With great joy and gratitude, we would like to share our experiences that we made some time ago. We would never have imagined beforehand that this could be achieved. In addition to many challenges and difficult situations, the Covid-19 pandemic has also given us new opportunities to learn, especially in the field of communication. One example of this was the
34th Congress of the “Friends of Fr. Joseph Kentenich”
– for the first time virtually.
At the beginning of July we informed the married couple Giovani and Fabiana Sturmer, who always attended the congress, that the annual congress in Santa Maria / RS was not possible this year. They replied, “But why don’t we make it virtual?” This became a ray of hope, and with the great help of Sr. M. Rosequiel Fávero, who is responsible for communication in our province, we accepted this new challenge.
The couple organized the registration forms and special “links” on the Internet. The preparation team had a lot of fun with every registration. The many registrations showed the deep love and admiration of the Brazilians and people from other countries for Father Kentenich.
The 34th Congress – designed virtually
In preparation, many and longer meetings were held in order to realize this project of a virtual congress. It is the 34th Congress, this time designed virtually. It should be such that one could get to know the person and mission of Fr. Kentenich better and on the other hand point out new ways to cope with the realities of the pandemic in which we live.
The project was implemented and designed in such a way that the participants could experience a real congress. It should be a “mini-congress” of four evenings: with celebration, lectures, testimonies of answers to prayer for the intercession of Fr. Kentenich, etc.
Not only the participation of the congress participants was virtual, but also the lectures and certificates. All of this was a great challenge: with difficulties in receiving the internet, the incoming recordings, etc. … But Our Lady showed herself to be the great Victress and made sure that despite some technical and human errors, this event was possible with great participation and with many impulses.
Really Participate – Don’t Just Take a Look
Father Clécio Almeida from the Archdiocese of Santa Maria – already as a seminarian he made the covenant of love in the Tabor Shrine – gave the opening lecture. He invited all participants to really take part in the congress and not just take a look. He pointed out the Marian mission of Fr Kentenich with the words of the pre-founding document of 1912:
“Under the protection of Mary we would like to learn to educate ourselves to be free, firm and priestly characters.”
On the second day, he and the participants looked at the reality of the pandemic. He made us reflect in a very interesting way about the pandemic.
Fr. Anderson José do Nascimento, military pastor in Campinas / SP, got to know the Movement and the Schoenstatt Shrine in Santa Maria / RS while he was working in Santa Maria and helping at two congresses of the “Friends of Fr. Kentenich”. His lecture had the title of the congress: “Our way goes home to the Father.” In a simple but very profound language, he showed how one can overcome the current time with Mary.
Father Wendel Mendonça, also a military pastor in Brasilia, gave a true lesson on the covenant of love, from the Old Testament to the Schoenstatt covenant of love. Recently he confessed: “I love Schoenstatt.”
In a very lively way, Sr. M. Raquel Mainardi showed the history of the covenant of love in Schoenstatt and how it affects our lives.
Testimonies Awaken Life
Lively testimonies from people from Santa Maria and from various cities in Brazil contributed to a family atmosphere, which has never been missing at any congress. In particular, the novena to Fr Kentenich aroused the interest and confidence in Fr. Kentenich, and people wished to learn more about him. There was a strong desire to widen the circle of “Fr. Kentenich’s friends” so that even more people would work for his beatification.
The coronation on the third evening was a wonderful experience.
The Blessed Mother was again proclaimed as MTA in the process of beatification of Fr Kentenich. This event was recorded in the Tabor Shrine with the participation of Fr Clécio Almeida and the candidates of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary.
The conclusion was the Covenant Mass in the large hall of the “Centro Mariano” movement house, with strict adherence to the hygiene regulations in the pandemic. The main celebrant was Father Clécio Almeida. He could very well combine the conclusion of the congress and the renewal of the covenant of love. This day also commemorated 70 years of the beginning of the Pilgrim Shrine Campaign, which was on September 10, 2020.
Outlook for 2021
Due to the success of the first virtual congress, it was decided that in the coming year 2021 around September 15th, God willing, the congress will take place again in Santa Maria, but will also be broadcast virtually at the same time so that many who cannot undertake this long journey can take part.
Giovani and Fabiana Sturmer, who made the proposal to Sr. M. Raquel and worked hard to make it happen, spoke of the “numbers” of participation in the congress: “236 participants from three countries (Brazil, Portugal and Peru) and from 14 states in Brazil. The broadcasts on Facebook and You tube were open to everyone. The virtual registrations gave us an overview of the participation. Many people continued to ask for materials from the Secretariat or to prepare for the covenant of love. More than 70% of the registrations were participants of the previous congresses of the “Friends of P. Kentenichs”, and they expressed the wish to continue to participate virtually.”