Greetings for November 15

The name of our Home Shrine was chosen after much thought. There is, it seems to us, a lack of purity and an absence of belief in God in the world. Faith is a gift—one that the Blessed Mother wants to offer us through her immaculate presence in our home. This gift then becomes, through us, part of our hearts, our home, and our church community. From there it spreads into the whole world.

Our Home Shrine was dedicated during the Marian Year on October 3, 1987. It is a refuge. Here we experience the presence of the Triune God, the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, and the Angels and Saints. In our home shrine we strive to cooperate with God in becoming one with Him according to his Holy will. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is thereby victorious through us and in us.

In our Home Shrine we:

  • Encounter the mission, vision and charisma of our founder, Father Joseph Kentenich.
  • Receive the graces of the Original Shrine and the graces connected to the mission of our home shrine.
  • Are united with all the daughter and home shrines around the world.
  • Gather personally and spiritually with the Schoenstatt family.
  • Welcome other people to come and enjoy the peace and graces that the Blessed Mother gives to her children and that open their hearts.
  • Evangelize with our devotions, talks, and visits.

Sanjuana and Guadalupe Serrano. Women’s League, Laredo TX

Lead from the Shrine… Bethany

At the time of its dedication we were both working and our children had “a bit much” extra-curricular activities.  We led a life of “busyness” and yearned for quiet and stillness that would help us develop a deep prayer life.  We chose the name Bethany because it was there that Jesus visited the home of his friend Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. In this home in Bethany is where Jesus’ “human” nature was most apparent.  We wanted this presence/nearness with Jesus as experienced by the family in Bethany. Our home shrine is the special place of communicating with our Lord — of “visiting” with Him in personal prayer. 

Our Bethany home shrine was dedicated on May 24, 1990, Ascension Thursday. We have been richly blessed with the graces of our home shrine. In and from our home shrine, we experience fruitfulness in our apostolic life…”Go therefore and make disciples….”

For thirty years, three generations of our family have received our Mother’s care and education.Every home shrine has its “uniqueness.” Our Bethany home shrine has been domestic church for our grandchildren with Grandma and Papa. Since 2002, we have had Camp Grandma – an annual summer camp for our grandchildren (Papa is facilitator for outdoor activities.)  Our Home Shrine is our campers place to start and end the day with prayer, to learn about our Catholic faith, to enthrone or renew the enthronement of the symbols.  Learning activities for feast days that are celebrated in the Church on the days of camp are included in the program.  It is a place to present flowers to Mary and to offer paper crowns designed by each camper and which are offered to Blessed Mother in the wayside shrine (first years), then in the Cor Unum in Patre Shrine.  This pilgrimage is special – other camp outings are field trips. 

Although the summer camp in 2002 started with three days a week for four weeks with either two or three grandchildren per year – fast forward, in 2015-2019 it has been only three days for the entire summer.  Each year camp has had a different theme. The time with Blessed Mother in the home shrine is a constant.

Julian and Pilar Huerta, Apostolic Family Federation, TX

Lead from the Shrine… Childlike Acceptance

The story of our home shrine under the title of Childlike Acceptance began with the purchase of our first home in Corpus Christi in 1986. We married that same year. Both of us were members of the Schoenstatt Movement prior to our marriage so it was very natural to invite the MTA into our new home as newlyweds. The main desire was to always be faithful in our marital commitment and faithfulness to our Church.

In 1987 and 1989 we welcomed our first two children, Anna and Philip respectively. In between Anna and Philip, we experienced a miscarriage that deeply saddened us but through prayer and belief that our MTA takes perfect care, we were soon blessed with our son Philip. Our home shrine was an integral part of our lives especially during the times when our children were little. One experience that we will never forget is when our oldest daughter Anna contracted a very unusual autoimmune blood illness that almost took her life in 1990.  It was on a Saturday night in the hospital that together our family, Schoenstatt couple’s group, and Schoenstatt Sisters and Fathers all connected through the Confidentia Shrine, home shrines, and heart shrines that Anna pulled through. The path to full recovery took about six months and during this time our home shrine became the place where our worries, joys, successes, and setbacks were placed daily in our MTA’s care. We asked especially for Father Kentenich’s prayers to help in healing our little Anna and also to protect Christel as we were at the same time expecting our third child. It’s in this way that we realized how important it is to have that special little place in our home where we experience our Mother Thrice Admirable’s motherly love and care for us!

