Our Founder – Father Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968)
Father Joseph Kentenich was born in Gymnich near Cologne, Germany, on November 16, 1885. As a youth, he recognized his calling to become a priest.
Nothing moved him more than that the reality of God be recognized in the world and that the freedom and dignity of every person be respected.
In Mary, the Mother of God, he saw the example for each person’s relationship to God, self and others. In everything that he undertook, he felt called to form this “new” Marian person.
After his ordination to the priesthood in 1910, he first worked as a teacher and educator in the Pallottine House of Studies in Schoenstatt, Vallendar. An extraordinary bond of trust developed between him and his students. They made his love for Our Lady their own and learned to see Mary as a bridge to God.
October 18, 1914, became the first milestone in Schoenstatt’s history. Alert to the signs of the time and listening keenly in order to perceive God’s special wishes, Father Kentenich—together with a small group of students—entered into a Covenant of Love with our Lady in the shrine at Schoenstatt. This was the beginning and the lasting foundation of today’s worldwide development of the Schoenstatt Work.
With The People
After 1914, the circle of those who knew Father Kentenich expanded extensively. Schoenstatt developed into a movement of religious and moral renewal. Father Kentenich became the founder of several communities for priests, families, men, women, and youths. Throughout his life, Father Kentenich received the special grace of sharing in the cross of Jesus Christ. During the time of persecution under National Socialism, he spent time in solitary confinement and prison as well as three years in the Dachau concentration camp.
From 1951-1965 he was separated from his work by decree of the Church. He lived this time in close personal imitation of Christ, and in the midst of all the trials, he himself became a father for many. He considered the cross an expression of God’s merciful, fatherly love.
With The Church
Father Kentenich wanted to serve the Church he loved through his life and suffering.
At the end of the Second Vatican Council (1965) he was called back from exile. Saint Pope Paul VI received him in audience and recognized his life and work. With great circumspection and dedication, he spent himself for almost three more years at the service of the Church.
On Sunday, September 15, 1968, the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, immediately after the holy sacrifice of the Mass, Father Kentenich returned his life into the hands of God forever.
According to his wish, the words Dilexit Ecclesiam (He loved the Church) were engraved on his tombstone.
Father Joseph Kentenich’s process for beatification was opened on February 10, 1975. Each year, thousands come to his final resting place in the Church of the Trinity on Mount Schoenstatt.