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The Exile Legacy

The Legacy of Schoenstatt’s Founder

Father Joseph Kentenich

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1952-1965

By Pilar Huerta

We praise God for our grace-filled history.

Graces and blessings of the Milwaukee years as basis for our Exile Legacy

The three-fold Exile Legacy:

  • The new image of the Father, Child and Community
  • Love of the Church
  • The Home Shrine

The New Image of the Father, Child and Community

  • Father Kentenich proclaimed that merciful love is the very essence of our God who, as we know from Jesus, is our Father! His own faith-filled experience of the merciful Father God, urged him to proclaim this image again and again. 
  • He refers to the experience of smallness. The Mother Thrice Admirable used this to lead the Schoenstatt family more deeply to God, as the merciful Father. 

Love of the Church

  • Behind the lived 31st of May (Third Milestone in our history) was a deep, animated love for the Church. This showed itself in Fr. Kentenich’s clear understanding of his role as “prophet” for the Church, and his obedience.
  • Kentenich’s love for the Church stands as a constant call to Schoenstatt that it must always love the Church.
  • Father’s charism was a strong Dilexit Ecclesiam which placed the well-being of the Church before his own well-being. It was marked by a firm desire to only do what was best for the Church.  It was also a love deeply fused with his love of Mary.

Are we capable of loving the Church in such a manner? 
Dilexit Ecclesiam:  to love the Church – how does it work?

  • Love is always very concrete. It shows in the here and now, in daily life!  Love makes contact, love is obliging; it is energetic and effective.  Each engagement to the honor of God and to the benefit of my neighbor is a dilexit ecclesiam.  Love is able to recognize my neighbor in each person, including those who think differently, including the stranger and even the enemy.  Every little gesture strengthens the heart of the Church.

[General Presidium, Milwaukee, 2004]

The Home Shrine

  • An answer for a world in need.
  • One of the most important fruits of Father Kentenich’s years of exile in Milwaukee was the home shrine.  
  • “The central problem of daily life is marriage and the family. What are we doing to create holy marriages and families? ” J. K.
  • “What do we mean by ‘home shrine’? Many of us have not only dedicated their house to the Blessed Mother in general but also offered it to her as a Living Shrine.  Everything which holds true for the Original Shrine and for the daughter shrines also holds true for the home shrines.”  K.
  • Vatican Council II restored the ancient concept of “domestic church” as it declared: “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church.”

[Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium #11]

  • Kentenich was one of those few who knew that through the home shrine our Blessed Mother could have a tremendous effect on the life of the family as domestic church. In 1950, Fr. Kentenich was already speaking about the family as a domestic church, nearly 15 years before Vatican II unfolded this reality more fully for the entire Church.
  • She has worked miracles of grace witnessed by many families in their home shrines. This home shrine stream has swept through the entire Schoenstatt world across oceans, continents and cultures creating a living net of attachments in our one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.  What a great hope for the Church of the future!  What a great legacy to own, to live!  [Partial excerpt: Talk-Fr. G. Langsch; Niehaus, Jonathan. Birth of the Home Shrine]
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70 Years of the great visitation of our Pilgrim Mother

Dear Schoenstatt Family,

Heartfelt greetings from the exile land of our dear father and founder, Father Joseph Kentenich.

Years ago, when I first heard about John Pozzobon and his work of carrying our Blessed Mother of Schoenstatt, the Pilgrim Mother, to families and schools, I was impressed and enthused. I wanted to know more about this apostolate. In 1987, the time had come. As a Texas Schoenstatt family, we chartered a bus to go on pilgrimage to our founder’s exile places in Wisconsin. This pilgrimage was the open door. Father Kentenich’s gift for Texas in return was a Pilgrim Mother image offered to us by Sister M. Thomasine. The couples, mothers, and girls who took part in the pilgrimage were very open for this pilgrim shrine apostolate. With gratitude and joy in our hearts, we were proud to take this image of our Mother and Queen to the Lone Star State.

