By Theresia Titus
The Schoenstatt Movement community in Perth has last week commemorated the 50th anniversary of the passing away of their founding father’s death, Fr Joseph Kentenich on Saturday 15 September.
Held at the Schoenstatt Shrine in Mt Richon, the commemoration began with a prayer of remembrance and then continued with an outdoor holy Mass outside the Shrine, celebrated by Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey and concelebrated by Armadale Parish Priest Fr Joseph Tran, Assistant Priest Fr Anthony Vu and Schoenstatt Priest Fr Alphons Bruner who came from Switzerland.
“We are celebrating 50 years of God’s special grace on the world,” Emeritus Archbishop Hickey said.
“We are here today to celebrate the anniversary of a man who understood God’s will, who was touched by God, called by God and said yes; and what he started, the movement he started through Mary and Jesus has gone around the world and his examples should not be forgotten.”
Archbishop Hickey also mentioned that Fr Kentenich lived in a challenging “era of humanity” and that he knew the cost of following Jesus and His calling.
“He knew the cost of discipleship just as Jesus has promised. We too should not be surprised, if we are asked to suffer in our lives,” Emeritus Archbishop Hickey said.
“The way we accept that suffering is to unite ourselves with the suffering Christ on Calvary.
“We know that He will take us through the sufferings to better times, we also know that He will add those sufferings to His own for the salvation of the world and give them special meaning,” he continued.
Speaking to The eRecord, Sr M Elizabeth Foley of Schoenstatt WA told the story of Fr Kentenich’s journey and why his death is significant to commemorate.
“Fr Kentenich founded the Schoenstatt Movement in 1914,” Sr Foley said
“His life was a life of suffering, he spent three years and eight months in a concentration camp during the Second World War, and he spent 14 years in exile in the United States.
“In 1965 he came back from America to Germany and so God gave him three years from the time he came back to the time he died, to be able to consolidate and finally firmed up the foundation,” Sr Foley continued.
Fr Kentenich died on 15 September 1968 after celebrating his first and only Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Schoenstatt, Germany.
“It was a Sunday, it was a feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, and Fr Kentenich had a very intimate connection with the Blessed Mother all his life, and he died on one of her feast days.
“50 years after a founder’s death is a time of rethinking, re-looking and perhaps even re-founding because after 50 years most of the people with whom the community was he founded are no longer alive. The community is challenged to evaluate whether it is still true to its founder’s spirit and charism.
“We are commemorating this event of his death but with the idea that we want to express our gratitude to God for his life and our loyalty to his mission for the future of the Church,” Sr Foley said.
Sr Foley also mentioned as did Emeritus Archbishop Hickey in his homily, through Schoenstatt Fr Kentenich is promoting the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother.
“This covenant is a deepening of our Baptismal Covenant, whereby the Blessed Mother helps us to strive for holiness in our everyday lives and we in our turn do what we can to live a self-giving life based on love according to the will of God,” Sr Foley said.
Sr Foley emphasised that what Fr Kentenich was trying to do was to help renew the world and the Church by bringing God back into His significant position in the world and the Church.
“We need to integrate God into every facet of life once again. Moreover, Our Lady is the perfect disciple, the one who did that so perfectly; she is our model, our educator who will help us bring God back into the world,” Sr Foley said.
Before concluding the Mass on Saturday, Emeritus Archbishop Hickey went inside the Shrine where he placed the crown of the Blessed Mother on the altar.
“This crowning of Our Lady took place in 1986, but we added a diamond for this occasion to remind us that whenever we go to the Shrine, Fr Kentenich is present here with us “from heaven”.
“He promises he would come to Australia from heaven and that’s like the heritage that we live by, that’s our spirit.
“In his lifetime, when asked when he would visit Australia his spontaneous response was “from heaven”. We believe Fr Kentenich was able to fulfil this promise on 15th September 1968 when God called him home. This promise has become like our heritage; and we strive to we live by it, by being faithful to his and our mission.
“We know that he is with us all the time “from heaven” and it’s not for himself, it is because he is the one who leads us to the Blessed Mother and then to the Heavenly Father,” Sr Foley concluded.