Our home shrine has moved a few times since our first home in Corpus Christi. We were blessed now with four children (Anna, Philip, Clara, and Magdalena) and of the joys and challenges that come with raising a family. We formally dedicated our shrine in May 1993 in Corpus Christi, TX. We invited the Blessed Mother to help us understand God’s will that eventually led to a move to central Texas. We chose “Childlike Acceptance” as our home shrine’s mission because like the Father and Founder of Schoenstatt we wanted to always remain open to what God has in store for us in our life together. This also led to temporary moves to China and Germany. 

Just like the Original and Daughter Shrines, the home shrine is where the Blessed Mother takes care that we always remain faithful to marriage and family. As with many families there are so many instances we can recall where the MTA led us to feel the love of her Son and to understand God’s will for us. Whether we experience issues related to health, financial struggles, job, faith crises, or raising teenagers – for examples – we learned to trust in a childlike way to accept the challenges that present themselves in life, but always knowing that we can expect the graces needed to endure and overcome these. Our home shrine has been and continues to be an important part of our home!

Servus Mariae nunquam peribit!           Christel and Ruben Montez, Apostolic Family Federation, TX

Lead from the Shrine… Spring of Joy

I was introduced to the Schoenstatt movement in 1976.  I started to attend Women’s League retreats and pilgrimages at Lamar (Confidentia Shrine).  Although I did not know much about the movement, I grew to have a very deep devotion to our Blessed Mother.  This inspired me to organize pilgrim buses to Lamar from Rio Grande City, my hometown where my parents, Blas & Julia Guerra lived.  They helped me organize these pilgrimages along with my brother (Blas, Jr.) and sister (Olga). The local people were very excited to go on pilgrimage to visit the Blessed Mother every year.  At first, we attended the May and October pilgrimages. 

Later, we attended the May Pilgrimages every year until 2019. The pilgrims were very disappointed there was no pilgrimage in May 2020 due to the pandemic.  In December 22, 1982 a Wayside shrine was blessed at my parents’ property. It was named the Victory Wayside Shrine. She indeed is victorious over all our needs. I made my Covenant of Love on February 18, 1979. Early on, I purchased a small octagon shaped framed image of the Blessed Mother at the little gift store run by Sister Philomena.  It was blessed and I still have it in my bedroom.  The official home shrine picture was blessed in 1988 and the name of the Home Shrine is Spring of Joy. 

She has been there for me through difficult times and joyful times. Like a true mother, she has always been at my side to support me and to continue to educate me. In January 29, 1990 I made by Membership Dedication.  My home shrine has been a real blessing to me, my family and friends.  If anyone has a difficult situation, they call me and I entrust that petition to the Blessed Mother in the Spring of Joy Home Shrine.  We always can count on her. She continues to guide us through this life’s journey. Blessed Mother, thank you for making your shrine in my heart and in my home!

Aida Guerra, Harlingen, Texas

Lead from the Shrine… Mother of Mercy – Queen of Miracles

We chose this title because of the need for mercy and miracles in all of our lives, both the experience of Jesus’ mercy and miracles, and also the teaching of mercy for ourselves and for others. Jesus can and will do what is humanly impossible through trust in Divine Providence, as the Blessed Mother lived and taught.  

Our Home Shrine was consecrated on the feast of Christ the King- November 22, 2015. It is a place to bring our joys, struggles and sorrows as well as our gratitude for His blessings through Our Blessed Mother. Our Home Shrine has been a comfort and a source of grace, such as the stabilization of our daughter’s long- time brain tumor, which her doctors had not thought possible, the location of doctors who could further help her, and the spiritual miracle of a renewed hope in our lives, even in the midst of sad and tragic news for dear friends and extended family members.

