Desde el Santuario lidera … Lazos con María

Desde el Santuario lidera … Lazos con María

Somos una familia mexicana establecidos al Norte de Houston, lejos de nuestro país, tratando de adaptarnos a nuestra nueva vida y cultura, tuvimos la suerte de educar a nuestros 3 hijos:  Pamela 27, Josemiguel 23, Cynthia 21 años con la ayuda de nuestra Mater Tres Veces Admirable de Schoenstatt hace más de 15 años; siendo invitados al Movimiento en el año 2007.

En aquel tiempo tuvimos la fortuna que la Hermana Mara Medina y el Padre Patricio Rodriguez trabajando muy duro para coordinar los grupos de Houston se dieron un tiempo para formar un grupo de niñas y otro de niños para educarlos los sábados una vez al mes, esto enriqueció mucho la educación de nuestros hijos para integrarlos al Movimiento de Schoenstatt que estábamos viviendo.

En abril 08 del 2017, en el Santuario de la Confianza en Lamar, Tex., sellamos nuestra Alianza de Amor Matrimonial a cargo del Padre Raimundo Costa, acompañados de nuestro grupo “Fortaleza de Maria”.

El significado de nuestra Alianza nos llevó a descubrir un momento único, real, tomados de las manos dimos el SI a nuestra Madre Santísima en el Altar. Ese fin de semana fue clave, nuestra Fe estaba expuesta abierta al corazón de María y sentimos la transformación que nuestras vidas dieron en todos los aspectos, eso nos llevó a volver el siguiente fin de semana a Lamar, Tex., hospedándonos en el Centro, pero ahora acompañados por nuestros 3 hijos.

El mismo año nos fuimos preparando y conquistando cada símbolo para la bendición de nuestro Santuario Hogar, los símbolos con los que ofrecimos nuestro Capital de Gracias fueron los siguientes: Pam: Espíritu Santo, Josémiguel: San José, Cynthia: Corona, Miguel: Cruz, Nancy: Lampara o vela, tomando conciencia de la importancia de cada uno de ellos.

Se llego el día tan esperado el 28 de octubre, un día hermoso de otoño listos para la Ceremonia y bendición precedida por el Padre Raimundo Costa., nuestro Santuario Hogar “Lazos con María” se estableció y ella vino para quedarse. a través de nuestro Santuario Hogar confirmamos que el lugar lo escogió nuestra MTA y ella nos dio su cobijamiento, nos educa y nos da un camino de vivir para conquistar la entrega hacia el Padre.

La casa de Nancy y Miguel, nuestra “Casa” ya no solo es nuestra es de nuestra Madre que acepto unirse a nuestra vida y se transformó en un “Hogar” de acogimiento, donde nos conduce a cada miembro de la familia a refugiarnos por nuestras preocupaciones, relajarnos, reponer fuerzas y aprender a aceptar lo que la vida nos ofrece bueno o malo, con la bendición y Gracias recibidas de nuestra MTA.

El Santuario ha sido nuestra Fortaleza en tiempos muy difíciles y desesperados donde hemos experimentado con enfermedades inesperadas y desconocidas difícil de asimilar, hemos seguido en el Movimiento con algunas responsabilidades que gracias a eso pudimos sostenernos y fortalecernos como familia, creo que si no estuviéramos en el movimiento no hubiéramos podido salir adelante por tanto caos en nuestras vidas.  Vimos como en esos momentos nos unimos aún mas como familia, tratando de buscar soluciones y nos aferramos y  conectamos con la Cruz de la Unidad viviendo el sufrimiento, orando al Padre que hubiera una Esperanza y que aceptábamos que se ha hiciera su voluntad y no la nuestra!   

Y así paso en el momento menos esperado después de seguir tratando nuestras metas, pasados 3 años en menos de 11 días se acomodó todo para programar una cirugía cerebral de alto riesgo para nuestro hijo Josemiguel, llegado el día con una espera eterna en el hospital, nos dieron la noticia que todo había salido bien, un Milagro de nuestra MTA y de nuestro fundador Padre Kentenich a quien le pedimos su intercesión y agradecemos infinitamente.