It seemed to me, that this particular apostolate was to begin a truly great visitation of our Schoenstatt Mother for the education of the new person in the new community. I recall a talk at a Pilgrim Mother Workshop in Lamar when Father Patricio Rodriguez explained the pilgrim shrine in all its simplicity. It’s a small, wooden shrine in the shape of a little church, but how powerful are the graces the Blessed Mother gives us from this shrine. She works miracles of transformation, of being at home in her mother heart, and in this way she and we become apostolically fruitful in countless ways.

In Father Esteban Uriburu’s book, A Hero Today, Not Tomorrow, we read John Pozzobon’s words: “I am small, but I want to do big things. I was big when I felt small.” [p 14] He continues, “But then came my part; She [the Blessed Mother] entrusted this picture to me. I felt responsible and made up my mind to pray the rosary every night.” [p 15]

We are familiar with John’s wonderful work with the Pilgrim Mother and how it expanded throughout Brazil and Latin America from the Tabor Shrine. When he heard about this endeavor, our father and founder remarked that this work was the new pastoral outreach for the future.

We look back on seventy fruitful years of this apostolate, the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign with our Pilgrim Mother. However, this wouldn’t have been possible without the instruments chosen by her.

After receiving the image in Wisconsin and traveling back to Texas with it, in August of that same year, 1987, many pilgrims from various dioceses came to the Confidentia Shrine in Lamar to be commissioned as missionaries with a Pilgrim Mother for the first time. Since then, we count over 3000 pilgrim shrines sent throughout the state and from there beyond to other states.

We give thanks for a loyal state team of leaders, who with the help and training of Father Esteban Uriburu and our good Father Hector Vega along with other Schoenstatt Fathers and Sisters, who lead us in our founding initiatives for many years. Today, there are seven auxiliary shrines where our Blessed Mother is crowned in the intentions of each of the Texan dioceses. The first auxiliary shrine was brought by plane from Brazil for the Diocese of Corpus Christi by Don Blan. He also crafted the first crown for this shrine. A precious statue of John Pozzobon carrying the pilgrim shrine was wood carved by Victor Alegria.

In 2012, our very first pilgrim mother was crowned again in gratitude at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign in Texas. For that occasion, a huge pilgrim shrine was made by Tony Scamardo for the celebrations at the Confidentia Shrine in Lamar. I remember so well the sight of the little car rolling towards the Confidentia Shrine with Tony and Joann, and between them the huge pilgrim shrine of about five foot in length, reaching from the backseat to the steering wheel. When I saw them driving in, I ran outside to greet them and was so sorry that I had forgotten the camera. For major celebrations, this large pilgrim shrine received a place of honor on the left side, outside of the Confidentia Shrine on the red carpet; it was always decorated with beautiful flowers by the mothers.

Gratitude, much gratitude also fills our hearts for those who built pilgrim shrines throughout the years: Joe Rodriguez, Victor Alegria, Ignacio Cruz, Bonifacio Rodriguez, Zeke Garza, and Tony Scamardo. To assist the missionaries, and greatly appreciated by them, a Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign guidebook was composed by the state team.

As we read John’s words, may we never tire in this apostolic outreach, but grow ever deeper with love for our Mother and Queen and her work.

Sister M. Corelia Bechold

 

John recalled:

I often got wet in those days but I wore a cape so the Pilgrim Mother didn’t get wet because I protected her under my cape.

A hero now. I have only to say this word and I lose all fear. My Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen, I want to always remain attached to your shrine. I believe and feel as I never have before. For me, everything is a shrine: praying, working, travelling. Yes, everything. I bear this word hero till the end of my days. It’s a weapon I use in times of temptation. Under the protection of the MTA of Schoenstatt, and together with her, I will overcome my difficulties….

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All Souls Rosary

All Souls Rosary

The Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign’s monthly First Friday Rosary and Holy Hour was held on Friday, November 1.  Photos of deceased loved ones were placed on the communion rail as prayers were offered for their souls.

