October 12, 2018

Dilexit ecclesiam – He loved the Church

Sr. Mariett Heuking

Festive Pontifical Mass on the 50th anniversary of the death of Father Joseph Kentenich

Schoenstatt-Au, Borken,
September 16, 2018

“I could not imagine that and how a fiftieth anniversary of death could be celebrated,” says Monika H. “And then I have experienced such a wonderful feast that I am amazed and cannot believe it all.” What one of the volunteer helpers expresses in this way is the almost unanimous response of over 300 people who came to the celebration. What they experienced was an immersion in the grace of a deeply moving Jubilee Hour.

Festive sounds of trumpet and organ accompanied Auxiliary Bishop Gerber, who with the concelebrants, a large number of mass servers and the banners of the Schoenstatt Movement, moved into the Annunciation Church. The choir and the congregation agreed on what is filling their hearts in this hour: “Thank the Lord, who has done great things …”

Yes, we thank God for the gift he gave to our time in Father Kentenich, the founder of the International Schoenstatt Work. The focus is on the encouraging experience of 50 years: He lives on, in a new way. He continues to work from eternity. It confirms once again what St. Jerome says: He who goes home to God stays in the family. The founder of Schoenstatt went home to eternity and at the same time remained in a new way with his Schoenstatt family.

In his impressive sermon, Auxiliary Bishop Dr. Gerber used the words that Father Kentenich himself chose as the inscription on his tomb:

Dilexit ecclesiam – He loved the Church!

Even painful trials that were imposed on him for the sake of his mission could not diminish his love and loyalty to the Church.

“Where is his foundation today required to present him and his actions?”  the auxiliary bishop asked and then explained: “Father Kentenich … now challenges us today to do what he has mainly done throughout his life: (…) help the dynamic of love to become the central basic force of human thinking, feeling and acting.” Let us learn from him to never see only the person before us, but see them as the bearer of an already existing divine love. Let us be guided by Father Kentenich to watch wisely, to make unbiased comparisons “in a time when everything and everyone is judged quickly” … Love, reverence for the mystery, for the “more” that the Other is always for me. Out of this attitude Father Kentenich lived until the hour of his death. Do we have the courage to go in this direction on our journey with him?

During the petitions, representatives of the regional Schoenstatt families carried an appropriate symbol to the altar: a picture of the Founder’s Chapel in the Adoration Church on Mount Schoenstatt; the writing: Dilexit ecclesiam; white carnations and lilies as a symbol of the flower carpet at the death site of Fr. Kentenich; a vigil light; a book in which many people entrust their concerns as well as their thanks to Father Kentenich.

The special choir, which was quickly formed on short notice especially for this festive celebration, united singers from various choirs from Borken and a few Sisters of Mary. “The wonderful choral singing” – in texts and melodies tailored to this occasion – “goes to the heart and shapes the festive celebration significantly” a woman said. And her husband added: “And trumpet and organ, masterfully played – a wonderful harmony.” Thus, “the positive charisma of the auxiliary bishop is reinforced and supported by all the festive– and at the same time happy and joyful — atmosphere all around,” as another participant expressed.

Before the final blessing, everyone was invited to visit the faithful replica of the place of death and final rest of Father Kentenich, our founder encounter place. Here, too, one can experience: He always has an open ear and a wide heart for all who come to him, for all who ask for his intercession. We thank him and speak the prayer for the “Kentenich Year”. The auxiliary bishop blessed the little lights on which were written in different languages: I go with you! It is the founder’s commitment to go our way. It is also our willingness to live his mission in the present day.

After the festive closing, our joy and gratitude culminated in the great Te Deum of the Church: “Holy God, we praise thy name…” Those attending followed the invitation for an encounter with Father Kentenich in the founder encounter place.


While some still linger in the church, the others already find a happy togetherness. Because cordial hospitality was always important to our founder, members and friends of the Schoenstatt family from the Borken and Bocholt area, together with the sisters, took care of everything: set the tables, baked cakes, served coffee and drinks as desired and last but not least provided loving service at all the stands. Everywhere one could see radiant faces, amazement and grateful and happy response: that so many have come … the beautiful hospitality … that so many volunteers are involved … the “picture book weather” … the great celebration and much more.

“What – we do not need to pay for that?” A family man is astonished when his children greet him with cake … No – on this Sunday afternoon, which is dedicated in a special way to the father and founder of the Schoenstatt Family; all are his guests, his family – Cor unum in Patre!

Through this experience, according to the echo of Auxiliary Bishop Gerber after his return to Freiburg, the “family of the father” has also grown. The Auxiliary Bishop once again thanked the sisters and all those who participated.

All of us, too, can only thank wholeheartedly: mostly and first of all, God and the Blessed Mother, and also the many helpers who helped bring about this “wonderful feast”.