The International Festival Encounter in Schoenstatt
has finally returned
Under the motto "Back at last", the International Festival Encounter was held in Schoenstatt-Vallendar on August 22, 2021, after being suspended last year due to the pandemic. The Pilgrims' Center team, with the support of numerous volunteers, organized this gathering of international celebration.
Sister Janika Trieb
September 2, 2021
A festive international celebration in Schoenstatt
On August 22, the International Festival Encounter was held. It is celebrated every year in Schoenstatt, Vallendar, except for 2020, when it was not held due to the pandemic. The motto of the day was “Back at last”. The Pilgrims’ Center team, with the support of numerous volunteers, uses this festival to bring together people from different cultural backgrounds.
The celebration began with a festive international Mass in the Pilgrims’ Church. More than 200 people were able to participate, respecting the protective measures implemented for the coronavirus. A live transmission made it possible to participate in the celebration from home via YouTube. Various elements expressed the different nationalities of the participants: the entrance with national flags, the readings, the petitions, and the songs in different languages. An African group from Guiné Bissau and Cape Verde sang and danced to the sound of drums during the offertory.
Bishop Jörg Peters, Auxiliary Bishop of Trier, referred to the Gospel in his sermon: Jesus’ tough question to his disciples “Do you also want to leave?” (Jn. 6:67) also applies to us today. Faith challenges us to make a decision. It is not a snap of the fingers. Especially in the face of catastrophes and the threat of pandemics, faith gives us the strength to trust and to acquire renewed hope. In Schoenstatt Bishop Peters often sees a “part of the universal Church”: People from different nations gather here and express their faith and hope in a joyful way. It is important that we are encouraged not to abandon Jesus. Father Lothar Herter, Schoenstatt’s Pilgrimage Director, thanked Bishop Peters for his presence and his words of encouragement.
The weather was a miracle. It was supposed to rain non-stop.
After Mass, Bishop Peters took his time to greet those present. Someone commented afterwards, “That was the first time in my life I have ever spoken to a bishop.” The heavy downpour that fell at the end of the Mass did not prevent the visitors from lingering.
Starting at 1:30 p.m., the afternoon cultural program began outside. Dances and songs from Africa, Brazil, Croatia, Germany, and the Philippines encouraged people to dance in front of the stage. Mrs. S., who helped organize the festival with her African friends, remarked with joy that it had been a long time since they had been able to dance together and that it was finally possible to do it again here in the open air. A children’s playground attracted young families who enjoyed the festival’s fresh pancakes and popcorn.
At the end of the program of the international festival, the visitors received a burning light. With this light, everyone was invited to spiritually carry a person from their circle of acquaintances, who has been particularly affected by the pandemic or a stroke of fate, to the Chapel of Grace. Singing and praying, more than 100 people joined the procession. Father Antonio Bracht, upon arriving at the Original Shrine, prayed in different languages and gave the blessing. Many families and individuals took the opportunity to receive an individual blessing afterwards.
The Mass, including Bishop Peters’ homily in German and the offertory dance, can be accessed via YouTube.