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Apostolic Movement

Schoenstatt’s General Presidium meets in Rome

By: Karen Bueno

The International Presidium of the Schoenstatt Movement is meeting in Rome from November 6-10. It is made up of representatives of all the communities of the Movement. These are the superiors and leaders of the federations and institutes, together with the International Coordination, which represents all the leagues and the Pilgrim Movement.

Most of the members are gathered in person at the International Schoenstatt Center in Rome, in Belmonte, and a few participate remotely, online. In general, the presidium meets four times a year for one-day meetings, and once a year for the closing meeting, which lasts three full days. Since some members live in distant countries, meetings are held both online and in person, with simultaneous translation in English, German and Spanish.

The role of the General Presidium

The task of the General Presidium is to be at the service of the Movement’s unity and to promote teamwork in issues of common interest.

In addition, it has the ultimate responsibility for the spiritual legacy of the Founder and for the authentic teaching according to the spirit of his charism.

The General Presidium represents the entire Schoenstatt Movement. In its relationship with the Holy See, the General Presidium is under the authority of the Pontifical Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, to which it reports periodically regarding the life and activities of the Movement.

During the first days of the meeting, the Presidency met with the members of the Curatorium of Rome, an international commission that reflects on the mission and work of the Shrine of Belmonte.

Synodality: Synod Participants Present

Among the various topics for 2023, three stand out on the agenda, according to the president of the General Presidium, Father Alexandre Awi Mello, who explains that “one of the topics is synodality and the Schoenstatt charism. We will have the opportunity to meet with three people who participated in the Synod that has just concluded. One is Sister Nathalie Becquart, who is the undersecretary of the Synod Secretariat and who has played an important role in the entire synodal process. We will also have two Schoenstatters who were at the Synod: Pedro Paulo Weizenmann and Bishop Alfredo de la Cruz Baldera, who will give their testimonies and help us to capture the spirit of the Synod”, explained Father Alexandre.

Kentenich Cause and the Schoenstatt Youth

Regarding the other two topics on the agenda, he said: “We will discuss other topics in the coming days, such as the Kentenich Cause and the different commissions that are working on it. And the third topic we call ‘the youth and the future of Schoenstatt’, because we have to be looking ahead”.

According to Father Alexandre, the multicultural nature of the presidency made it necessary to work with simultaneous interpretation, since not everyone is fluent in the same languages.
Kathleen Colunga, international leader of the Mothers’ Federation, traveled from the United States to Rome to attend this meeting and says: “I think it is more pleasant to meet in person and I wish I could be present at all the meetings. With technology, we can always meet online, however, this reduces the personal friendships that develop and you miss out on getting to know each other and the other communities better. This meeting serves as a retreat and as an encounter,” she shared.

During the meeting, the Presidency welcomed Sister Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, and Pedro Paulo Weizenmann. Bishop Baldera participated online via videoconference.

Who are the members of the General Presidium of Schoenstatt?

Each institute and federation has two representatives: the superior or general or leader and another member or director or assistant general of the community. The two international coordinators of the movement represent the leagues and the Popular Movement of Pilgrims at the international level.
As of the end of 2023, the General Presidium is made up of the following members:

Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers
Father Alexandre Awi Mello, Superior General
Father Ignacio Camacho, member of the General Directorate

Institute of the Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests
Father Christian Löhr, Rector General
Father Stefan Keller, member of the General Council

International Federation of Schoenstatt Priests
Father Alejandro Blanco, General Secretary
Father Hubert Vonlanthen, Adjunct Secretary

Institute of the Schoenstatt Brothers of Mary
Thomas M. Butz, Superior General
Pedro Dillenger, member of the General Council

Apostolic Women’s Federation
Geni Maria Hoss, General Leader
Bettina Betzner, Member of the Community Council

Institute of the Sisters of Mary
Sister M. Joanna Buckley, Superior General
Father Bernd Biberger, Director General of the Sisters of Mary

Institute of Our Lady of Schoenstatt
Sister Gertrud Pollak, Superior General
Father José Melo, Assistant General

Apostolic Federation of Schoenstatt Mothers
Kathleen Colunga, international leader
Matilde Di Batista, member of the Community Council

Schoenstatt Institute of Families
Patricia and José Köstner, Superiors General

Schoenstatt Family Federation
Raúl and Silvina Viñas, international leaders

International Coordination of the Movement
Father Arkadiusz Sosna, member of the Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers
Sister M. Cacilda Becker, member of the Institute of the Sisters of Mary

Secretary of the Presidency
Sister Antje-Maria Wunderwald, secretary. Member of the Institute of the Sisters of Mary


Translation: Maribel Acaron, USA


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