One of the oldest movements in the Church will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, but on Wednesday its members received an early gift when they learned that the chapel where it all started was being given to them.
Father Andrew Pastore, the movement’s communications officer, explained in a May 23 interview with CNA that the Pallottine Fathers announced during their provincial assembly that “they’re actually going to give the shrine to the Schönstatt Movement as a gift for this great jubilee year in the hope that we can together move forward.”
The provincial superior of the movement, Father Theo Breitinger, added in a May 22 statement that the community received the “surprising” news with “great joy” and that the gift shows the Pallottine’s “good will.”
The movement first began on Oct. 18, 1914, when Pallottine Father Joseph Kentenich lead a group of his students in dedicating themselves to Mary in the small chapel that had served as a garden tool shed before they refurbished it.
“You can imagine 1914 was the outbreak of the First World War. Father Kentenich was looking for ways to ground these people in faith and to give them a strength that they needed to take on the challenges of the transforming world around them,” Fr. Pastore said.
“There weren’t many people in the little chapel, there was Father Kentenich and a few of the boys who were around the age of 14 to 16,” he explained.
“Fr. Kentenich just very tentatively said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Our Lady would take up her throne here and from this little place she could work throughout the course of history, the course of time, the course of the world.”
With the transfer of the original chapel, both the Pallottines and the Schönstatt movement hope that “the things that have happened in these last 100 years can happen in the 100 years to come.”
The historical interaction has not been without its difficulties, though, as is often the case with new movements that are born from a pre-existing community.
In 1964 the Schönstatt movement and Fr. Kentenich parted ways with the Pallottine Fathers, but the small chapel remained in the hands of the religious order, which provided for the pastoral needs of those who came to the shrine.
Fast-forward 50 years and the movement is present all over the globe and is gearing up to celebrate its 100th anniversary, with activities planned in Schönstatt and Rome.
The organizers expect around 15,000 pilgrims from 48 countries to attend the Oct. 16-19, 2014 festivities at the shrine in Schönstatt, which will also include a Mass with Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko.
Fr. Pastore explained the importance of also holding a celebration in Rome by quoting from the words inscribed on their founder’s coffin: “Delexit Ecclesiam” (He loved the Church).
The gathering in the Eternal City will take place between Oct. 23-26 next year, and will feature a pilgrimage on foot from the Basilica of St. Mary Major to St. Peter’s Basilica, visits to the shrines run by the movement, and a possible meeting with Pope Francis.
During the meetings the movement will also focus on five areas in the culture that it is working to proclaim the message that “Mary bears Christ as the answer to the burning questions of the age.”
Those areas are: marriage and family life, working with youth, education, integrating its charism into diocesan life, and renewing society.
To learn more about the Schönstatt Movement and its celebrations, please visit: http://www.schönstatt.org.