Ending and a new beginning
Schoenstatt Fathers set up a European Province
In a similar process of coming to”Today we are doing something that we have never done before in the history of our community: the establishment of a province from three existing areas.” With these words Fr. Antonio Bracht, a member of the General Council, pointed out the historical significance of the day when on Pentecost Sunday numerous confreres gathered for the establishment of the European Province of the Schoenstatt Fathers in the Father Hosue on Mount Sion, the seat of the community in Vallendar-Schoenstatt.
In a several-year process, the community had started looking for new orientation and a way to increase cooperation in Europe. This process culminated in the founding of the new province, which contains the areas of the previous Sion province, the Swiss province and the Polish delegation. The territory of the province includes six countries in which there are branches of the Schoenstatt Fathers: Great Britain, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. In addition, priests of the community are u. a. active in Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia.
The fact that it was a special day was already evident from the composition of the guests who had come. Some had made their way from Poland and Switzerland to take part in the celebration. But also confreres from Africa, India and South America, who are currently in Schoenstatt or working in parishes in the area, came and mirrored something of the international face of the community. Other confreres from all over the world tuned in to the offered Livestream.
At the inauguration ceremony, part of a Vespers service, the Superior General of the Community, Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, pointed out that the establishment of the European Province signifies an end and a new beginning. To begin we took a look at our history: “We thank all who have been the instruments of the Blessed Mother in this holy history, brothers from the many generations of our Sion community, here on earth and also in heaven.”
A look at the present and the future immediately followed. “This European Sion is new, Sion of Europe.” Taking some of Pope Francis’ thoughts on Europe, Catoggio said: “Europe is unity in differnce, in diversity.”
During the celebration, the first provincial council was inaugurated. In addition to the new provincial Fr. Raffael Rieger from Switzerland, it has four other members. They advise and support the Provincial in his duties. At the end of the celebration, thanks were also given to their predecessors, the superiors and the council members of the three previous areas.
For the Fathers of the new Province, the celebration went even further in a joint meeting on Whit Monday. For the first time, Father Raffael Rieger presided over the communal celebration of the Eucharist as Provincial. In a lively and vivid sermon, he was able to highlight some aspects which he emphasised as a focus for the forthcoming term of office. In doing so, he particularly addressed Mount Sion, which is the home and spiritual centre for the Fathers’ community. “For me,” says Rieger, “Sion remains a secret, a mystery.” However, therein lies the opportunity to keep rediscovering the ideal associated with it.
Among other things, Father Raffael emphasized that Mount Sion was for him “synodal” in character. This is probably the word of the hour that has meaning for the whole church, but also for us as a community and for the Schoenstatt Movement. “It is important to me that we organize our community in a synodal way, that means first a lot of listening to each other.” In Schoenstatt we are used to observing and absorbing life. “It’s also important to me for the community.”
The days were rounded off with a festive lunch and a joint pilgrimage to the Original Shrine in the Valley. It is now a matter of continuing on the path we have taken and breathing life into the new province. The festival of Pentecost on Mount Sion was a successful start.