June 1, 2023

Covenant Day 2023

Sister M. Antonia Stanek

This is the day the Lord has made

Every year on the last Sunday in April, Polish people
from every Polish parish in Germany,
where the Pilgrim MTA is known, come to Schoenstatt.

Some wait for this day with great joy and longing. In October 2022, the organizers met to choose a theme and motto for the Covenant Day 2023. At this time, we divided the preparation of materials for the different events on the program. We decided to pray a novena to Father Joseph Kentenich and to ask for his intercession and support as our spiritual preparation for the covenant day.

The devil doesn’t sleep

Each of us had a task to fulfill. This was not so simple, because often there were obstacles or difficulties along the way. Sometime there were misunderstandings, too. You might ask, why?

The Mother of God invites all of us to give ourselves to her in a covenant of love. More than 60 people responded to this invitation this year. So, therefore, it was understandable that “someone” didn’t like that and tried to stop us from reaching our goal. There were obstacles we had to overcome.

One of these was the ordering of the medals for those who were to seal the covenant of love. The company from which we ordered the medals finished making the correct amount we wanted but, unfortunately, not the way we wanted them. After we expressed our dissatisfaction, we finally agreed to accept the medals because the day on which the covenants of love were to be sealed was not far off.  After a few days, it happened that the company found a few medals that were the size we had ordered. It is interesting that no one knew from where the medals came or who made them. The manager of the company recommended the medals be remade. We were very happy this was possible after all, but would the delivery still arrive in time? The situation was quite tense. In the end, the Blessed Mother was victorious and we received the medals a few hours before our celebration began.

Geteilte Freude ist doppelte Freude

Bei den Vorbereitungen für den Liebesbündnistag erlebte ich große Offenheit, Großzügigkeit und Bereitschaft vonseiten meiner Helfer. Sie unterstützten mich nicht nur in organisatorischen Dingen, sondern sie versicherten mir auch ihr tägliches Gebet. Sie teilten ihre Erfahrungen und Fähigkeiten nicht nur mit mir, sondern auch untereinander. Das war eine große Freude für mich. Es hat mir Freude gemacht, gemeinsam die Pilgerpakete vorzubereiten. Einige Animatoren hatten weite Wege zu machen, um etwas für die Pilgergemeinschaft vorzubereiten.

Am Freitagnachmittag trafen die ersten Pilger ein und freuten sich, bei den letzten Vorbereitungen helfen zu können, doch auch hier gab es kleine Schwierigkeiten mitten in der freudigen Atmosphäre. Wir warteten ungeduldig auf die Leute, die uns die benötigten Dinge bringen sollten, und auf diejenigen, die für die Vorbereitung der elektrischen Geräte zuständig waren. Auch sie hatten mit erheblichen Schwierigkeiten auf den Straßen zu kämpfen. Obwohl uns diese Vorbereitungen viel Energie und Zeit gekostet haben, haben wir wirkliche Gottes Gegenwart erlebt. Während wir in der Aula arbeiteten, sahen wir einen wunderschönen Regenbogen am Himmel – ein Zeichen des Bundes.

Dilexit Ecclesiam – He loved the Church

4/292023: Pilgrims came from various parts of Germany to Schoenstatt; from among other places, Essen, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Wiesbaden, Dortmund, Wuppertal, Karlsruhe, Nurnberg, Offenbach, Stuttgart, Hamburg, New Ulm, Bielefeld, Oldenburg, and Koblenz. There were eight priests and 40 children among the 480 participants.

The words Dilexit Ecclesiam, engraved on the tomb of Father Joseph Kentenich, were the theme and motif for the day. We gathered at 10:00 a.m. in the auditorium of the Adoration Church in Schoenstatt Germany, where our program began with a festive greeting before the image of the Blessed Mother.

After words of welcome, we reflected on the experiences of the past year. Then we heard testimonies about the person of Father Joseph Kentenich and the meaning of the words Dilexit Ecclesiam. Next, the children took to the stage and, in their natural, childlike way, told us how to build a Church. A short pause followed. Then the organizers from Essen presented “Father Joseph Kentenich and his love for the Church.” After that, we prayed the Regina Coeli prayer and the priests gave a blessing before we went to lunch.

At 2:00 p.m. we gathered in the Pilgrim Church to adore our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. This time of adoration and silence prepared us for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The main celebrant was Father Bartłomiej Ilków from Dortmund.

In his homily, he said that

Mary is Mother of the Church and that she teaches us to love the Church. The Blessed Mother was the great example for the founder of the Schoenstatt Work, Father Joseph Kentenich, and he followed her in her love for the Church. Father J. Kentenich did not have an easy life: his time in the concentration camp, the misunderstanding by the Church, fourteen years of exile (…) He has merited the acclamation: Dilexit Ecclesiam (…) Loving the Church means making her more faithful to Christ through prayer and striving. The Mother of God teaches us to love the Church as it is and to try to make it better. After the solemn Holy Mass we went in procession to the Original Shrine where 50 people made the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother.

The Poles in the homeland have Czestochowa, the Poles in Germany have Schoenstatt

Our great reward for the trouble, commitment, and work we put into this event is the gratitude expressed in the testimonies of the pilgrims.

Mr. Maciej from Nurnberg wrote:
“In Schoenstatt, one experiences unity and bonds to others, but especially with the Blessed Mother. Despite physical fatigue, we returned home spiritually recharged and full of hope knowing that Our Lady is with us every day, that Mary loves us and helps us.”

Ms. Krystyna from Cologne recalled:
“On the one hand, I was filled with joy for my pilgrimage to Schoenstatt, because I wanted to seal the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother. But on the other hand, I was afraid to make it because I get cold feet. When I had my medal in my hand, I felt so happy and light, as if I had received wings. Thank you for this wonderful day…” 

Mr. Leszek from Karlsruhe wrote:
“The Poles in our homeland have Czestochowa, the Poles in Germany have Schoenstatt. The Mother of God waits for you and me in each of these Shrines. Her protection surrounds us. She gathers us around Jesus Christ. I returned from the covenant day spiritually strengthened by the deep conviction that when life is experienced in the community of the Church, life is more beautiful for Poles outside Poland.”

Carried by prayer

The nicest gift that I received in preparation for the covenant day was the gift of prayer. People from many sides assured me that prayers and gifts were being put into the capital of grace for our covenant day.

On the actual covenant day I was very peaceful—I felt carried by prayers. From these prayers, I also draw strength to serve my compatriots in Germany. It is a source of joy that I want to share with others.