June 22, 2019

“Apostle” at the Gymnicher Ritt

from Sr. M. Adele Gertsen

About 200 horses, big and small, just as many riders, young and older, fathers and mothers accompanying their riding children – a colorful picture that will be presented to us again this year at the Gymnicher Ritt.

The local priest Joseph Pikos rides on a white horse. His wide cope covers his horse. In one hand he carries a cross with a relic of the true cross. He does not seem to be tired, although he blesses the riders and the many spectators along the way, as well as the many exhibitors and their offers, their stalls line the main street without a break.

The equestrian procession has existed in Gymnich since the 14th century. It goes back to a promise made in great need. So it is not a sporting event, but a religious event. On the way the rosary is prayed and the patron saint of the parish, Saint Kunibert, is called upon again and again.

Already before the riders, the praying people of the street procession are on their way; there are about 200 of them. From the church a Eucharistic procession joins the praying procession at the entrance of the village. Together with the riders the Holy Mass is celebrated outside at the “equestrian altar”.

Meanwhile and afterwards the main road in Gymnich fills up with many people from near and far who are interested in the stands of the exhibitors. Almost everything can be bought there: Flowers, fashion and leather goods, curtains, household objects…

Horses, people and our information stand

We – Sister M. Resia Käppeler and Sister M. Adele Gertsen – are in the middle of all the offers with our stand of writings from the Secretariat of Father Joseph Kentenich. The house where Father Kentenich was born is our “back wall”. We are here because of him.

Our stand stands out from all others in every way. To the many people who pass by, we offer writings and information about Father Kentenich and his Schoenstatt work. We take this opportunity to make Father Kentenich better known here in his birthplace – and have done so for about 15 years.

In the beginning, we gathered in the church square. But our stand in front of the birthplace is much more effective because here we can also address the people who do not go to church. And so we really get into conversation with many people.

Talking about Father Kentenich

The starting points for this and also the reactions of the people are quite different. But it gives us joy that the person, the life and the statements of Father Kentenich speak to people. For some a certain sentence becomes a gift, for others a situation from the life of our founder. And we can also experience that an initially negative reaction develops towards openness in the course of the conversation. If the opposite is the case, we can cope with it. It goes without saying that not everyone is interested in our offer. This was the way it was for the apostles 2000 years ago, and it is also the way it is for the “apostles today”.

And so at the end of this day it is clear to us again: On Ascension Day 2020 we will also set off for Gymnich.

Live impressions of hochkelbergtv here