“Mary, let us mirror your image!”
A glorious dawn rose behind Mount Sion in Schoenstatt, Germany, on the morning of January 27, 2024, heralding a radiant day. The Schoenstatt houses were already bustling with life. Anticipation could be felt everywhere–in the relatives, friends and guests who came from near and far to celebrate the investiture of nine new novices of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. Many busy and praying hands had prepared for this day for a long time and accompanied the novices on the path of their vocation. On this day, the nine young women celebrated a first highlight on their way into the community: They received the dress of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. They connected the reception of the dress with the longing, expressed in words of the founder Father Joseph Kentenich
“Mary, let us mirror your image!”
This was their motto for the feast day.
Gratitude and petition at the vigil
The evening before the investiture, the guests were prepared for the celebration in the Adoration Church. With international music and prayers in the native languages of the novices, those present thanked and prayed for the vocations of the nine young women from Paraguay, Argentina, India, Spain, Mexico and Poland.
A very moving moment was when each of the families of the novices brought a burning candle for their daughter to the altar. In a moment of silent worship, the many languages united in praise to God, who always calls people to his special service and promises life in abundance.
The time has come!
Finally the time had come! At 10:30 am. the bells of the Adoration Church began to peal and the guests waited excitedly for the novices who processed to the Church from the Novitiate House. Festive organ music sounded and the choir began to sing as the novices entered the church in white wedding dresses.
“The most moving thing for me was seeing the faces of the novices. They were so radiant and looked so happy. That was wonderful!”
said one excited young woman who was in Schoenstatt, Germany, for the first time. Her eyes shone and revealed how touching this moment was for her.
A large number of concelebrants and altar servers from Schoenstatt’s various priestly communities joined Dr. Father Bernd Biberger, General Director of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, at the altar. A special choir of Sisters of Mary and young women who are staying for several months at Schoenstatt’s place of origin during a “Schoenstatt time” provided the music for the festive Mass.
The motto of the feast day applies to all of us
In his homily, Dr. Father Biberger interpreted the motto of the day as a petition and a mission that applies to everyone: God presents the Blessed Virgin Mary to us as the redeemed person, whose relationship to God and to others is in harmony. Mary knew herself loved by God and thus could abandon herself to his plan. In this sense, she is a role model for us and we can grow deeper in our relationship to God through our covenant of love with her.
The Rite of Investiture began with a hymn to the Holy Spirit. Then came the moment in which Sister M. Joanna Buckley, the General Superior of the community, read aloud the names of the new sisters.
Andrea González Valdez – Sister M. Rafaela
Catalina Sofia Duggan – Sister M. Consuelo
Verónica Rina García – Sister M. Verónica
Małgorzata Renata Andrzejkowicz – Sister M. Małgorzata
Christy John – Sister Christy Maria
Margreate Anthony – Sister M. Margreate
María Belén Gómez Gonzáles – Sister María Belén
Estrella María Ortellado Almada – Sister Estrella María
María Elina San Roman – Sister María Elina
The novices knelt at the steps of the altar and received the dress, the belt, the veil, the medal, and a burning candle as symbols of their vocation to follow Christ as Schoenstatt Sister of Mary. They left the church to put on their new dress.
At this time, the provincial superiors, regional superior, and delegation superior expressed their gratitude for the individual novices by placing a lily in front of the picture of the Mother of God.
When the solemn Magnificat was intoned, everyone rose to greet the newly clothed novices who processed radiantly down the center aisle to the front. It seemed the applause after the song would not end.
The gratitude and joy of the hour flowed into the celebration of the Eucharist.
After Holy Communion the novices dedicated themselves to the Blessed Mother and sang a song that expressed their longing to be more and more like her.
The sun shone brightly with the novices
To the sound of G. F. Handel’s Easter Hallelujah, the congregation left the church and gathered in front of it to congratulate the new Sisters of Mary.
“The atmosphere is like World Youth Day: joy, many languages, and unity in the faith,”
said spontaneously a seminarian who served at the altar. And the sun shone brightly like the novices the whole day.
While the novices went with their guests to the different houses on Mt. Schoenstatt, all other guests were invited to lunch at the Marienland Conference Center. The sisters opened their doors to over 400 guests who shared with each other about the wonderful clothing ceremony.
At 4:00 p.m. the guests and families of the novices met in the theater of the Father Kentenich House to congratulate and celebrate together with various performances. With a photo presentation, we relived the new sisters’ journey until now. They have noticeably grown together into a beautiful, family-like community during the time of their candidacy and postulancy.
A day of joy and gratitude
For us sisters, too, this was a day of great joy.
“Spontaneously I thought of the day of my investiture and I am happy and grateful
for the gift of my vocation to our community,” one heard from the sisters over and over again.
The day offered many opportunities—across the borders of languages and nations– to come into conversation with each other and to share common joy. We celebrated a festival of faith in a God who loves people and needs everyone. The radiant novices gave us an idea of what it means to be “redeemed people” who allow themselves to be taken into God’s service and to pass on the joy of faith – like Mary.