Blessing of the Altar
for the First Schoenstatt Shrine
in Temisoara, Romania
For a number of years we Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary have been doing ministry in the Church of Romania, especially in the diocese and city of Timisoara. Since April 2019, we have had a residency there. We do pastoral care for families and youth; we work with the Apostolate of the Pilgrim MTA, and we work in the Episcopal Ordinariate. Through our being and ministry, we want to bring the people closer to Jesus and to God the Father through the Mother of God (the Mother Three Times Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt) as a bridge to them. In Schoenstatt, we venerate the Mother of God especially as an educator who draws the hearts of many people to herself and educates them to be instruments and apostles for the establishment of Schoenstatt and the kingdom of God here in Romania.
A milestone in the history of the Schoenstatt Movement in Romania
June 9, 2023 was an important milestone in the history of the Schoenstatt Movement in Romania. On this day, in our House Chapel, we experienced the blessing of an altar for a Schoenstatt Shrine. It is our great longing that someday this altar will be placed in the first Schoenstatt Shrine in Romania. The Blessed For a number of years we Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary have been doing ministry in the Church of Romania, especially in the diocese and city of Timisoara. Since April 2019, we have had a residency there. We do pastoral care for families and youth; we work with the Apostolate of the Pilgrim MTA, and we work in the Episcopal Ordinariate. Through our being and ministry, we want to bring the people closer to Jesus and to God the Father through the Mother of God (the Mother Three Times Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt) as a bridge to them. In Schoenstatt, we venerate the Mother of God especially as an educator who draws the hearts of many people to herself and educates them to be instruments and apostles for the establishment of Schoenstatt and the kingdom of God here in Romania.
A milestone in the history of the Schoenstatt Movement in Romania
has to show us where she wants to establish her throne in our country and, from there, dwell among us. We are letting divine providence guide us. Since the arrival of the altar, which was crafted by a woodworker in Arad according to the precise dimensions of the altar in the Original Shrine, and since the event of the dedication of the altar, we know that our MTA (Mater ter admirabilis = Mother Thrice Admirable) is among us in a special way in this newly built “pre-shrine”.
Questions inspiring concrete contributions to the capital of grace
The proximate preparation began with the meeting in February of the leaders of the various circles of the Schoenstatt Movement. During a nine week novena, we as a Schoenstatt Movement strove for the different symbols that are part of the altar: the crucifix, the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul, the altar table, the MTA picture, the light frame with the words Servus Mariae nunqual peribit, the candle lighter, the relic of St. Vincent Pallotti. During the eighth week we looked at the entire altar, and the novena concluded with the tabernacle and the Blessed Sacrament. Each week one branch of the Movement prepared inspirational material for the relevant symbol, including questions inspiring concrete contributions to the capital of grace in everyday life. This material was sent to everyone per Facebook. Thus, the Schoenstatt altar became more and more a part of ourselves. This first common striving contributed greatly to a “we-feeling” of our still small Schoenstatt Family, increasing the anticipatory joy of this feastday.
“We are at home here.”
Our diocesan bishop, the Most Reverend Josef Csaba Pál, was very willing to bless the altar on June 9 in the afternoon. We had guests from Germany, Hungary, and different parts of Romania, some from great distances in Romania. They included members of the Schoenstatt Family, youth, representatives of the Apostolate of the Pilgrim MTA, people from the pilgrims’ circle and many who knew us sisters or knew Schoenstatt and wanted to share the joy of this special event with us. One priest expressed it this way: “We like to come to you because we experience a family here; we are at home here.”
Nature offered us a special pre-program in the early afternoon. There was a severe thunderstorm that drenched the city and our inner courtyard where with the snack had been prepared. But the sun came out when the festive Holy Mass began.
The celebration took place in three languages: Hungarian, German, and Romanian. It was transmitted live to the larger rooms of the house allowing 150 participants—among them 24 priests—to be deeply united. Transmission via Facebook (Schoenstatt Romania) made participation possible from a distance or to relive it later.
The first Schoenstatter from our country, Father Kapor Jánas greeted Bishop Pál and assisted him in the Shrine.
God always acts out of love
In his homily, the bishop referred to the Gospel account of the hour of the Annunciation and the Blessed Mother’s yes. God always acts out of love and we, like Mary, are called to answer God with love, freely and joyfully, which also includes sacrifice and is borne by trust that God always wants what is best for us.
A very significant moment was when the bishop inserted a relic of St. Vincent Pallotti into the altar and then dedicated the altar. It was a joy for us sisters to prepare the newly dedicated altar for the sacrifice of Holy Mass. We brought the altar cloth, a crucifix, flowers, and candles in procession.
After this solemn liturgy, our guests were invited to our courtyard for refreshments and joyful fellowship in wonderful weather. In addition, a power-point presentation provided insight into the beginning of the Schoenstatt Movement in Romania and the apostolate we Schoenstatt Sisters have been doing since we founded a house here. We ourselves are amazed at what has come about thanks to the support of many friends and volunteers and through the many contributions to the capital of grace of our local Schoenstatt Family.
One lady who travel four hours round trip with her group said that now she understands better the mission of the sisters to bring people together and to lead them to the Blessed Mother and to God. An eighty-five-year-old lady who has been bringing contributions to capital of grace for a Schoenstatt Shrine in Romania since 2014 said she would like to see a Schoenstatt Shrine in Romania [during her lifetime]. She was happy today was a first step in this direction.
With great gratitude we looked back, and filled with confidence we embark on the future because we have experienced: She, the MTA, is the great missionary. She has worked miracles and she will work more miracles!
Quotes from the homily:
“This is it—what the people of today long for—great joy being with God. To be with the Blessed Virgin Mary in our house is a great joy. Now we want to dedicate an altar. It is a replica of the altar in Schoenstatt where Father [Joseph] Kentenich celebrated Mass. This altar has a double meaning:
First: To always return to our roots. The dear God gave Father Kentenich a charism: to live in the spirit of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We should learn from her again and again the meaning of being a Marian family. This altar brings this spirit closer to you and to us.
Secondly: It won’t happen without personal sacrifices, and they will be demanded also of us. But your sacrifice, dear Schoenstatt Sisters and dear Schoenstatt Family, your sacrifice is a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Our dear Lord first loved you, loved us. The Mother of God brought the sacrifice of not keeping her Son for herself, but rather, giving him to the world, to us. She brought her sacrifice, but she did it out of love. Love should be what motivates us to sacrifice.
Something else must also distinguish us: Trust. God trusted the Blessed Mother. He entrusted to her his own Son; he entrusted salvation to her. Trust begets trust. And Mary responded with trust. She didn’t know how it would happen, but filled with trust she answered, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”
This house now has a Schoenstatt-altar at its center, an altar that is waiting for a Schoenstatt Shrine to be built. This is a place of trust. God is at the center of our relationships. In him, and with Mary, we learn to wait and to look at others with hope and trust. In this way, the kingdom of God is established in our midst.