There has been joy in the midst of extreme hardships, such as a deeper trust in God, knowing that He is walking the journey with us all as we seek His mercy and learn to love each other with a deeper love during these hard times. Some of our dearest friends who experienced a tragedy in their family, have found peace and comfort from being in Our Home Shrine, which is situated in the heart of our home and is a natural place for us to gather for family prayer. We are grateful that the Blessed Mother is teaching us to hope against hope and to trust Jesus, even when others say it is not humanly possible.

Kristen and Rick Martinez, Texas Family League, Diocese of Fort Worth

Lead from the Shrine… Cenacle

Two years after having made our Covenant of Love, and abandoning ourselves to Divine Providence, we were expecting our 5th child.  We had just moved to a new home that was removed from our previous church family and not very close to our Schoenstatt friends either.  We longed to dedicate our home shrine but were very much struggling with our mission and our name.  Providentially, we attended a family group meeting where the priest expounded on the idea of the Cenacle – a term we were not familiar with.  Father explained that the Cenacle was the situation that the Apostles found themselves in after Jesus ascended into Heaven. They felt lost, and uncertain of how to proceed, yet they were gathered around Our Blessed Mother in prayer, imploring help.  At the coming of the promised Advocate, they found themselves transformed, filled with zeal and ready to step out to offer their lives for Christ. 

We felt the Cenacle situation mirrored exactly where we found ourselves as a family at that point in time.  We were isolated, feeling alone, a little uncertain of how we were to navigate the consequences of abandonment to God’s will – a larger family with little income- and we were, through our Covenant of Love, definitely centered around Mary in prayer.  And so, we dedicated our home shrine on February 4, 1998, the Cenacle Home Shrine.  Later, a gift of a prayer from a young friend formulated for us the mission, “Where love is genuine, strong, and conquers all things.”  And, many years later, again entrusting our growing children to God, as we re-entered secular schooling after ten years of home schooling, we centered our family around the motto, “Contra Torrentum- Against the Torrent!”  We can still hear our adult children refer to this motto as they struggle to form their own families in today’s world.  The name, the mission and the motto have come to fruition as we watch our grown children, transformed through the presence of Mary and Jesus in our home shrine and the genuine love that permeates our family, give them the foundation that strengthens them to be firmly Catholic in a society that rejects God. 

It’s hard to put into such a short description what our home shrine has meant for our family.  The very presence of Our Mother and her Son in our family is tangible and real.  Upon hearing that we wanted to move the home shrine into the family room with the TV, our 12-year-old son said, “No!  Then I have to be careful what I watch on TV!”  We had to address a couple of issues after that statement. We firmly credit our home shrine, and the living shrine, for our children being such good friends with each other today.  We frequently hear that they are spending time together as young families, evidence of a genuine love.  Our prayer life is centered in our home shrine where the heart of our Mother reaches out to capture each one in their unique personality to serve her Son.  We have been transformed and our children have been formed in the presence of Love – the third person of the Holy Trinity.  Strengthened and changed by that Love, together with Mary, we continue to step out of our home shrine to bring Christ into the world.

Brent & Andrea Woolums, Texas Family League, Diocese of Fort Worth

Lead from the Shrine… Bethlehem

The Blessed Mother came to dwell in our house through the Home Shrine in the year 2005. Although, I was the only one in Schoenstatt at the time (Mother Branch), my family welcomed the Blessed Mother. In a few years everyone was drawn into Schoenstatt! Our daughters grew up in the SGY and my husband and I joined the Family Branch about 10 years ago.

We decided on the name of our home shrine primarily for two reasons:

– Bethlehem is the cradle of sanctity and we strive to be saints formed by the Blessed Mother from this graced filled place.

– Bethlehem is the place where Mary gave birth to the Savior. We discerned that our mission is to “birth” Christ to each person we encounter.

For the first year, our home shrine was placed in the master bedroom. Then during Lent while praying in the home shrine, I was wondering what to give up or sacrifice? I heard the Blessed Mother urging me to move the home shrine downstairs where all the family could easily access her. This I did not want to do! This was my shrine, my place of grace and solitude. Such a sacrifice, I thought…

Our home shrine relocated to the core of our house. From every outside door you can see the MTA as you enter. Just like the dinner table, it has become the area of many family discussions, decisions, prayers, celebrations, and personal reflections. Both front door guests and back door visitors can be greeted by our home shrine. This has brought numerous questions over the years from visitors and given us the opportunity to share a little about our Catholic faith. Moving and sharing the home shrine was such a small sacrifice in return for countless graces and blessings.

