Today we celebrate the birthday of our father and founder. We give thanks for his person and calling to found the Schoenstatt Work. The Schoenstatt Press Office congratulates Father Kentenich with a series of witnesses who shed light on their relationship with him in the here and now. These short videos will be posted every Monday on: https://schoenstatt.com/father-kentenich-today-a-series-of-videos/`
Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. Many churches and homes are decorated with the fruit of field and garden. The photo on top of this page shows the Thanksgiving altar in the Adoration Church in Schoenstatt (in Germany Thanksgiving is celebrated on the first Sunday of October). The fruits of the harvest are a symbol for all the gifts we have received in the course of the year.
Holy Scripture reports that the apostle Paul and his companion Silas rejoiced when they were beaten with rods and thrown into prison. In the Acts of the Apostles (16:25) we read: “About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns as the prisoners listened…” (Acts 16:25). Despite their misfortunes they were able to praise and give thanks because they felt God’s nearness and love which sustained them.
Likewise, in the Dachau concentration camp, an environment that didn’t really encourage gratitude, Father Kentenich formulated a prayer of thanksgiving that is well known:
For everything, yes everything, let me give heartfelt thanks, clinging to you, Mother, with tender love. What would have become of us without you and your motherly care.
Because you delivered us from great need and bound us to yourself in faithful love, I will give you thanks, be grateful evermore, and dedicate myself to you with undivided love.
Guided by our year’s motto “Lead from the Shrine with Trust in Divine Providence and Charity to All’ Thanksgiving may be an opportunity for us to ponder all the gifts we have received during the course of the day and past year. Concretely:
Each evening, try to discover at least one good gift from God and give thanks for it.
Be more attentive to the good that others do for me and thank them for it. In gratitude, return to others small gifts of love.
Reflect on difficult situations that, in retrospect, have had a positive effect after all? Did I mature through them? Did I learn something new? Was there perhaps an unexpected solution which emerged? Can I also give thanks for that?
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and praying for your and your intentions in the Confidentia Shrine,
Our family Fruit of the Vine Home Shrine was blessed on March 18, 1981, at the home of my parents, John R. and Elisa Garza, in Harlingen, Texas. All the family, including my married sister and her family, chose the name and made contributions to the capital of grace in preparation for the blessing of our home shrine. We chose the name Fruit of the Vine thinking of Jesus as the Vine, who leads us to the Heavenly Father and we as the branches, who are called to be fruitful. Our home shrine is truly a family shrine where all our needs and those of our relatives and friends are presented to our Blessed Mother and she has glorified herself and been victorious many, many times over the years.
After my father died, we decided to crown the Blessed Mother in his memory. We designed our crown as a family, my niece made the drawing, which was sent to the Schoenstatt Brothers in Germany where our crown was handcrafted in their goldsmith shop. All our family is represented on the crown with our birthstones and the name of our shrine is etched on the front of the crown. We again prayed and made contributions to the capital of grace in preparation for the crowning. Our contributions to the capital of grace were represented with colored beads of each our birthstones. All the beads were placed in a small glass replica of a shrine and they were offered during the Crowning Mass on February 4, 1986. Afterward, the beads were taken to Lamar and Sr. Philomena made several rosaries for us. These rosaries and our crown have become family treasures. We have the tradition of adding birthstones of new additions to the family when the baby is baptized. The crown is also taken to church to be blessed when the children receive the other sacraments. Our crown now represents five generations.
Our home shrine has always been open to all our family, relatives and friends. It also welcomes our Schoenstatt Fathers and Sisters of Mary and is available for Schoenstatt meetings and activities.
After my mother died, I became the custodian of our home shrine although it has always been with me since I always lived in the family home. When I moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2008, our Fruit of the Vine Home Shrine came with me and it continues to be the center of prayer for me and all my family, and the Blessed Mother continues to answer all our pleas and needs. My current desire and striving are to obtain a scepter to present to the Blessed Mother in honor of my mother. Thanks, a thousand thanks dearest Blessed Mother for thirty-nine years of blessings you have bestowed on all of us.
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
We are the Leyva Family and we are delighted to share our Schoenstatt story with you. Our journey began in October 2014. We were both raised in Catholic homes; however, we went through the motions of being Catholic but we didn’t have an intimate relationship with Jesus or our Blessed Mother. We were in no rush to have a relationship with God or our Blessed Mother.
We started our family in 2008 and life moved on. Our marriage was just in a routine and we did not grow as a couple. As for Araceli, her priorities were our two girls and my priority was my work. We always had time for everything except for God and our Blessed Mother. They weren’t in our lives or minds unless we needed them.
At some point in our marriage, we felt lost, in despair and with no direction. Then in October 2014, Robert lost his eyesight and there was too much uncertainty in our lives. The doctor did not know if he would regain his eyesight or if he would be able to return to his job. We turned to our Blessed Mother by praying the rosary and she directed us to Her Son. Unbeknownst to us we were being led to the Schoenstatt Movement.
A few years later, we were introduced to Sr. Danielle Peters, who led us to the Schoenstatt Movement. As we became more involved with Schoenstatt, we realized that God wanted our family to be more involved and to become instruments for His Son and Our Blessed Mother. We have met so many loving and caring Schoenstatt families who have guided and enriched our marriage, such as the Arth and Chaidez families. It has been the Mother Thrice Admirable who has opened our eyes and guided us to her Son.
As Schoenstatt members we thought our family’s transformation would be immediate; however, it was a gradual transformation. We noticed that our prayer life strengthened because we now prayed daily and we noticed graces and blessings bestowed upon our family. An example of this was when Araceli contracted Covid-19. She was hospitalized for 9 days and was bedridden for another 2 months. It was our Schoenstatt group who created nightly prayer meetings and a meal train for our family.
We felt a strong desire to learn more about Schoenstatt and make it a part of our daily lives. We prepared for our Covenant of Love and sealed it in August 2020. Our hearts were filled with a love and joy we had never experienced in our marriage – and we wanted more! We could now see the transformations within our hearts, family, and marriage. We could also see the blessings and graces in our lives. This led to a deeper commitment to Schoenstatt and the blessing of our home shrine which took place on April 17, 2021 and we named it “Con Ojos de Amor,” with Eyes of Love. It was a beautiful experience. At one point, the smell of roses was very strong and friends who attended said they felt the presence of our Blessed Mother.
We ask that our Blessed Mother continue to educate and guide our family to Her Son. We ask for the patience, humility, obedience, and discernment to continue our spiritual journey Con Ojos de Amor.
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
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
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!
We had five of our nine children when we erected our Heavenward Home Shrine on January 15, 1984.
Feeling somewhat inadequate, it was our great desire, just as we had invited God to be a Third Partner in our marriage, that His Holy Mother would join us, as parents, and assist us by educating youthful hearts. We saw the Home Shrine as a source of grace and a fortress of sanctity.
We invited Our Lady, as Our Father and Founder had invited her, to make our home her dwelling. It was there that we would find, through the years, solace in grief, answers to tough decisions and peace during turmoil. It was, and still is, our wish that She will lead, through this “open door”, our family and all who come in contact with her Heavenward.
Rick and Kate Otto Apostolic Family Federation, San Antonio TX
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