July 5, 2021

Accompanying Women in Spiritual Their Growth

Sr. M. Beatris Lingg
Quarten, Schweiz

Interview with Sister M. Beatris Lingg

In 2020, we celebrated 100 years of women in Schoenstatt. You, Sister M. Beatris, were able to look back on 20 years of work with Schoenstatt Women and Mothers in Switzerland. Sister M. Beatris, what thoughts come to your mind spontaneously when you reflect on the fact that you helped shape one fifth of the 100 years of history of women in Schoestatt?

 O, I have never thought about it that way, but it is true, I have had the privilege of helping shape one fifth of the 100 years of history of women in Schoenstatt. The simple words gratitude and joy come spontaneously to my mind. Schoenstatt has been a part of my life since my early childhood and consequently I have received very much from Schoenstatt. That’s why it is important to me that I pass on the treasures of Schoenstatt to as many women as possible.

What do you treasure most about your work in general with women and in particular with women in the Schoenstatt Movement?

 There are very many aspects of this work that I like. I especially like accompanying women on their journey through life. It’s interesting, varied, enriching, and often challenging. By far, in most cases I experience a friendly give and take in my interaction with women. It‘s a plus that when working with women and mothers in the Schoenstatt Movement we walk together in faith, we draw from the richness of Schoenstatt spirituality, and we live our attachment to God, the Blessed Mother, and one another in the covenant of love with the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt .

What do you “do” specifically in your work as a so-called “Mother-sister”?

My task as a “Mother-sister” is manifold and there is no danger of boredom. There is office work. Annually, for example, materials are worked out for group meetings and this material is offered to the group leaders.  Articles are also written for “Woman,” a periodical for women and mothers in Switzerland that appears four times a year.

As “Mother-sister” I strive to keep in contact with the women and mothers through letters, phone calls, emails, SMS, or by visiting them. I like to visit individual groups and to organize these meeting. Conversations among women are always interesting and valuable, not only for the women but also for me. When the pandemic doesn’t change my plans, I hold workshops and various other events with and for women. I like to be available to the women for individual conversations which provide me with an opportunity to respond to the concrete questions the individuals have and to find answers applicable for each one.

In the last 20 years, I have witnessed the life-journey of many woman and I am happy that the women receive answers and strength for the future from the richness of Schoenstatt’s [spirituality]. It is a gift to witness how the personalities of women are formed and how the women embody their personal ideal more and more.

Much happens in silence. Exteriorly seen, we women and mothers knit with small stiches. Nevertheless, as a community we have made an impact. For many years we have sponsored “A Heart for Burundi.” We regularly give support to mothers and children in need. Currently the mothers in Switzerland are taking care that there is enough formula for the babies in Burundi. A big undertaking was our commitment to [finance] the large playground at the New-Schönstatt restaurant in Quarten, Switzerland which the children love to use. It is amazing what women and mothers will do to help others. I am very proud of them!

What do you find especially challenging about this task?

The greatest challenge for me is to find the words and images that correspond to the world of Schoenstatt so that the women of today can recognize, understand, and integrate this treasure into their daily life. Another challenge for me is the modern media. Now and then I have to ask for help from a co-sister or one of the women. It’s not always easy to have my hand on the pulse of  time and to be in step with it.

 What do the women appreciate most in the Schoenstatt Movement?

Actually, you should ask the women. Well, I can speak for one or the other because they always give me feedback. Often the women say that they could not master many things in life as well as they do if they didn’t have Schoenstatt. They appreciate being with other women on their faith journey. For many, their life out of the covenant of love [with the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt] provides support and security in the ups and downs of everyday life. Belief in divine providence has become a world view for many of them. It helps them to look behind events to discern the plan of God. There certainly are many more things that the women in Schoenstatt appreciate!

Twenty years is a long time, a third of your life! Isn’t that exhausing, burdensome…?

Indeed, I have spent a third of my life with women on their life-journey. Signs of fatigue, burnout, surely would be expected. Do you want to know what that looks like for me? I’ll be honest, I’m not that young anymore. My strength is weakened and I need more time to regenerate. But tired in the sense that I don’t want to continue, that is absolutely not the case. It would be tiring if everything were always the same. But that is impossible when you are journeying with different, interesting people. Women have the ability to motivate each other.

Although there are recurring annual events, there are always new women who are co-responsible for the preparation. This gives gatherings their own character and challenges me in new ways.

On the other hand, it is stressful when: Time is running out and progress is not being made with the written work; when the date of a conference is approaching and I don’t know how many participants will come. I am also burdened, at times, by the fate of one the other woman, because my heart simply suffers with them. It’s clear to me that burdens belong to life and can bring us closer to the Heavenly Father and to the Mother of God. This is a source of strength for the women entrusted to me and for me. Ultimately, just like the women, I give not only my joys but also my burdens to the capital of grace of our Blessed Mother in the Schoenstatt Shrine.

 Has anything changed, become better or worse, during these twenty years of work with the women and mothers?

Sure, some things have changed during these twenty years. The digital age is upon us here, too. There are things that have grown on the foundation of the first women. It’s important that we don’t stand still, because we are convinced that Schoenstatt is not just something for yesterday and today, but that it is also for tomorrow and the day after. Much has developed in these twenty years. That makes me happy.

What worries me and us as women and mothers is that in recent years fewer young women and mothers have joined us. We pray and trust in the Mother of God that soon a new young generation will grow up who will be open to the treasure Schoenstatt and will use its spirituality to shape their lives for the blessing of the Church and the world of the newest times. In March, we took the first steps in this direction with a Zoom meeting with young women!