Otro de nuestros testimonios respecto al sufrimiento y dolor de perder a mi madre la Sra. Mary Silva, fue que mi corazón también se sentía muerto, nada me daba alivio o me hacía sentir mejor, ya no tenía lagrimas me embargaba la tristeza y una llamada del Padre Raimundo, me hizo reaccionar y sentirme feliz, aliviada al ver las gracias que Dios y nuestra Madre nos había enviado, el día que mi Madre muere  fue  el mismo día que nuestro Padre Fundador José Kentenich había muerto 15 de Septiembre y con la misma edad!  fue la señal que necesitaba para aceptar la perdida de mi madre.

Creemos que el Movimiento, nuestro Padre Fundador, la Alianza de Amor y el Santuario Hogar han ido llenando nuestras vidas y vemos la confianza y Esperanza para vivir el “Nada sin Ti, Nada sin nosotros”.

Familia Cisneros Silva, Houston, Texas

               




Lead from the Shrine… Lazos con María (Bonded with Mary)

Lead from the Shrine… Lazos con María (Bonded with Mary)

We are a Mexican family established north of Houston, far from our country, trying to adapt to our new life and culture. We were lucky enough to educate our 3 children, Pamela 27, Josemiguel 23, and Cynthia 21, with the help of our Mother Three Times Admirable of Schoenstatt. Our journey began more than 15 years ago in 2007 (delete comma) when we were (delete being) invited to the Movement.

At that time we were fortunate that Sister Mara Medina and Father Patricio Rodriguez were working very hard to coordinate the groups in Houston, and they took the time to form a  Girls’ Group and a Boy’s Group. They met once a month on a Saturday. This enriched our children’s education and it helped them to integrate into the Schoenstatt Movement that we belonged to.

On April 08, 2017, we sealed our Covenant of Matrimonial? Love at the Confidentia Shrine in Lamar, Tx. presided by Father Raimundo Costa. We were accompanied by our group “Fortaleza de Maria”.

The meaning of our Covenant led us to discover a unique, real moment, holding hands we said YES to our Holy Mother at the altar. That weekend was key, our Faith was exposed open to the heart of Maria and we felt the transformation in all aspects of our lives, which led us to return to Lamar, TX the following weekend and we stayed at the Center accompanied by our 3 children.

The same year, 2017, we prepared and conquered the name and each symbol for the blessing of our Home Shrine:  Lazos con María (Bonds with Medry), We offered our Capital of Graces for the following symbols: Pam: Holy Spirit, Josemiguel: Saint Joseph, Cynthia: Crown, Miguel: Cross, Nancy: Lamp or candle, and we became aware of the importance of each of them.

The long-awaited day arrived on October 28, it was a beautiful autumn day ready for the ceremony and blessing presided by Father Raimundo Costa. Our Home Shrine “Lazos con Maria” was established and she came to stay. Through our Home Shrine we confirm that the place was chosen by our MTA and she shelters, educates us and gives us a way of life to conquer and surrender to the Father.

Our  “House”, Nancy and Miguel’s house, is no longer only ours, it is our Mother’s who agreed to join our life and became a foster “Home”, where she leads each member of the family to take refuge in our concerns, relax, regain strength and learn to accept what life offers us good or bad, with the blessings and graces received from our MTA.

The Shrine has been our Fortress in very difficult and desperate times where we have experienced unexpected and unknown diseases that are difficult to assimilate. We have continued in the Movement with some responsibilities and thanks to that we were able to sustain and strengthen ourselves as a family, I believe that if we did not belong to the movement, we would not have been able to get ahead because of all the chaos in our lives. We saw how in those moments we united even more as a family, trying to find solutions and clinging to and connecting with the Unity Cross enduring suffering, praying to the Father that there was hope, and we accepted that his will had been done and not ours!

