Within the framework of an exhibition of religious orders and Church communities, called Monastery Market, the Sisters of Mary from Quarten, Switzerland, introduced themselves at the Zurich Central Station displaying the spirit of Schoenstatt and of the Church on the go, sharing their experiences in a spirit of unity.
Missing a train to visit the monastery’s marketplace
The initiative through which the participants wanted to make the life of religious communities more visible in society was a great success. Up to 300,000 people travel through the traffic junction at the Zurich train station every day. Swiss broadcaster SRF as well as other media reported extensively on the Klostermarkt. The booths of the various communities were very busy on both days and there was good communication with passers-by.
The atmosphere at the place, according to Sister M. Paula, from Quarten, was really good. “Many people told us that they had skipped a train in order to visit the market. They didn’t want to miss it. Some said the atmosphere was really special, without commercialism, without hustle and bustle.” In a story on “DRS aktuell” on May 5th, an elderly gentleman commented that he had hardly ever experienced such a positive and joyful market at Zurich’s main station. And Sister M. Margarit, also from Quarten, emphasized: “One also had the impression that it was nice for the religious orders to meet each other and chat informally.
Assembling rosaries and decorating candles between coffee and beer
at the monastery and the Tiny House of prayer
The Sisters of Mary’s place was very centrally located, in the middle of the monastery market, where you could see various crafts from the monasteries. Next to it was a monastery cafe, an information booth, a barbecue stand and a prayer room, which was set up in a Tiny House cart. In the outer circle of the hall were monastery stalls with items for sale, such as beer, monastic wine, cakes, herbal ointments and salves, rosaries, candles and much more.
“Assembling rosaries was a great success, so much so that we were busy instructing and assisting almost non-stop both days,” said Sister M. Monja Schnider. In all, 24 candles were decorated and about 70 large and 15 small rosaries were assembled over the two days. “These crafts gave us the opportunity to talk about many things,” continues Sister Nun. “Many wanted to know how we live. Some young women asked about our vocation story and what it felt like to be called by God to this path. Others shared their concerns. They wanted to make a small rosary as a gift for people who were sick, needy or even dying, and they also asked us to pray for them or for acquaintances and friends.”
The Pilgrim Mother, present on the tables, or the picture of the MTA, as well as the photos and testimonies of some Schoenstatt Sisters on an information wall, were also frequent opportunities for conversation.
Perspectives of an alternative life
“Whereas a few decades ago everyone could have an idea about religious life and entering a religious order was at least considered a courageous step worthy of recognition, today many people have no idea what such a life can mean,” writes Sabine Zgraggen in a contribution from the Catholic media center kath.ch. The scandals surrounding spiritual and sexual abuse have obscured and distorted the real meaning of such a life decision. “So: congratulations for the courage, joy and power to show yourself to the public in a new way in the station hall and to show a different way of life.”
Moment of prayer shared by the communities’ collaborators (Photo: Schnider).
The following are the communities that participated in the Monastery Market:
Benedictines Disentis; Capuchin Sisters of Leiden Christi Convent; Cistercian Sisters of Wurmsbach; Dominican Sisters of Cazis; Benedictines of Einsiedeln; Swiss Jesuits; Swiss Franciscans; Monastère du Carmel, of le Paquier; Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood of Neubenken; Dominican Sisters from Ilanz; Sisters from Bruchmatt; Benedictine Sisters from Otmarsberg, Uznach; Betlehemiter from Immensee; Diakonissenhaus from Riehen; Mallersdorfer Sisters from Germany; Spirituelle Weggemeinschaft from Rheinau; Fokolar Movement and the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary from Quarten.
For two days, a market of monasteries was held in the hall of the Zurich train station, organized by KOVOS, the Conference of Religious Communities and Other Communities of Consecrated Life of Switzerland (Photo: Schnider).