The family feast AT HOME, in Germany, awakens creativity
The Schoenstatt Families Festival held at the Original Shrine, face-to-face encounter at HOME, as well as a virtual encounter
Zoom conference, Padlet link, YouTube, dialogue rooms, cameras, control monitors, live streaming, a few families in front of the Original Shrine, and about 200 registered at home, in front of monitors in their living room or on the balcony: an unusual family festival that the Schoenstatt Families Branch in Germany prepared, with a lot of creativity, in the middle of the pandemic.
Claudia and Heinrich Brehm
Under the motto “Together Strong”, the festival took place on Saturday, May 29, and started with a sunny day, blue skies, and much joy in the place where the Schoenstatt Movement began more than 100 years ago; the best conditions for a great family experience.
An interactive map on the Padlet, managed by the Liebl family, from Wildsteig, in Upper Bavaria, in which families could register, allowed you to see the location of the participating families. The families were mostly from Germany, but there were also families connected from Switzerland and South Tyrol in Italy. This digital networking was fully in line with the festival’s objective: to experience and celebrate the value of ‘Together Strong’, despite the required physical distancing due to the pandemic.
The value of being together
On the live stage, in front of Schoenstatt’s chapel of grace, balloons waved, the festival song was heard, and three candles were lit representing all those who were sharing. For 10 minutes, participating families were randomly divided into virtual groups to meet and share ideas about the question: “If we were to visit you today, what experience would we have?”
Three coordinating couples then invited individual families from the Zoom conference to share their moments of community life. The Bergmann couple shared what sustains them as a couple. The Kieninger family made it clear what sustains them as a family, and the Kröper couple recounted how God supports their family.
Taking those shared experiences to the Church and society
“Canceling the festival because of the pandemic was not an option at all,” Manuela and Peter Miller, leaders of the organization team, explained in a brief statement. “However, we didn’t want an online family festival, but a family festival AT HOME, where families could get together in real life.” Families had experienced community life intensively during the time of pandemic.
“Above all, let us experience today that we are a crisis-proof family, that we are sustainable, that we are US. A WE that goes beyond our own family. We have experienced that together we are stronger.” It is now necessary to bring this experience to the Church and to society, to share it with others. That is why, on this day, this common celebration, the family picnic with one or more families at home is a good start.
Encounter with a picnic
Once the inaugural “click & meet” event was over, the program of the Families Festival AT HOME continued with each participant’s initiative: families invited other families to their homes, as many as possible in the different counties, depending on the incidence of the pandemic. Happily, the meetings were held after this year and a half of distance and isolation. In the garden, on an excursion, playing games – the scavenger hunt was a great success – in the conversations, in prayer. “Everything was wonderful, both the adults and especially the children really enjoyed being together again, being able to spend the day together.”
Motivational videos and prayer
Those who wished to stay at home were able to use the digital discussion suggestions as a starting point for their dialogue. The videos prepared by several couples dealt with the religious education of the children, life from the sacraments, maintaining the marital relationship, the power of transformation and mission, the meaning of suffering, the development of a spiritual agenda, the sustainable lifestyle in the family and the configuration of the marital stage when the children leave home.
In addition, between 14:00 and 18:30, there was an opportunity to pray online with and for others with a wide variety of intentions. The families had the opportunity to send their prayer requests beforehand, which were mentioned in the chapel at the Families House.
Invited to “click and pray” in the Original Shrine
At the end of the Families Festival, a blessing celebration took place at the Original Shrine, in which families were able to participate from home through a live broadcast. Symbolically, the WE, around which the whole day evolved, was expressed through a long yellow ribbon at the altar, on which the names of all the participants in the festival were written.
Reviewing the experiences of the day
Before the blessing, everyone was invited to review the day’s experiences. Images of the festival from the Padlet were shown. Four families who had a picnic with others shared their experiences. In this way, the happy moments and the beautiful experiences that marked the day, were collected and present in the celebration. The blessing ceremony was in charge of the three couples hosting the opening of the festival.
The texts were sensitive, poignant, and appropriate, and described the Original Shrine as a place where life and daily routine can be brought before God. The songs also played a special role. Due to coronavirus regulations, they could not be sung live, but were played as pre-recorded clips with appropriate and everyday images of everyday family life. The reading of Matthew 28:16-20, when Jesus expresses, “I am with you every day until the end of the world,” wanted to encourage everyone to be families ready to go, into the future.
The renewal of the marriage vows with the words: “Be certain, I am with you every day of your life”, as well as the renewal of the Covenant of Love with Mary and with God, who has Mary as the bearer, and the afternoon blessing gave strength and energy to return to daily life and live as a family the “Together Strong”.
To see the motivating photos of the families participating in the festival from their homes, access the following link: https://de.padlet.com/familienfestival/fotos