And so it happened, at the least expected moment after continuing to try to achieve our goals, then after 3 years in less than 11 days, everything was arranged to schedule a high-risk brain surgery for our son Josemiguel. The day arrived with an eternal wait in the hospital, they gave us the news that everything had gone well. It was a miracle of our MTA and of our Father and Founder JK whom we had asked for intercession and we thank him infinitely.

Another of our testimonies regarding the suffering and pain of losing my mother, Mrs. Mary Silva, was that my heart also felt dead, nothing gave me relief or made me feel better, I no longer had tears, and I was overwhelmed by sadness. A call from Father Raimundo, made me react and feel happy, relieved to see the graces that God and our Mother had sent us. My Mother died on September 15th, the same day that our Founding Father Joseph Kentenich had died and they were the same age! It was the sign I needed to accept the loss of my mother.

We believe that the Movement, our father and founder, the covenant of love, and the Home Shrine have filled our lives and we experience the trust and hope to live: 

“Nothing without You, Nothing without us”.

Having felt the sheltering and the transformation in our hearts during all these years, it can be said that it is difficult, we are not a perfect family we have a lot to work on but we try as a couple to take one step at a time even though daily life places many obstacles in various aspects of our lives; however, one of our joys as a couple is living and organizing some apostolates with our Schoenstatt family, such as the Family Mass (picnic) in the Houston area and this year the invitation to organize the Pilgrimage to Milwaukee, Wi.

Our longing as a couple was to visit the Milwaukee Shrine. Years ago, we told Father Raimundo Costa about our dreams, and he told us that’s beautiful but that we had to go on a Pilgrimage.

We planned everything since they gave us the date to visit the Center, and the big day arrived, on August 26, 2022. Our intention as pilgrims was to continue educating ourselves and knowing the historic places that our Father Founder visited and lived during the years of his exile.

Every morning we enjoyed Holy Mass in the International Shrine and in the chapel of the Provincial House with the beautiful voices of the sisters who preferred to sing quietly so as not to clash. We loved going to the House Chapel to join the Robin family for morning and night prayers. We visited the Shrine next to the Fr. J. Kentenich monument every morning and thanked the Blessed Mother for allowing us to come here.

Sister Maria Victoria prepared a wonderful itinerary for us. One of the first places we visited and had time to observe, touch and read, was the Father House at the Retreat Center. Likewise, meeting Sister Elizabeth who told us about her testimony and all the details that she lived with Father J. Kentenich, our admiration grew even more for Father’s love towards the people close to him.

Father’s close coexistence with the families was extraordinarily that of a Father of a family. We were very captivated by the testimony of the Villalon family, who were originally from Chile and who came to visit our father in Milwaukee on several occasions. We could see all the fruits that these visits brought forth, one of them, was their daughter, Sister Maria Victoria.

Another simply beautiful testimony was with Sister M. Eileen who invited us to visit the Movement House where Father Kentenich gave the Monday Night talks to the couples. Her experiences with Father were very emotional and we felt that it was Father Kentenich who spoke to us.  A need to listen to Father Kentenich’s voice arose within us, which was presented to us on several occasions as a very special gift without being planned.

From there we went to one of our Founder’s favorite places, Calvary Cemetery. It was a special joy for us to tour the place where he walked and to see the bench where he sat to meditate and chat with those who visited him.

In Milwaukee, we of course visited the Exile Shrine built by the Pallottine Fathers in 1954 and saw the building where Father lived.

The Founder Shrine was the first shrine built in the USA in Madison, Wi. it is filled with spirituality and graces. There we undoubtedly experienced our Father and Founder’s presence with us. They were very emotional moments with a very beautiful dynamic that Sister Maria presented to us and with the blessing that we received with our Father’s voice. That day remained forever engraved in our hearts and we returned to Texas with a great desire to return with more families to share the unique experience which calls us to a New Beginning.