A shrine guardian of the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine, Roseanne Warner, recited a prayer-poem she had composed for the special commemorative service on the Solemnity of All Saints and All Souls Day.  The Schoenstatt Family shares Roseanne’s poem below:

In Memory of those I love –

Composed by Roseanne Blount Warner

 

The Day dawns quietly

My heart feels heavy

I will carry you with me

Down to the Shrine

 

You live in my heart

I whisper your names

Your faces I see

Through the echoes of time

 

I gently share stories

Place intentions in prayer

The little framed pictures

In this place so Divine

 

I miss you, I love you

Your presence is felt

As I pray so softly

On this Rosary of mine

 

Candles flicker so gently

Your faces look at me

Your spirit I feel

The beauty sublime

 

The sun is rising

My heart feels your peace

I will carry you home

From my sweet little Shrine

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We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Nine

We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Nine

By Pilar Huerta

The day after the dedication of the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine, the Guardian Circle was in place with guardians both in the morning and afternoon to welcome visitors.  A sacristan, from the liturgical ministries, served our Lord and the priests for the very first Sunday Mass celebrated in the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine.  Several members from the Dallas Diocese sealed the Covenant of Love on this day.

 

Part Nine – Blessings for the shrine’s mission

Life in and from the shrine has brought God’s abundant blessings for the shrine’s mission.  The guardians welcome many pilgrims from Texas, the U. S., Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Central, and South America.  In their encounters with the pilgrims, the guardians strive to make God’s love tangible by their words and service.  The mission of the shrine, cor unum in Patre (being one heart in the Father) expresses the spirit of unity.  In the shrine, Mary shows herself, to all who come here to pray, as the Mother of unity who unites all hearts in the love of her Son.  One of the graces we receive is the grace of being at home in the heart of God.  We, the Schoenstatt Family, and the pilgrims become anchored in the deep unity with God that comes through faith.   

Improvements on the grounds of Mount Schoenstatt were special projects of the Schoenstatt Family in the first two years. United with one another, we worked on prayer and meditation areas:  the Rosary Garden, Stations of the Cross to the top of the hill, the St. Joseph Circle and pilgrim rest areas with tables and benches.  In later years, additional meditation areas were developed.  Today, Mount Schoenstatt is a beautiful tranquil Marian place of pilgrimage.

Soon after the shrine was dedicated, the facilities at Mount Schoenstatt were made available, in service to the archdiocese, for day retreats of parish ministries, other movements and youth organizations.  The Schoenstatt youth from San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi and the Austin university men and women were welcomed for weekend retreats and overnight campouts.  God bestowed a great blessing to our San Antonio Schoenstatt Family.  From the Schoenstatt University Men, there are two vocations, young men from San Antonio, to the Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers!

The scheduled Masses, Eucharistic adoration, weekly rosaries, day retreats, formation conferences and group meetings brought many participants.  Our Mother’s activity from the shrine inspired new life for the Schoenstatt branches, federation communities and the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign.  She drew many to herself – new children from the nearby parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Helotes community. 

Through the Pilgrim MTA Shrine of the Rosary Campaign, two thousand families from metropolitan San Antonio and surrounding cities, in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, have come to know and love the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt.  For three days every month they welcome her in their homes with the special graces she brings from the shrine.  As Mother and Educator, she forms holy families.

Working together – “unity” -- was the main ingredient for having successful fundraisers. Through fundraising efforts and generous donations, two new developments were possible, Hope Religious Store and the Sacristy with a studio.

We are grateful for the call and blessing to be used as small instruments in the hand of our Mother and Queen for the realization of our shrine’s mission of “cor unum in Patre.”  It is a rich legacy and holy task of great significance to offer to Church and world from our shrine.

Our holy history of five decades, 50 years of great blessings, brings us to November 2019 – a Golden Jubilee celebration and a scroll that was signed by the members of the New Founding Generation (second 50 years).

Click for photos - www.mountschoenstatt.org/event-gallery

© 2019 Pilar Huerta, some rights reserved for entire document, request permission to make copies.

