August 24, 2020

MJF summer days

Sister Christina-Maria Greiner

“… we won’t let that be taken from us!”

Corona is making a heavy line through the calendar

At the beginning of the year, my schedule for 2020 looked promising: group meetings, women’s congresses, jubilee days, schooling days, vacation weeks – all the events to which I was supposed to accompany various sisters in order to gain practical experience for the work in the Schoenstatt Movement. I looked forward to encounters with girls, young women, families and pilgrims, to visits to various Schoenstatt Centers in Germany and to working with my fellow sisters. But then Corona made a heavy line through the calendar for me too. One event after the other was canceled or postponed, and suddenly my training period included a lot more internal and theoretical elements than I had initially imagined.

When the dioceses were gradually relaxed over the past few weeks, the first face-to-face events could be thought of again. What is easier to implement in adult education or with young adults poses a greater challenge for children. And yet:

Under the motto: “… we won’t let that happen!”

Three “MJF Summer Days” for girls aged 8-13 years could take place on July 8th, 9th and 11th at the Schoenstatt Center in Dietershausen-Künzell. Almost 30 girls didn’t want to miss the time for games and prayer, group lessons, handicrafts and encounters in and around the shrine!

Sister M. Kerstin Ruh is a youth sister in the diocese of Fulda. Together with her and eleven leaders, we were able to carry out this Corona-adapted replacement for the popular vacation weeks that take place every summer at many Schoenstatt Centers. Because of the requirements and precautionary measures, the girls could not stay overnight on site, and the “pool noodle distance” and the strict hygiene regulations challenged us to find creative solutions with the games and activities. But we didn’t let any of this take our joy away!

With detective Heiko we went in search of the lost crown. Every day there were new challenges to cope with, and the bumbling detective often lost his suitcase or notebook, which contained important clues for the next steps in the search. Together we traveled with “MJF Airlines” to Ecuador, Brazil and, most recently, to Sweden, where there was local food and suitable creative offers. Of course, group lessons could not be missing, in which the girls e.g. exchanged ideas about how to use faith to face challenges and what to take courage from when something doesn’t work out. With the exception of rain on the first day, when we were able to move into large tents, we were given sunny weather and were able to stay outdoors around the shrine, which was always our center in all three countries on our “world tour”.

“Maria from the Zettelwald”

A special highlight was that in a small shrine-time the girls could mark their favorite place and / or their favorite symbol in the shrine with their name with post-it notes. The clear favorites of the children were the image of the Mother of God and her crown. The slips of paper stayed in place throughout the day, and “Maria vom Zettelwald” (Mary of the paper forest), as a pastor spontaneously called her at a morning church service, fascinated and delighted not only the girls, but also many a visitor who came to the Schoenstatt Shrine during the day .

Another highlight was a community living crown for the Blessed Mother. A further highlight was the “Swedish chairs” which the girls could assemble and paint themselves with the help of the leaders—a very special souvenir from their visit to Sweden.

As a community, living crown of Our Lady

The days ended with a colorful final service in front of the shrine, at which detective Heiko and the pilot appeared again and opened the suitcase. Inside was a letter from Father Kentenich, who had asked detective Heiko to look for the crown. The girls realized that they could not find the material crown on their journey, but that they themselves, each one and they as a community are the living crown of Our Lady! Every girl is valuable, lovable and a real king’s child in her uniqueness! As Christians, we wear a secret, invisible crown on our foreheads that speaks of our dignity as baptized children of God. As a reminder of the MJF summer days, but above all of their royal dignity, the girls received a bobby pin with a small crown and a piece of the puzzle at the end. When we put the puzzle together, the picture was recognizable and said: “You are my living crown!”

At the end of the campfire with sausages and marshmallows, the girls created a colorful evening with their own contributions, until the parents gradually came to pick up their children. At the end we danced the “flight dance” again and then it was time to say goodbye to detective Heiko and the other girls.

It was a valuable experience for me to spend these days with the girls. I was particularly impressed by the joy and zeal with which the leaders were committed to providing the girls with a nice and enriching time and happy community experiences in the midst of the corona pandemic. I was also happy to experience that the MJF and the Schoenstatt Center in Dietershausen are a home for many girls, where they experience a supporting community and are strengthened in their faith.

The protective mantle of the Blessed Mother as an effective protective concept

We have experienced the protective mantle of the Blessed Mother these days as an effective protective concept. With wise caution and firm trust, we were therefore sure: Schoenstatt and the MJF, we will not let this be taken from us!

That was a very successful appointment in my calendar.