Nancy and Miguel Angel Cisneros, Apostolic Family League, Houston, Austin, TX

               




Lead from the Shrine… Confidentia Patris Home Shrine

The history of our Home Shrine actually begins with me and a black and white MTA picture given to me by Sr. Margret somewhere between 1961 and 1963.  I had finished my first year of college and I had been struggling with those on-and-off thoughts about being a priest, so I decided to enter the major seminary.  Although I knew very little about the MTA, I took Her along with me and I always tried to give Her a respectable place in my room.  One year later, I returned home, enrolled at Pan American College in Edinburg, TX, and volunteered with CCD at our local parish where two Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary were employed.  Meeting them was the open door for me and Schoenstatt.  This was 1963 and Father Kentenich was in exile in Milwaukee.  The Sisters wanted to share Schoenstatt with me and as they told me all about it, they could not resist answering my questions about Father Kentenich.  Father Kentenich was the drawing card for me.  The more I looked into his life and person, the more I was drawn to him.  All I knew about him was what they told me, although they had never met him in person.  This really intrigued me and drew me more and more to Father Kentenich.  

I was asked to drive some young boys to Lamar for a summer camp.  I was glad to do so and it was my first encounter with the Schoenstatt Shrine.  I immediately found my home there, fell in love with the Shrine, and have never tired going to visit Blessed Mother in the Shrine.  That was 1965, and I was embarking on my teaching career.  As a single young man, I was a loner, there were no workshops for me or groups to belong to, but that did not deter me, I continued and pursued every avenue to learn more about Schoenstatt, the Shrine, the MTA, and Father Joseph Kentenich.  In addition, I received a great deal from Sr. Hroswitha, one of the three original Sisters who came to Texas in 1949, responding to Father Kentenich’s petition that she and two others come to Texas, build a Shrine, a home for themselves and to foster the Schoenstatt spirituality among the people.  I always like to say that that is why we are here today because they were asked to foster the Schoenstatt spirituality among the people.

Then in 1966, the first Schoenstatt Father to work in Texas came along.  That was Father Peter Locher.  From 1966 to 1970, he gave me so much.  I met with him as often as possible and I learned so much.  He especially gave me a great understanding of Father Kentenich, the importance of Fatherhood, and the need for healthy fathers.  Father Locher prepared me for my Covenant of Love which I sealed on July 9, 1967.  I married my beautiful bride on May 3, 1968, and on May 4, 1968, together we sealed our Covenant of Love as a married couple in the Confidentia Shrine and it was received by Father Peter Locher.  I have to also say that on July 8, 1970, with Father Locher at Father Kentenich’s tomb and in the Original Shrine, I deepened my Covenant of Love to the Blank Check level.  Father Locher prepared me for this and witnessed my consecration.  Later on, Elizabeth and I sealed our Blank Check surrender and became part of the membership in the Family League.  As we continued our journey, we later entered the Apostolic Family Federation and sealed our perpetual consecration on February 20, 1999, being co-founders of the first family federation course in the USA.

Shortly after I sealed my Covenant of Love in 1967, my mother and I erected a Home Shrine and later even crowned Her.  My mother would say that our Home Shrine was named Our Lady of Grace because Blessed Mother always granted her many graces and blessings. Although Mother died in 2009, to this day I have that crowned MTA picture in our home, Our Lady of Grace.

Already during the first couple of months of our marriage, Elizabeth and I erected our Home Shrine, without a special name, and it was blessed by Father Peter Locher. Interestingly, Elizabeth had won a large MTA picture in a raffle.  Her two younger sisters used to belong to a Schoenstatt girls’ group and were very active.  I used to always say that the MTA picture that Elizabeth brought along was part of her dowry.  We used that picture until we acquired a much larger one, but my original black and white picture was still around.

We bought our first home in 1973.  We told Blessed Mother that whatever house we bought had to have a special place for Her, that would be the sign that we had found the correct house.  Sure enough, the house we bought had a built-in space for a chest of drawers.  We converted it into a Home Shrine.  In 1995, we bought a new home and we had the same request, that there would be a special place for Blessed Mother.  Sure enough, the new house had a very nice walk-in closet which became our Home Shrine.

