It’s not every day that a lay ecclesial movement celebrates a centenary.
On October 18, 2014, the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt turned 100 years old and celebrated with an international event at the movement’s place of origin, Schoenstatt, Germany. At least 10,000 movement members from 110 countries traveled to Schoenstatt, which is part of the town of Vallendar, to celebrate together form October 16-18. The events included a Solemn High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the Pope’s delegate, and was broadcast live by EWTN in four languages – English, Spanish, German and French and in Portuguese from an affiliate in Brazil.
It’s not every day a movement turns 100, and news has been spreading fast about this moment in Church history. Since 2009, volunteers from 10 different countries have gathered in Schoenstatt to help prepare for the centenary celebration. In the final days before the event, the original team of 30 volunteers had grown to more than 800, all working to ready things, be on hand to run the event and do "tear down and clean up" afterward. The volunteers set their private lives aside for anywhere from a few months to a few years in order to work on the immense project, but with the excitement and joy of anticipation.
An international group of 90 young men ran for 10 days around the clock carrying a torch from Pompeii to Schoenstatt. They arrived on the night of October 17 during the spectacular Jubilee Vigil, during which the pilgrims gathered to prepare spiritually for the big day. It was a deeply emotional event. There was both elation and tears of joy, as pilgrims reflected on the many ways that Schoenstatt had touched and transformed their lives.
Maria Elena Vilches traveled to Schoenstatt from Ecuador and has been part of the Schoenstatt 2014 press and communications team. She described her preparatory work this way:
Events of the Jubilee celebration included a variety of activities: visits in the original Schoenstatt Shrine, Masses in each country’s language, international presentations, music and dancing. Each day focused on a specific theme: Homecoming, Expectation, and Jubilee, and the presentations and activities were organized into four main areas, dubbed “tents” – Society, Pedagogy, Youth, Family and Marriage and Church. The tents showcased the primary areas in which the Schoenstatt Movement impacts the universal Church.
Josef and Rosa Maria Weiland, originally from Germany and now living in Switzerland, were in charge of the Family Tent for the Jubilee. They had the privilege of compiling family support projects from all over the world and arranging them for presentation to the attendees. Joseph explained his reaction to this task:
We’ve been fascinated by different types of projects from different countries, for example, South America. These are the missionary projects, such as Family Missions [in which entire families serve together in mission territories]. Or, for example, projects for the divorced and remarried. I dream that this will be possible in Europe someday. In addition, we’ve been fascinated by projects in which families start social initiatives – families committed to other families, families committed to children. There are a lot of initiatives in South America. The social situation in Europe is certainly different than in South America, but there are also social needs. We can learn from each other.
The Schoenstatt Jubilee was occasion to celebrate for the entire movement, which refers to itself as the Schoenstatt Family, and for the entire Church as well. Elaborate and joyful celebrations took place simultaneously in every place worldwide where Schoenstatt is located.
"When a movement in the Catholic Church is celebrating its one hundredth birthday, it reveals the fact for all to see that the Spirit of God has been very active in spreading the genuine, original mission of this particular call within the Church and making it fruitful for the Universal Church,” said Schoenstatt Father Gerold Langsch, Movement Director for the United States. He explained:
While the events in Schoenstatt, Germany have concluded, the Schoenstatt Family Jubilee is still in progress. October 23-26, the Schoenstatt Family will visit Rome and meet privately with Pope Francis on October 25 in the Paul VI Hall.
Through Cardinal Lajolo, Pope Francis sent a special message to the Schoenstatt Family reflecting his gratitude for the movement and its founder, Father Joseph Kentenich. The Cardinal delivered the Pope’s message during the Jubilee events.
Along with Pope Francis, the whole Church celebrates the centenary of the International Schoenstatt Movement.
Marge Fenelonis a Catholic author, columnist, and speaker and a regular guest on Catholic radio. She’s written several books about Marian devotion and Catholic family life, including Strengthening Your Family: a Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) and Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom (Ave Maria Press, 2013). Find out more about Marge at www.margefenelon.com.