Universal Apostolic Confederation

“I reflect on the idea of an organization similar to the one our venerable founder envisioned for the whole world. Dreams! Of course. And for them to become a reality one day, it will take a lifetime to materialize them wisely, with clear objectives and in an organized way.” These words by Father Joseph Kentenich were written in a letter dated May 22, 1916, addressed to Father Joseph Fischer – at that time a seminarian who had participated in the Marian Congregation, the organization that originated the Schoenstatt Movement – and who wanted to take the Schoenstatt ideals to Limburg, where he had been transferred.

The document is a letter like so many others written by Father Kentenich, but it carries an important message, an image of the Movement at that time. Through Father Joseph Kentenich’s account, it is possible to detect how Schoenstatt acquired its own characteristics and expressions. Through it one can perceive the rapid growth of the Movement and the means used to expand the Schoenstatt Work. Another important factor is the announcement of the Universal Apostolic Confederation, which is one of the Movement’s goals.

We can ask ourselves: What does this century-old letter have to do with the Schoenstatt Movement today? What does it have to do with me? In this new century in which the expression “Schoenstatt on the go” is gaining new life, we see that the Movement was already born on the go, it is an important indication of the missionary and apostolic origin of the international Work. We have fulfilled the desires that the Founder carried within himself more than one hundred years ago.


What the Founder says

“What we want is to become instruments of Mary. The weaker and poorer the instrument, the more the light of Mary’s glory will shine through our works,” writes Father Kentenich in another part of the document. It is one of the first entries in which he reveals the desire to extend the Movement to other lands, because he sees it as a strong signal from Divine Providence. The Founding Father points out to Father Fischer some guidelines and strategies that he considers important for the mission. They are: work with young people; formation of leaders; spreading the Mater Ter Admirabilis magazine.

These guidelines fit in very well with the present time. They are fundamental points that in 2015 were embraced at the Pentecost Congress by the international Schoenstatt Family. Representatives of the Movement, gathered around the Original Shrine, identified the work with youth, families, and communication as a priority of the apostolate. In 2022, the apostolate remains a strong focus for the new edition of the Pentecost Congress.

We respond to your request

How do we carry out this work with young people, families, and communication? Father answers in his letter: “Vallendar, or more precisely our chapel with the MTA [the Original Shrine], must remain at the center of everything”. It is from the Shrine that the apostolate becomes fruitful to fulfill Schoenstatt’s mission and purposes. By taking families and youth to the Shrine, or by taking the Shrine to the families, as it happens in the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign, it is possible to collaborate with the Mother and Queen in her mission as educator and shaper of leaders.

Furthermore, communication plays a fundamental and strategic role in this sense. A Schoenstatt communication is only authentic when it originates from the Shrine, as an extension of the Shrine, and returns to the Shrine, drawing people to it. Today we can also collaborate by spreading the Schoenstatt media (for example schoenstatt.com / schoenstatt.org) or simply by communicating daily the message of the Covenant of Love, of the Shrine, of the Mother and Queen among our acquaintances.

“If we commit ourselves to aspire to an extraordinary love for Mary, to a self-sanctification greater than that of most people, and to a greater dedication in both our attitude and apostolic works, Mary also commits herself to educate us towards these goals and to make use of us. She is the Virgo Fidelis, the faithful Virgin, as long as we do what she asks of us”.

To conclude the letter of May 22, Father Kentenich writes what he expects from his congregants and what he expects from us today: “All or nothing”. What is our answer?

References: Heroes of Fire, Fr. Jonathan Niehaus, 2004.