Our Home Shrine has always been our place of prayer, our refuge when we need to talk privately to our Mother, the place where we place the picture of someone in need, the altar where we can place all our needs and concerns, the place where we can have a good cry and the place where we can say goodbye.  When our parents died, we found much comfort in our Home Shrine and were able to bid them farewell.  When we have to go somewhere, we take our leave from Blessed Mother in our Home Shrine, when we return, the first place to go to is the Home Shrine to let Blessed Mother know we are home and to say thank you.  

The name of our Home Shrine is CONFIDENTIA PATRIS.  I say it is the Shrine of Father’s confidence or the Shrine of fatherly confidence.  Although our children did not really grow into the name of our Home Shrine, most of them have asked Father Kentenich for favors.  The first name of our son is José and it is for Father Kentenich who took care of him in his mother’s womb and delivered him safely into the world.  One of our grandsons is named after Father Kentenich.  Our daughter had some concerns during the pregnancy so she asked Father Kentenich to help her and thus her son is named Josef!  We and our children have asked Father Kentenich for favors and have made it known when they have been granted.  We believe in his sanctity and hope to witness his beatification someday.  Please, God!   Elizabeth was not originally attracted to Father Kentenich; however, during the 1970 pilgrimage, she had a very special encounter with Father Kentenich and has remained close to him ever since.

I would like to interject here that our Home Shrine has had many blessings and visits by key Schoenstatt personalities.  In the early years of our marriage, we experienced the visit of Father Johannes Tick who worked with the Family branch.  He was on an international visit and made a brief stop at our home and visited our Confidentia Patris Home Shrine.  We also enjoyed the special visit of Father Engelbert Monnerjahn, the author of the book JOSEPH KENTENICH, A LIFE FOR THE CHURCH.  He was the first postulator for the beatification of Father Kentenich.  He was on an international trip, visiting many places and speaking about Father Kentenich’s beatification.  We had a special meeting in our home and he spent the night with us.  Needless to say, he prayed in our Home Shrine.  We also enjoyed the presence of Father Esteban Uriburu who worked tirelessly for the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign.  He spent the night in our home several times and celebrated Mass in our Confidentia Patris Home Shrine.  We also hosted a very special meeting in which Sr. Petra was visiting many places and giving her testimony about Father Kentenich.  It was an enlightening experience and she also spent the night in our home.  Also, needless to say, she prayed in our Confidentia Patris Home Shrine.  Our Home Shrine was also visited by the then leading family of the international Apostolic Family Federation, Hans and Gertrude Zier.  After a great meeting, they also spent the night and prayed in our Confidentia Patris Home Shrine.  All of these visitors had special encounters or experiences with Father Kentenich and were convinced of his sanctity.  For us, these all confirm the name of our Confidentia Patris Home Shrine.

I think Father Kentenich has a very special task for the Church and world, and especially for families; therefore, I try to live his confidence because the world needs it today.  As fathers we need to model fatherly confidence, we need to show how important the Father is and we all need to give testimony to his sanctity.    Father Kentenich has done a great deal for us in our lifetime and we can never thank him enough.  I can only hope that when I am gone my family can discover how significant Confidentia Patris was for me!

Carlos and Maria Elizabeth Cantú, Apostolic Family Federation, Austin, TX

               




In Memory of Sr. M. Ludhelma Ebert

Return home

On July 27, 2022 our dear Sr. M. Ludhelma Ebert was called home by our Heavenly Father into his eternal Kingdom. She died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 98. She was the last of the original pioneer sisters who came to the United States in 1949.

Early life

Sr. M. Ludhelma was born on September 2, 1923 in Ringelbach, Germany, close to Oberkirch in the beautiful Black Forest, which also marked her personality. She had a complete school education, and after that time attended a school of home economics for two years. The longing for a religious vocation led her to Schoenstatt and she decided to enter the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary.

Following God’s call

She began postulancy on November 1, 1945, the year of our founder’s return from the concentration camp of Dachau. She received her Marian dress from the hands of our founder on June 20, 1946.

