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Apostolic Movement

The joy of the Covenant of Love in concrete actions.

By: Sister M. Nilza P. da Silva

The Sisters of Mary opened the doors of the Pilgerhaus, in the original Schoenstatt, so that a group of Ukrainian refugees could stay in a dignified place, where they have room, board and even German classes. The Covenant of Love is the key to welcoming each of the 22 refugees, where they feel loved and valued.

In the vicinity of the Original Shrine, shouts of joy can be heard from the courtyard and children running playfully back and forth. One little boy rides his bicycle fast and joyfully, another smiles, opens his arms and runs to give a hug. Motherly glances accompany them, in a combination of concern and hope.

Covenant of Love with all the peoples of the world

The Pilgerhaus, the house for pilgrims located a hundred meters from the Original Shrine, has been a German home since April 13 for 22 people – 13 adults and 9 children – who left eastern Ukraine because of the war. The house is simple but cozy, just as Our Lady’s home might have been.

It also houses a group of sisters from various countries who welcome pilgrims from all over the world. The apostolic surrender is lived day by day, with and for the Church, in a beautiful realization that the Covenant of Love that we seal with Mary, as Father Kentenich said, becomes “more and more a Covenant of Love with the Holy Trinity, a fraternal Covenant of Love, a Covenant of Love with the members and branches of the Church, but also a Covenant of Love with all the peoples of the world!” 1

Offering God’s goodness and mercy

Sister Maria Margarita Seiser expresses that by offering a home to refugees, the sisters would like to “share with them an experience of God’s goodness and mercy.” This is Schoenstatt’s mission: to make God the merciful Father tangible through Mary, who gives us the grace of shelter”.

Kateryna, from Mariupol, with a 15-year-old son and twin daughters aged 4, says that what she likes most about living in this house is “above all the kind and helpful people”.  She misses her husband, her parents, her brother who stayed in Ukraine, and says that she likes this place very much and defines Schoenstatt with one word: “Tranquility”. We can translate this expression of hers as: grace of shelter.

Schoenstatt is an experience of grace

But for this grace to act, we need to live the “nothing without us”. The whole house was restructured so that the Ukrainians have, in addition to their rooms, other spaces reserved just for them, where they can eat, have conversations, play with the children… they even have a kitchen of their own. The sisters provide the meals, but they can, for example, make their own dinner, so they can keep some of their culture and customs.

“The people here are friendly,” adds Natalia, who left two children and her parents in the city of Dnipro. She came with her youngest son, age 10, daughter-in-law, sister, and niece. The first days after arrival are difficult, because, besides having to re-establish themselves mentally and emotionally, even without speaking the language, they have to organize their documents, familiarize themselves with the new culture, traditions and German laws. For her, to say Schoenstatt means the same as saying: “Grace”.

A life in Covenant awakens reciprocity

“After all they have already experienced with the war, they can now experience our Schoenstatt atmosphere,” says Sister Maria Margarita, and describes the new residents with the same characteristics as Katheryna, friendly and willing: “Already on the first day, some of them asked where they could help us. So, we accepted, and they helped us with the dishes and in the garden. If I had to describe the Ukrainians here in one sentence, I would say that they are very sociable and hard-working people, but they are also very willing to do anything and most of them learn quite a lot of German.”

the joy

In June they were offered a two-week intensive German course, in which they participated with great interest. Their joy at being able to begin to understand and speak in the same language as others who live in the same home in the shadow of the Schoenstatt Shrine is visible.

1 Conference to the Schoenstatt Family 31. 12.1965.  In: Propheta locutus est, Vol. II, pp. 245-284.


with your loved ones

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