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We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Eight

We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Eight

By Pilar Huerta

 

After many years of longing, of contributions to the Capital of Grace, of united effort, perseverance, love and service, the Holy Spirit revealed to us that it was the time to act – it was God’s time.  On Pentecost Sunday 2005, the diocesan committee met to formulate a letter requesting guidance from the Institutes of the Schoenstatt Fathers and the Schoenstatt Sisters to get permission to build a daughter shrine in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  The committee, representing all the members of the branches, made the decision to set a time frame for the building of the shrine.  A three-year intense fundraising campaign would be required.  The Living Stones Campaign would be implemented on October 1, 2005, the first day of the new fiscal year. 

 God’s surprise and great blessing, through the intercession of our Mother and Queen, came to us on September 27, 2005!  Our benefactor called Sr. Corelia Bechold to let her know that he was making a bank transfer to the Schoenstatt Movement of San Antonio for the construction of the shrine.  After prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude at the Fountain of Family Unity Wayside Shrine, the committee decided to go ahead with the planned campaign because additional funds would be needed for the clearing of the land, all the interior of the shrine, some of the symbols, and sacred vessels, linens, etc.  As it turned out, every dollar of the sizeable amount that was raised was needed for the completion and dedication of the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine. 

 The second weekend in October was when the Delegates Convention-Workshop had been held for many years at the Confidentia Shrine in Lamar.  The Convention of 2005 was an unbelievable miracle of unity!

Words of Sr. Corelia Bechold, A Shrine for a Shrine - History of the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine, p. 25

At the Delegates Workshop of that year (2005), Julian & Pilar Huerta and Linda Silva shared the news of the gift with the Delegates.  They, in turn, shared this joy from the heart.  Then something wonderful happened that could only be guided by the Holy Spirit and Father Kentenich’s intercession.  The leaders of the branches and the diocesan leaders voiced their readiness to build this new shrine together as a Jubilee Gift for the Confidentia Shrine (50th Anniversary).  When the Living Stones Album was developed by Pilar Huerta, each diocese took a symbol of the Shrine to work for and to present to the new shrine.  It was a miracle of unity guided from above, a Shrine for a Shrine.

Once home in San Antonio after the grace-filled weekend of unity, love, and joy, the work began for the diocesan committee and the board.  The preliminary work for the board was to prepare a short-term and long-term plan for the use of Mount Schoenstatt which was submitted by the chairperson, Pilar Huerta, to the appraisal district with the application for transfer from an agricultural exemption to a religious-use exemption on the entire property.  Upon approval, the next thing taken care of by the board was to sell the longhorn cattle and begin the clearing of 10 acres.  The architect, Francisco Gonzalez, who served on the board, prepared the architectural plan for the shrine.  Several of the sisters from Lamar came to help in the selection of the site for the shrine.

 The diocesan committee had as its primary focus, the process of discernment for the name and mission of the shrine.  It was a beautiful, spiritual experience of working together.  We had enough members, representing the branches and the pilgrim circle on the committee, to have one member or couple to spend one hour in Eucharistic adoration on each of the seven days of the week.  We did this for over two years until God, through the intercession of our founder, revealed to us the name and mission of our shrine – Cor Unum in Patre – One Heart in the Father.  It is a mission of great significance to offer to Church and world from our shrine.  Most of us (if I may venture to say, all of us) on the diocesan committee in the years of being called as instruments for this holy task, continue with our weekly adoration now 11 years later.  It was a great grace we received of an hour of silence growing in our relationship with God and learning to anchor each week of our lives in Christ who is present in the Eucharist.

Part Eight – Dedication of the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine – our Mother’s victory!

On October 18, 2008, with great joy, the San Antonio Family united with the Texas and U. S. Schoenstatt Family offered our Mother and Victorious Queen the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine.  It was the fulfillment of a 40-year longing for the day when our Mother, Queen of Unity, would reign from her shrine in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  Living the grace of unity, our ideal, prepared us for this day and for the shrine’s mission. 