In the first years during novitiate, Sr. M. Ludhelma worked at Steins Garden and then in Marienborn, where she was responsible for the housekeeping for the sisters’ filiation. During this time, Sr. M. Ludhelma decided to dedicate her life to the missions. It was in God’s wise providence that the United States, the exile land of our founder, and specifically the state of Texas, would be her destination. She also had a younger sister, our now deceased Sr. M. Adelita, who became a missionary to one of our Provinces in Brazil.

At the service of others

Our six pioneer sisters in Texas

As part of one of the first groups of Schoenstatt Sisters to settle in South Texas, Sr. M. Ludhelma came in November 1949 to Corpus Christi. Here she worked in the Corpus Christi Cathedral Rectory at the service of the newly appointed Bishop Garriga and the priests. One year earlier, during his visit to the United States in 1948, Father Kentenich had come to see the previous Bishop Ledvina in Corpus Christi in response to his wish for Schoenstatt Sisters for his diocese. Besides her work in the bishop’s rectory, Sr. M. Ludhelma soon began her studies at the Incarnate Word College in San Antonio. She studied there every year during summer vacation until she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in education.

Some years later, a new Catholic school was to be established in Rockport, Texas. The pastor of Sacred Heart Parish was in need of sisters to run the new school, and he made a pilgrimage to St. Anne’s Shrine in Quebec, Canada, for this intention. Sr. M. Ludhelma was transferred to Rockport, where she became the principal of the new Sacred Heart school and the superior of the filiation there.

Sr. M. Ludhelma had a very fine disposition and personality. She was open for the families and their children and lovingly attended their needs. At the same time, Sr. M. Ludhelma made the house community a true home for the sisters in her reverent, motherly way. She also helped the younger sisters coming from Germany to get acquainted with the new country and its customs.

In 1958, after many prayers and much searching, our region in Texas decided on the land for a future Schoenstatt Shrine and Center. Lamar, a small town about five miles out of Rockport on the tip of a peninsula would become the home of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt, and the home of the sisters. Almost every weekend, Sr. M. Ludhelma saw to it that the filiation sisters could visit Lamar. The longing for a shrine was deep in the hearts of the sisters. Many prayers were offered for this, and the contributions to the capital of grace were buried where the shrine was to be built. Sr. M. Ludhelma had great mission zeal and the words of our founder inspired everything: “Build the Blessed Mother a shrine, and she will build you the house.” J.K.

In the years from 1965 to 1971, Sr. M. Ludhelma was the principal of St. Lawrence Catholic School in San Antonio, where she was liked very much by families and children. She was also involved with the direct Schoenstatt apostolate with couples’ groups, preparing them for the covenant of love and the home shrine. During the years 1971 to 1987, she worked in Refugio and Corpus Christi as a parish helper and CCD teacher. It was easy for her to work well with the parish priests and she was much appreciated by them. From 1987 on, Sr. M. Ludhelma lived at the province house in Lamar. During these years, she took care of the sacristy, garden, and cemetery, tasks she enjoyed very much. For about two years in between, she was responsible for the daycare we had at our center in Lamar. She worked just as well with the little children as with the older ones. The families were very grateful for this wonderful service.

When Sr. M. Ludhelma’s health eventually declined and she needed extensive care, which we could not offer her in the province house, she was transferred to a nursing home in Rockport, where she lived from 2013-2017. Due to the mandatory evacuations prior to Hurricane Harvey, she was taken to a nursing home in Austin and then to the John Paul II nursing home in Kenedy, Texas, run by a community of Polish sisters, where she completed her life.

We are very grateful for the gift she was to many. Her memory will always remain!

May she rest in peace!

Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary

Lead from the Shrine…

The Pilgrim Home Shrine is the late Gene Raulie’s home shrine in Austin-Cedar Park. Gene is remembered as the Schoenstatt pioneer in Austin. Together with his wife Marion, he was loyal to the Schoenstatt Movement all his life following a daily prayer schedule inspired by Father J. Kentenich whom he honored with all his heart.