Over the past 16 years as the Blessed Mother has dwelled in our home shrine, she has also taken up residence in our hearts. “Mother takes perfect care” … each family member’s heart shrine has developed in its own individual manner and authentic timing.

Kim and Julianne Davis, Diocesan Leaders, Family Branch, NTX

Lead from the Shrine… Cana

We encountered the Blessed Mother in 1996, through some homeschooling friends of ours. However, unbeknownst to us, Schoenstatt really entered our lives a few years before. We were experiencing difficulties in our extended family, and after sharing our concerns with a dear friend, we had been given the Schoenstatt novena to Our Mother Thrice Admirable, without knowing anything of the Schoenstatt Movement. We experienced so many miracles through her intercession, that when we did meet the Schoenstatt Movement through our friends, we were very open and ready to make our covenant of love, with open hearts for the home shrine a year later!

It seems that God’s plans are so perfectly put together. Looking back, we can see how our dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (which we had made with the help of the Schoenstatt Family and the Sisters of Charity) had also prepared a place in our home and in our hearts for all the gifts that God wished to share with our young family. It was as if Jesus said: Here I am, and I bring along my Mother to help you.

As the journey began, and as we were so open to inviting Jesus and his Blessed Mother into our homes and our lives, we truly did not realize the great powerful gifts we were given. But a different world unfolded day by day in our little home and in our hearts. She became more and more present in our daily lives and we now cannot imagine life without her, here in our Cana Home Shrine. We grew up in the Shadow of the Cana Home Shrine, all decisions and all-important family discussions took place here, as well as daily prayers and family routines. Annual liturgical practices were celebrated here. Decorations to match the change of the liturgical seasons were acquired – rituals for Lent, Easter, All Saints, First Communions, Confirmations, May Crowning, Graduations, sending off of children with blessings, important decisions, petitions, thanksgivings, simply daily greetings – all took place in our Cana Home Shrine. Through our MTA’s intercession, her request to our Lord They have no wine we entered into that first miracle each time. She wishes to accompany us in our marriage and family journey and for that we are so ever grateful for our Blessed Mother.
We have seen many miracles in our children, in our lives, and in the lives of those who come to our home and present their hearts to her here. She is real and she has the heart of a very tender loving mother, and she wants to help all her children, all the children of God, so that we may join her forever in his heavenly kingdom. Do not be afraid to experience Our Mother!! What a blessing she is to us all.

With heartfelt love, we thank you Mother dear, with you to guide us we need have no fear, when all around seemed dark and drear and gray, you stood as beacon for a brighter day. Your smile illumined every wakeful hour, you did uphold us with your gentle power. Thanks, a thousand thanks to you, to God shall be now and for all eternity. Amen.

Lisa and Mike Arth, Apostolic Family Federation, Southlake, TX

Lead from the Shrine… Cause of our Joy

Why did we choose “Cause of Our Joy” as the name for our home shine?

Simply said…. this title in the litany of the holy Rosary always settles deep in our hearts. The Blessed Mother says her YES in her fiat and heaven rejoices and earth receives the Savior! The Blessed Mother urges Jesus for his first miracle and the wedding couple receives not only more, but the choicest wine for their celebration! At the foot of the cross, Jesus gave his mother to us and she becomes our mother too! Mary is the purest and most perfect vessel of God’s love and unites her motherly tenderness to that perfection making us, her children, the most blessed benefactors! This is the joy of our lives!!!…. That the sweet Mother of God is our mother too!

On a practical level, it is a blessing to walk by our home shrine, which was dedicated in 1997, and see one of our children sitting there staring at our MTA.  With the onset of the Covid virus, our family was able to experience the extension of the graces that come from the shrine in our home shrine.  Since all of the churches were closed, we were able to livestream and celebrate Holy Mass(es) in our home shrine.  It is our place of comfort and joy, but also the place where we can take our sorrows and struggles to our Blessed Mother.

Elsa and Luis Dominguez, Austin, TX

Apostolic Family Federation