This second shrine of the Texas Family was the jubilee gift for the 50 years of the special activity of our Mother Thrice Admirable from the Confidentia Shrine in Lamar-Rockport – a Shrine for a Shrine!   For five decades, our San Antonio Family received the special grace of unlimited, childlike and victorious confidence through the hands of our covenant partner. Our striving to live unity daily, nurtured by the grace of confidence, has shaped our story.  It was with the attitude of great confidence that the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine was also offered in thanksgiving in advance for the canonization Schoenstatt’s founder, Father Joseph Kentenich.

Most Reverend Jose Gomez, Archbishop of San Antonio officiated at the dedication of the shrine.  The Mass was concelebrated by the Schoenstatt Fathers of the United States and some diocesan priests.  Several deacons assisted.  The Schoenstatt University Men served as altar servers.  The choir director was Maria Apac-Smith.  Carlos Cantu, from the Brownsville Diocese was the Master of Ceremonies.  The Mass was coordinated by the Dedication Mass Committee:  Fr. Jesus Ferras and the diocesan leader of the mothers’ branch, Linda Silva, and the diocesan leader couple of the family branch, Julian & Pilar Huerta.

1,700 persons attended this special day of grace and festive day of celebration in honor of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt.  Many guests from throughout Texas, the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico were present.  After the Mass, the celebration continued with Mariachi music and a dinner for hundreds of guests in a large dining tent.  Congratulations and gifts were presented from throughout the United States, Mexico and Schoenstatt, Germany.

Our holy history continues, bringing us to 2019 and 50 years of great blessings. . .

 

Click for photos - www.mountschoenstatt.org/event-gallery

© 2019 Pilar Huerta, some rights reserved for entire document, request permission to make copies.

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We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Seven

We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Seven

By Pilar Huerta

As we journeyed with the Church and as Schoenstatt Movement in the final years of the 1990’s leading to the new millennium, we expressed thanksgiving for the gift of the property for our Mother’s dwelling place and future shrine of grace.  We presented our Mother and Queen with a crown.  The first May crowning on the property was on May 18, 1997 at an outdoor Mass celebrated by a visiting Oblate priest.  The stained-glass crown we offered our Queen was designed and crafted by Albert Tamez.  The following year, the crowning celebrated the 25th anniversary of the original crowning of our Queen of Unity in 1973.  The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Hector Vega and many of the members of our Texas family came to visit the property and celebrate with us.  The diocesan leaders of the branches offered the original Unity Crown to our Queen of Unity anew.  In the final year of the 1990’s, 1999, Archbishop Patricio Flores celebrated an outdoor Mass for our May crowning.  Our Texas family again celebrated as a united family.  In return, our Mother and Queen presented her children with a crown.  Through the generosity of her instrument, the first development of the property was completed -- electricity and a public-use well.  It took many prayers and contributions to the capital of grace “the nothing without us” to overcome the unexpected challenges with the two initiatives, each one is a “story of perseverance and trust” in itself!

Part Seven – Years of Foundation - Mount Schoenstatt

We entered the new millennium by welcoming special visitors from the General Presidium in Schoenstatt.  They came to see our hill country property and assess its feasibility for a Schoenstatt Shrine and Religious Center. 

United as Schoenstatt Family of San Antonio, we sponsored Schoenstatt Conference 2000.  It was held at a nearby parish hall.  Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Gerold Langsch who also presented the key talk.  A master plan for the Helotes property was unveiled by board member and architect, Francisco Gonzalez.  Ministry booths throughout the conference area helped to introduce Schoenstatt and to bring in volunteers interested in the life of the Fountain of Family Unity Wayside Shrine and the future shrine at Mount Schoenstatt.  The highlight of the program was a skit, “Vamos a Construir” (“We are Going to Build”).  We wore yellow construction “hard hats” made of plastic and by the end of our skit we had built a tabletop Schoenstatt Shrine out of cardboard cinder blocks, complete with bell tower and bell!   

 In 2001, the fifth of the founding years at the property, we purchased a 1,500 sq. ft. building (formerly used for CCD) from Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in downtown San Antonio and had it moved to Helotes.  That was the first building on the 52.8 acre property.  This year, in the October 18, 2001 Covenant Day Mass, at the sign of peace we added a hug for the persons sitting close to us with the words “thank you”.  We acknowledged our unity in Christ’s peace and the contribution of each person. The next year, the renovation to the building was completed. 

