Croatia – becoming a heart in the Father
Fr. Christoph Horn from Switzerland, Rector of the two Shrines in Croatia, spent 10 weeks last March, May and June with the Croatian Schoenstatt Movement. He re-established contacts that had been lost due to the pandemic. Together they prepared spiritually for the installation of the Father Symbol in the Ivanovici Shrine in September of this year.
July 13, 2021
During his pastoral visits in Croatia, Father Horn always makes it a point to listen to the local people, to make joint decisions in meetings, to celebrate Mass with those responsible for the Movement, and to give them spiritual impulses. This also includes visiting the families of his co-workers.
When the earth shook
In Zagreb, where earthquakes killed people and destroyed many buildings in March and December 2020, the significant damage can still be seen. Churches, like the Zagreb Cathedral, cannot be used as places of worship for years to come, and some have been replaced by assembly churches. It is a good thing that the Schoenstatt Family in Zagreb is characterized by great cohesion. Through donations collected together, it was possible to help a family to rebuild their destroyed house. It is also helpful for this region that interested diocesan priests were found there who gladly support the Schoenstatt communities.
In Croatia – Landscaping at the shrine in Ivanovici
At the shrine in Ivanovici, which was inaugurated in 2018, it was possible to build connecting paths to the shrine last month. At the intersection of these paths, the architect depicted the well-known Schoenstatt symbol in a circle (see photo). The symbols of the Eucharist, chalice and host will also be added in the wider area.
A scepter for Mary
Pilgrimages of women and mothers to both Shrines took place in May with very good numbers of participants for pandemic conditions, 70 and 50 mothers respectively. They presented the Blessed Mother with a scepter (see photo) that Mary, with her maternal help, will take over the scepter in the manifold needs of this time, world and Church, will prove effective. Some mothers expressed their great confidence in her by sealing the Covenant of Love.
Preparation for the installation of the Father Symbol
On September 18th of this year, the Father Symbol will be placed in Ivanovici, an artistically designed eye that wants to point to God’s unconditional love, faithfulness and vigilant concern for all people and His earth. One year later, in August 2022, the Father Symbol will be placed in the Shrine of Mala Subotica.
Many local communities have gladly embraced and spread the “A Heart in the Father” retreat as a guide to life. Father Horn wrote seven reflections on the Father Symbol for the retreat theme, which were sent to a large number of members of the Croatian Schoenstatt Family on seven consecutive Saturdays. The addressees, in turn, copied the reflections for others or forwarded them electronically. In this way, these annual retreats had an amazingly wide distribution. Everyone received a photograph of the Father Symbol and the common preparatory prayer along with the contemplation texts.
Now new suggestions for personal conversation with God were added. Especially the group of women and mothers became involved in this preparation and now tries to find the traces of divine providence and guidance in the daily evening prayer and to become grateful for the daily gifts of Father.
Cooperation with the national pilgrimage place Marija Bistrica in Croatia
The 15th century black miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary in this shrine, which was declared a national shrine in 1971, attracts many thousands of people every year, some of whom come on pilgrimage on foot from far away.
In the forecourt there is a large field altar where masses are celebrated outdoors and confessions are heard. In the midst of this, a devotional space has now been created where adoration takes place on weekends during confession times. On a nearby hill, a large Stations of the Cross have been built with life-size sculptures. There Father Horn was invited to serve for two weeks hearing confessions and celebrating Mass. He writes: “It was an enriching experience for me, especially because in Marija Bistrica the ‘Croatian heart’ really beats and I could absorb many things. There were many contacts also with priests. I was very well received by the five who are constantly serving at the shrine.”
Read more: Croatia a family full of passion