On October 1, 2020, our Schoenstatt Marian School – SMS for short – near Schoenstatt in Vallendar, Germany, celebrated its 75th birthday.
Father Kentenich had had the courage
to found our school In the harsh poverty of the postwar time.
In so doing, he responded to the requests of parents who could no longer send their daughters to Koblenz for school because the Pfaffendorf Rhine Bridge had collapsed. The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary wanted to give these girls a fair opportunity for education.
In Four Holy Masses
We celebrated our jubilee on October 1 and 2, 2020, in the large Pilgrim Church, divided by age groups over four holy Masses. We strictly maintained the prescribed hygiene regulations. Instead of our school orchestra and school choir, only a small group of students sang with masks and accompanied by piano.
On October 1, Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp of Cologne celebrated the holy Masses with the upper classes and the 9th and 10th graders. He is connected to our school because of his nearby hometown and through relatives who were students at the SMS.
“Live Justly with One Another”
At the holy Masses, students presented a brief look back at the founding of our school and at the past year, in which we had prepared our jubilee under the motto, “Live justly with one another,” with various projects: garbage separation, saving energy, academy days on the “dignity of the human person” … They could see that our motto is current not only in view of climate change, but also in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. In order to show one perspective on overcoming the crisis, they mentioned Pope Francis, who calls solidarity a way out of the pandemic and cites John Paul II: “There is no solidarity without love.”
After the Example of the Blessed Mother
The students mentioned the founding talk of the school on October 1, 1945, in which Father Kentenich went into the meaning of the name “Marian School” and encouraged the youth to follow the example of the Blessed Mother and not let themselves be surpassed in their love of God and neighbor. They concluded with the thought that this love leads to living justly with one another, with God, and with his creation.
God’s Love as the Motivation
Auxiliary Bishop Schwaderlapp gave a rousing homily in which he stressed God’s love as the motivation for the creation of the world. He said that the human person has the freedom to respond to this love, and that Mary responded to this love of God in an outstanding way. The auxiliary bishop illustrated this by way of the Gospel text of the wedding at Cana, where Mary rightly perceived the needs of human beings, spoke the right words, and performed the good deed. He encouraged the students also to do the same.
Again and again he built bridges to their everyday life, pointing out situations in which a person might be, for example, in danger of ridiculing others or repaying evil with evil. He told the example of a homeless man, who after receiving a lunch bag and a chocolate bar at an unusual time of day asked the sister who gave it to him to tell him about Jesus.
Father Herter and Father Schneider, who celebrated the holy Masses for the younger students on October 2 – the Feast of the Guardian Angels – likewise took up the concern of a lived love of neighbor by advising the students to be guardian angels for one another.
At each holy Mass, the class presidents brought along their collections as a birthday gift for our partner school in Burundi, so that the students who live in great poverty can better protect themselves from Covid.
Sister M. Gabriele Schreck, the school principal, or Ms. Jennifer Weber, vice principal, thanked all collaborators at the end of the holy Masses. In all, these jubilee celebrations were a sign that positive things can also grow out of crises and challenges.