The year 2003 was ushered in by the movement of the Holy Spirit inspiring us to more spiritual striving.  United, the members of the branches offered a nine-week Rosary novena while walking the grounds of the property.  The men took turns carrying the SRC auxiliary shrine as we walked and prayed.  We were challenged to do more.  Belinda Murguia was inspired to have a pilgrimage to the Schoenstatt Shrines in Mexico and to offer our Mother her Unity Crown in petition for growth in numbers and growth in the depth of our Covenant of Love.  It turned out that only the diocesan leaders of the branches would make the pilgrimage – Linda Silva, Julian & Pilar Huerta and Belinda Murguia.  Fr. Christian Christensen accompanied us.  In the beautiful, holy Easter season, we visited the shrines in Monterrey, San Luis Potosi, and Queretaro.  In each shrine, our Mother and Queen accepted her crown and our petition for her intercession.  We also petitioned our Mother at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

In the summer of 2003, a very special Corpus Christi procession and blessing (E-W-N-S) was held in the large meadow of the property.  Soon after this beautiful spiritual preparation, we took on another project of an addition of 800 sq. ft. for an office and bathrooms.  More utilities were required to be installed in the property.  This project was made possible by the generous contributions of the members thru a three-year capital campaign implemented in 2001, Together We Can Build.  In November 2003, our Covenant Day celebration included a blessing of the Center with the newly completed addition.  The 52-acre property was officially named “Mount Schoenstatt”.  Fr. Hector Vega celebrated the Mass and blessed the building.  Sr. M. Corelia and Sr. M. Daniela came from Lamar to celebrate with us.

It is now the eighth year of the cattle grazing operation – we were maintaining fences and water troughs, and buying large quantities of hay bales from farmers in small towns on the outskirts of San Antonio.  Dealing with coyotes, feral pigs, and snakes was not something we had expected.  However, we had said our yes to maintaining the agriculture exemption and it included all.  God was with us and every year brought its own blessings.  During the December 2004 Covenant Day celebration and posada, Fr. Christian Christensen unveiled and blessed the wayside shrine at the entrance to Mount Schoenstatt.  It was a beautiful gift of the Mothers Federation, course III.

The year 2005 brings great blessings!  Our holy history continues. . .

Click for photos - www.mountschoenstatt.org/event-gallery

© 2019 Pilar Huerta, some rights reserved for entire document, request permission to make copies.

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We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Six

We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Six

By Pilar Huerta

The second half of the decade of the 1990’s brought even greater blessings from a loving Father.  In an “act of confidence,” the altar for the future daughter shrine was ordered in November 1994 from Ecuador; and before the altar arrived, we received the gift of a 52.8 acre property in Helotes to build the daughter shrine! 

The general motto of the Texas Schoenstatt Family for 1996 was Crown for Crown!  In 1973, we had crowned our Mother as Queen of Unity with the petition for a daughter shrine where she could reign in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  On August 12, 1996, our Queen of Unity offered a crown in return to her children – the gift of the land and also a spiritual gift of the grace of unity and of trust in great measure for it would be yet 12 more years for the realization of her throne of grace -- her victory for her small instruments who loved their Mother, the Triune God, and one another.

Part Six – A crown for a crown

The act of confidence in ordering the altar for the future daughter shrine was offered with a great petition for the perfect land for the future shrine.  With this great petition, was our part – the “nothing without us.”  We promised to have monthly Eucharistic Adoration in the Fountain of Family Unity Shrine.  Our Schoenstatt Family kept this promise for 20 years. 

