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. . .
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