely make God and Mary rejoice. It is a spirituality through which we can easily learn to serve God in our daily lives with great freedom.

*Student group ” Rejoice”, from the Diocese of Timisoara

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