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
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….