August 28, 2023

Seventy Years as a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary

Sister M. Nilza P. da Silva

“The Blessed Mother is present here and would like to seal a covenant of love with each of you.
She can and will lead and educate us.”  

 The person speaking with such conviction to the groups of people who come on pilgrimage to the Schoenstatt Shrine – the Tabor of the Perpetual Presence of the Father – in Atibaia/São Paulo, Brazil, is not an inexperienced person speaking at her best. It is:

Sister Maria Aparecida Rossato,

ninety-four years old – only six years away from being one hundred!

In July, with great enthusiasm, she celebrated the seventieth anniversary of her incorporation into our family, the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. Her eyes radiate with joy at her vocation and her heart is filled with happiness and gratitude that she has dedicated all her strength to the mission that God entrusted to the Mother and Queen in her Schoenstatt Shrines.

“For me, it is important not to let difficulties overwhelm me. When I look back over these seventy years I have nothing but gratitude. I have experienced numerous difficulties that were great and all of them were overcome in the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother. It is important to ask her to help us”, she confesses as she looks back on those years.

 Proven loyalty

In 1951, Sister Maria Aparecida became a postulant of the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. It was the same year that our founder Father Joseph Kentenich was removed from his office—a time during which the Church examined the authenticity of his charism and the bond to his foundation. It was under these auspices that she experienced the first fourteen years of her affiliation to the Sisters of Mary, a time that was so decisive for her choice of vocation, her growth into the spirituality and principles of her consecrated life.

Far from distancing herself from the founder, she saw him as an instrument sent by God and a divine invitation to collaborate in the realization of his charism for the Church. She explains,

The founder is also the father of his foundation. Without him there is no Schoenstatt Work. He is the root through which God offers us his charism which is an answer to the needs of the time.”

 The proclamation of the covenant of love is the core of her being

Each morning sister begins her day with a pilgrimage on foot to the Schoenstatt Shrine. Rain or shine, and supported with a cane, she walks the few meters up the hill and brings many people and their contributions to the capital of grace with her in her heart. She meets other people, whom she greets cordially and to whom she proclaims the covenant of love in a personal conversation or even in a talk to a little group in the Shrine.

Young people are enthused by her life

Mikaela de Moura Gomes, 20, who is in the process of joining the community of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary relates,

“A Sister of Mary who is celebrating seventy years of incorporation [into the Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary] is an example of faithfulness for us young people who are just beginning our formation. As she once said yes to her vocation and remained faithful, now we are called to follow her path of dedication.

Sister Maria Aparecida is a simple, noble, and joyful little Mary–a sister who smiles at us with pure and joyful eyes. It is a joy for me when I am together with the Sisters, because we witness the most beautiful thing about a vocation: to give oneself totally to the mission, to be Mary’s living presence in the world!”