Investiture of Hemma Strutz of Austria
– with Video-Impressionen from the clothing ceremony –
On November 21, 2021 eight young women from four continents began their journey as Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary celebrating their investiture, their clothing as Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, in the Adoration Church on Mt. Schoenstatt, Vallendar, Germany. Because of the coronavirus, in-person attendance was restricted to about 300 guests; consequently more than a thousand people participated virtually.
“I was very impressed by the young women who decided at a young age to simply give their lives to God for the Church, for Schoenstatt—actually, for us,” said Dr. Martin Rigler, from the Family Council of the Austrian Schoenstatt Movement. “I think we Schoenstatters live from the fact that young people like that give themselves, that they place themselve completely into the service of God and renounce a natural family. So I was very much moved to me to see these young women.”
Just a hair’s breath before the lockdown, almost 60 guests traveled from Austria to the investiture. Due to the ever increasingly stringent travel restrictions in Austria, 20 people had to stay back; instead of 80 there were only 60 guests. But once underway—by bus, car, and plane, the discontent and coronavirus-related fears receded and joyful anticipation spread. Especially on the bus a fantastic community was formed. “I would like to say something about the bus-community,” remarked Mr. And Mrs. R. “We felt very, very comfortable. Everything was so well organized. The Strutz family is so hospitable. A huge thank you to the Strutz family for the invitation.”
Thousands of viewers
The family of Hemma Strutz, friends and aquaintances, youth, and families of the Schoenstatt Movement came together in a colorful-mix. The youth especially liked the vigil celebration on the evening before the great feast day: “We, too, liked everything very much, especially the vigil celebration,” said Bernadette Lanz in the feedback session on the bus ride home. “It was really nice to meet the young women, fatastic to see how they are. The novices make such a nice group. They are so lively, full of initiative, it’s great. I’m sure that they have much to contribute to the Schoenstatt Movement . I’m looking forward to that and am curious to see their further development and how their journey will continue.”
The highpoint naturally was the investiture ceremony in the Adoration Church on Mt. Schoenstatt—but with very restricted attendence because of the coronavirus. Also very restricted was attendance in the auditorium of the Church where everything was livestreamed. Therefore, thousands of viewers could be present virtually. “We didn’t regret at all that we could not celebrate the investiture in the Church but rather in the auditorium,” emphasized Mr. and Mrs. Fellhofer. “In the Church we would only have seen the sisters from the back, but we saw them from the front. We could see their obvious joy and their radiant faces.”
The beaming faces of the young women who took center stage this day made a lasting impression on the Austrians. “You wouldn’t belive it, but I was wrestling with tears during the investiture ceremony,” said Joseph Stuebler, who with his wife Andrea were the MCs on the bus.
“It really was so moving. And the young women simply radiated. It was a joy to watch. For this alone, everything was worth it. This event that we could witness was absolutely precious for us.”
Allowing for growth
The pastor of the novice’s home parish, who hardly knew Schoenstatt until now, was on the bus on the way home. Last but not least, he should be given the final word. He expressed his congratulations to the “freshly baked” Sister Hemma with these words:
“I am happy to see a young person going her way with joy. I didn‘t know that much about Schoenstatt. Two things especially impressed me: The one is the new person— Jesus Christ as the new person. And the second thing that particularly impressed me was the pedagogical scheme—the educational program: It allows for growth and promotes that which is within. I wish this for you! Heartfelt thanks.”