Greetings from the Confidentia Shrine!
Today, we remember the death day of Gilbert Schimmel. He was born in rural Wisconsin in 1906 and grew up on a farm and later in a small town. His work took him to the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, where he met and married Joanna Hintz. As a worker at the famous Allis-Chalmers plant, he had to stand up for his rights in one of the most notorious labor disputes of the mid-20th Century. He did so with the courage and charity of Christ. As a husband and father of four children, he lived his Catholic faith out of deep conviction and tender love.
The couple met Father Kentenich in 1954, it was a true sursum corda moment, which changed their lives. They joined the Monday Night talks given by Father Kentenich which challenged the couple to live up to the high ideal of Christian marriage. During many encounters with Schoenstatt’s founder, Gilbert learned that his first apostolate as husband and father was his family. He wrestled with this idea since he liked to volunteer in his parish and collect funds for the missions.
In the end, he felt compelled to offer his life to the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt as a “Second Joseph Engling of America.” It was an offering that God accepted when he died of cancer in 1959. His biography was published under the title “The End Crowns the Work” and is available at our Schoenstatt stores.
The encounter with Father Kentenich changed Gilbert’s life. Surely, we can remember meeting a person who lifted us up and awakened the longing in us to change for the better. One of Father Kentenich’s observations during his first visit to the US in 1948 was the need for saints to be formed in the United States. For him it was clear:
Personalities are most powerfully enkindled by other personalities. They can only find the full realization of life’s meaning in personal confrontation, in receptiveness and surrender to a personal you, in a personal and mutual giving of self and being accepted, in a covenant of love between the personal I and the personal you. (….) This can be experienced in either a great saint of the past or in a leading personality of the present.
St. Valentine whom we celebrated yesterday, Father Kentenich and his spiritual son, Gilbert Schimmel, and above all, the Blessed Mother, show us the way. May we follow their example with a joyful sursum corda!
Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary