December 11, 2023

A Very Special Trip to Cambrai, France

The postulants of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary

On the Road

in Joseph’s Footsteps: 

NINE Postulants, SIX days, but only ONE great and deep experience.

From November 23-28, 2023 we, the postulants of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, experienced something very special. Joseph Engling himself probably called us to Cambrai in order to understand Schoenstatt even better and to be able to live the covenant of love with the MTA more deeply. On the way to Cambrai we visited some of the places that were important in Joseph’s life and that would also become very important for us.

The first station was Verdun, France. This is where the longest and greatest battle of the First World War took place. It made an impression on us that even 100 years later, fields and forests were still full of holes left by shells. This gave us an idea of the terrible conditions Joseph had to live through during the war.

We passed through Brieulles and the Forgesbach valley to reach

Rémonville, France.

An experience of weakness for Joseph, an experience of courage for us. We knew that Joseph Engling was one of the first Schoenstatt heroes, but what was so extraordinary about him? He was as human as we are, he fell like us. His secret was that he mastered life. By virtue of his love for the Blessed Mother, he rose again and again. He honestly and humbly acknowledged his weakness and had the courage to start again. His steadfastness in making a fresh start made him a hero. Rémonville wants to give us this grace.

Thus we arrived in Cambrai filled with impressions and gifts. The next days were characterized by work and apostolate. It was a special gift for us, but also for the little Schoenstatt family in Cambrai, that we became acquainted with each other. The next day we went to

Calonne on the Lys,

the place where Joseph offered his life to Our Lady. But we simply couldn’t find the memorial … Our GPS failed, but Joseph himself led us safely to our destination after we cried out “Joseph, help! “

It was raining very hard, but what was that compared to the 5,000 shells that rained down on the field at the time? This place inspired us to ask ourselves specific questions:

–   What am I committed to?
–   To what am I currently giving my strength?
–   Do I allow love to cost me something?

Genuine love always urges toward totality. Joseph’s childlike and trusting love for the Blessed Mother impelled him to offer his life for the future of Schoenstatt. We do not even want to imagine where we would be in the Schoenstatt Movement today if Joseph had not offered his life. Schoenstatt would not be what it is. Perhaps we wouldn’t be here. Can you imagine your life without Schoenstatt? We can’t! Thank you, Joseph!

One of the many highlights of this trip was the path of Joseph’s death that we walked in silence and prayer.

Joseph, we walked in your footsteps,

in the footsteps of your trust, your union with the MTA, your love, your faithfulness and your total dedication.

What he offered out of love was taken seriously by the Mother of God. She chose this place and this moment to accept Joseph’s offer of his life and to let it become fruitful for all of Schoenstatt, for the Church, and for the world. Step by step, our hearts were moved to say with Joseph to the Blessed Mother: “Only one thing I ask, let me love you, love you without measure or end.”

What did we take away from our trip to Cambrai?

A deeper, more personal relationship with Joseph, he really is our big brother! As Schoenstatters, we strive for high ideals, but how do we make them concrete? In Joseph we experienced our spirituality lived. We understood what Father Kentenich said of him–that Joseph was “the embodiment of the Founding Document,” because he always lived out of his covenant of love. He always went forward with the support of the Blessed Mother. He was faithful in small things, very honest with himself, and most important of all: he always got up again.

There’s no such thing as impossible!

Conclusion: Cambrai is a must! If you don’t go to Cambrai, you’re missing out on something incredible! Joseph has so much to tell us and so much to give us!

So: let’s go! It’s worth it!