December 21, 2022

Christ in the mall

Sr. Ann-Marie Nicholas
Kapstadt, South Africa

“Thank you, sisters, for putting Christ

back into Christmas!”

This was the comment of one young mother who encountered the Schoenstatt Sisters and some members of the Schoenstatt movement at a popular shopping centre in Cape Town. Several years ago, we Sisters began the

apostolate “Christ in the mall”.

On the last Sunday of Advent, we spent most of the day at the entrance of the local shopping centre inviting people to write down their prayer petitions and light a candle in front of a large image of Mary. At another table children were invited to make their own Christmas cards. One sister was sitting by the picture of Mary praying for the intentions entrusted to us, other sisters spent time in conversation with shoppers.

Sr. Ann-Marie explains. “Some people walked straight past avoiding us at all costs, others promised to return but never did. However, many did stop to write a petition or speak with us. This year I spoke with several people who are greatly suffering.

  • One woman, herself walking in pain with a crutch asked me to pray for her sister who is suffering with cancer. Another man who at first did not know what to write in a petition book returned and wrote “Pray for my friends’ son who was recently shot and died.”
  • And then there was this one teenage boy who asked could he write something even though he wasn’t Christian.
  • We encountered a lot of joy during the day especially when the head teacher of a local Catholic high school saw us and in no time posted our action on social media encouraging others to come and engage with us.
  • He wrote: “Amazing waking into a mall and seeing the Schoenstatt Sisters putting Christ back into Christmas, outside Constantia Village Shopping Centre. They are also offering to pray for shoppers. What a gift! Also, lovely activities for the children to do. Need more of these initiatives outside our malls, so we are able to keep the real focus of Christmas in our hearts and minds.”

The children definitely enjoyed making their Christmas cards, two little girls staying almost a whole hour creating various cards and stars. They, as well as others have promised to attend the crib crawl and carols afternoon at Schoenstatt Constantia a few days after Christmas.  Many of the car park and shopping trolley attendants are immigrants from other countries in Africa. They are often neglected and live under difficult circumstances. For a number of years, the Schoenstatt have approached these groupings and invited them to various activities at our centre in Constantia. During the day we were also able to engage with them. They feel at home in the Shrine and at Schoenstatt and are grateful for the interaction.

We are already looking forward to this apostolate next year!