How did our Mother Thrice Admirable reveal to us the perfect land she had chosen for her throne?  In late fall of 1995, two members, Linda Silva and Mary Tamez, were driving on the historic Scenic Loop Road in Helotes after work and saw a “for sale” sign for a 52-acre property.  They could see through the barbed-wire fence.  It had many oaks, mountain laurels, cedar, a spacious wildflower meadow and a beautiful hill.  The land was used for (longhorn) cattle grazing.  A call was made to get the information about it and the information was related to Sister M. Corelia Bechold who contacted our potential benefactor about the hill-country property that was available.  Our benefactor believed that we had discovered our Mother’s choice and he began the process to purchase the property for a future Schoenstatt Daughter Shrine in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  In early January 1996, some branch leaders and officers of the board were shown the property by the owner, Dr. Haddock.  He granted permission for a Mass and blessing of the property.  On February 24, 1996, Fr. Vega celebrated an outdoor Mass and blessed the property.  Closing on the property was set for August 12, 1996. 

The Fountain of Family Unity Wayside Shrine continued to be the spiritual home of our Schoenstatt Family.  It was four months after the official gift of the land that the altar, ordered in confidence, would arrive – on December 11, 1996.  The altar was blessed by Fr. Hector Vega on April 18, 1997 before celebration of the covenant Mass.

On August 12, 1996, after signing all the documents at the title company for the transfer of deed, the board officers and branch leaders went directly to the property.  Words cannot express the joy and gratitude in our hearts.  We took with us the Father Eye from 1985, first symbol for our future shrine.  There was only a wood storage shed on the property.  The roof extended on one side, similar to a covered patio.  On the exterior wall of the shed that had this covered area, we enthroned the MTA picture!  It had a rustic wood frame.  It “fit” so perfectly.  We prayed together in thanksgiving for this great gift for our Mother’s throne of grace.  In one voice, we renewed our consecration. 

The next day, we came down from the clouds and with our feet firmly planted on the beautiful country property and lovingly offered another “nothing without us.”  We said our “yes” to maintaining the agricultural exemption.  The property taxes on such a large piece of land were high and we were not ready to build the shrine to qualify for a religious exemption.  For ten years, 1996-2006, our Schoenstatt Family, mainly the men of the membership community, had responsibility for a cattle-grazing operation.  These ten years are a part of our unique story – of unity and offerings to the capital of grace.

 I return to August 12, 1996, the day that we received the gift of the property.  While waiting to be called in for signatures on the documents, we sat with our benefactor and conversed with him.  Theresa Ochoa, whose husband Deacon Jesse Ochoa was recently deceased, shared that he offered his life for the realization of the shrine. She also shared that it happened that the owner of the property our Mother chose for her throne of grace was the cardiologist of her late husband.  Our benefactor listened to her intently and remarked to her that in three days the Schoenstatt Family would receive a card.  In three days it would be August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the BVM.  It was a great surprise of a monetary gift for the beginning of the development of the property by bringing in utilities.  The gift was a significant amount.  Our Mother and Queen is not outdone in generosity and he was her instrument.  His generosity made it possible that by 1999 we had electricity and a public-use well on the property.

Our holy history continues.  It would be in the next decade of the 2000’s, after more than 35 years of a holy longing, that the daughter shrine in the plan of God as a gift and task would be dedicated with a name and mission of profound significance.

Click for photos - www.mountschoenstatt.org/event-gallery

© 2019 Pilar Huerta, some rights reserved for entire document, request permission to make copies.

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We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Five

We Celebrate Our Golden Jubilee, Part Five

By Pilar Huerta

 

The early 1990’s brought God’s special blessings:   

  • the dedication of the new wayside shrine in April 1990
  • enthronements of the picture of grace of our Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt in three local parishes
  • a land search committee and a capital campaign for land for the future daughter shrine were established

 Part Five – Fountain of Family Unity Wayside Shrine – a new place of grace – our new spiritual home

On April 29, 1990, the new wayside shrine, Fountain of Family Unity, was dedicated by Archbishop Patricio Flores.  The outdoor Mass was con-celebrated by Father Hector Vega and Monsignor Michael O’Gorman, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish.  Deacon Jesse Ochoa and other deacons, from several parishes of our members, assisted in the Mass.  A choir from a local parish provided the music.  The Knights of Columbus of Blessed Sacrament Parish and the Girl Scouts took part in the processions.  Several Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary from Lamar and members of our Texas Schoenstatt Family were present to celebrate with us the new home for our beloved Mother.

 It was a day of gratitude and celebration for the San Antonio Schoenstatt Family - despite the high temperature on that day.  I remember one of the Knights of Columbus, in full regalia, fainted.  The picture of grace of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt was carried in procession by Belinda Murguia and her daughter, Melanie.  The Peralta boys, Louis, Jr. and Christian, were servers for the Mass.  Archbishop Flores, a good friend to our Schoenstatt Family, placed the MTA picture on the wall in the sanctuary space of the shrine. 

Everything for the new wayside shrine – altar, MTA picture, credence table and cabinet, plant stands, sacred vessels and linens, the pews and the Stations of the Cross came from the Shrine of Unity that had closed at the end of 1988.  The Schoenstatt Shrine of Unity which was on the grounds of St. Lawrence Church had served as the spiritual home of our Schoenstatt Family of San Antonio for 19 years.

 [Interject here that today, in 2019, the altar, the framed MTA picture and the two plant stands from the Shrine of Unity (1969) and later in the Fountain of Family Unity Wayside Shrine (1990) are in the chapel room of the Center at Mount Schoenstatt. Today, 50 years later, Holy Mass is still celebrated on the altar blessed in the Shrine of Unity in 1969.  At how many Eucharistic celebrations has the presence of our Lord Jesus been adored and received in communion – in thanksgiving – by us?  At how many Eucharistic celebrations has our Lord been sacrificed, consecrated and received in sacramental communion from this altar, especially by our founding generation members and those of the second founding generation to which I, with my husband Julian, belong?  For this reason, I have foremost great love and reverence for my Lord, my God – present body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist where I unite myself with Him, but also much reverence for this simple altar – table of the Lord – where I have had the privilege of serving my Lord, his priests, and my brothers and sisters as sacristan for many years.] 

 During these years, the picture of grace of our MTA was enthroned in three churches of our archdiocese – Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Margaret Mary and St. Lawrence.  With these open doors, our growing family was able to bring Schoenstatt more into the church.  The parishioners welcomed Our Lady of Schoenstatt and she bestowed graces in abundance (and continues to do so) to the families.

 From the beginning, there was much life in and from the Fountain of Family Unity Wayside Shrine.  Weekly community rosaries were held on Wednesdays at 7 PM, led by Hope Falcon – not even inclement weather interrupted these weekly rosaries.  The shrine was full on the evening of the 18th for Holy Mass or Marian devotions.  Several priests throughout the years were very faithful in coming to celebrate Mass for the Schoenstatt Family on most 18th covenant days.  The wayside shrine was open daily and pilgrims visited throughout the day.  Their donations made it possible for the shrine to be self-sufficient.  We welcomed special visitors – bishops from our archdiocese and nearby dioceses and also of the Schoenstatt Movement from Schoenstatt in Germany and from Rome.  I remember serving as lector for a Mass celebrated by then Archbishop Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa from Rome (later named cardinal),

For over 20 years, the longing to build a daughter shrine (replica of the Original Shrine in Germany) for our Mother and Queen was in the hearts of her children.  The graces of the Shrine of Unity and the new Fountain of Family Unity Wayside Shrine sustained our family in faith and unity.  Over many years of pilgrimages to the Confidentia Shrine in Lamar for retreats and workshops we received formation in the Catholic faith and the Schoenstatt spirituality.  We also received the special grace of the Confidentia Shrine – unlimited, childlike, victorious confidence.  We did not lose sight of the longing in our hearts, we persevered and we continued forward.  A land search committee was established in 1992 and a capital campaign, “Hand-in-Hand for Our Schoenstatt Land,” was implemented in 1994.  In our home shrines, we recited a common prayer of petition for the intention of securing the perfect land for our Mother’s throne of grace.

 Our holy history continues . . .

Click for photos - www.mountschoenstatt.org/event-gallery

 

© 2019 Pilar Huerta, some rights reserved for entire document, request permission to make copies.

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