For many years, Gene worked tirelessly to make Schoenstatt known in Austin by establishing several wayside shrines, bus trips to Lamar, and in 1976 he attended the first Men’s retreat there. Since then, he never missed the Men’s retreat which is held annually in early December.  He made his Covenant of Love in 1980 and his Blank Check in 1997. In 1988, he became one of the first Rosary Campaign coordinators and brought the first traveling shrine to Austin. Gene received one of the first 3 Pilgrim Shrines that were made in Corpus Christi by Joe Rodriguez.  Laredo and Corpus Christi received the other ones. He led several Rosary groups, provided numerous people with MTA pictures, held monthly 18th devotions at the wayside shrine at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Cedar Park, was a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus, and organized the prison ministry taking the MTA to the local prison every month.

                   Gene’s home shrine was erected and blessed in 1983 and for many years, it became the place of prayer and devotion for him and his dear wife Marion. Eventually, the home shrine was moved to. one of the spare bedrooms after their 6 children, 5 boys, and 1 girl had grown up and left the home.  His son David made the huge frame where the MTA picture resides and it served many people and friends as a place of grace and peace.  Gene’s home shrine always radiated its mission ” Pilgrim Home Shrine” as it was often filled with prayer groups, friends, fresh flowers, and pictures of loved ones. Holy Family Catholic School in Cedar Park, TX received an MTA picture for each classroom so that the young students could look at the Blessed Mother during their daily prayers. Holy Family also enjoys a wayside shrine on their school premises that was dedicated by the late Father Jonathan Niehaus.  Gene was a true servant of Mary and never stopped bringing Christ into the life of other people.  He passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on May 28, 2021, at his home surrounded by friends and family close to his beloved home shrine.




Lead from the Shrine…

Bethlehem – A New Beginning

                 We sealed our Covenant of Love on August 17, 1997. We did this on a pilgrim’s day in Lamar, as our daughter Alaina was due to be born very close to the family retreat date. Later we sealed our Covenant with the Family Branch. 

                Our Home Shrine Dedication was held on February 11, 1998. We had a beautiful Holy Mass and Ceremony with Father Langsch. 

                While we were preparing, we read the book My Home A Shrine. There was no question about what name we would give our shrine: Bethlehem – A New Beginning. Our family especially enjoyed the Advent and Christmas Seasons and we were inspired by the words in the book about the name Bethlehem. “We are reminded of the birthplace of Jesus. In this Bethlehem Home Shrine, the Blessed Mother will offer us special graces to begin each day anew with joy and ardent zeal. We have a great task to fulfill; We are called to let Christ be reborn in us each day, to adore and serve Him, and to bring Him into the world around us.”

                We each chose a symbol to strive for in the shrine. The Foundation, the Crown, Saint Michael, the Sword of Saint Paul, and a pink rosebud which later became the Key to the Shrine.

                Throughout the years of family life, many offerings were made to the Blessed Mother and many graces were received. Gifts, flowers, report cards, diplomas, Cum Laude BA Degree, acceptance letters for ballet schools & company contracts, acceptance into elite hockey teams, achievements of the rank of Eagle Scout, and many more were always offered first to the Blessed Mother. The ups and downs of being small business owners and family life were also offered and accepted. Many graces were received. The Blessed Mother is never outdone in generosity.

                In conclusion, let us pray the 3:00 AM Office from Heavenwards:

“Your Shrine is our Bethlehem, pleasing to God through its sunrise.
There you gave virginal birth to the Lord who chose you as his bride and mother.
In your miraculous fruitfulness, you brought forth the Sun of Righteousness.

You have graciously established Schoenstatt so that our times can see the eternal light.
From there you want to go through our dark world as the Christbearer sent by God.

Jubilantly place the Lord into my soul anew, so that like you, I may perfectly resemble Him.
Let me be a Christbearer for our times, that they may shine in the brightest radiance of the sun.

Glory be joyfully given to the Father through Christ with Mary, highly praised,
in the Holy Spirit full of splendor from the universe now and in all eternity. 

Amen.”

Blake and Loretta Eaton, Trophy Club, TX, Apostolic Family Federation




Lead from the Shrine…

On the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1983, we welcomed the Blessed Mother of Schoenstatt to be the Queen, Guide, and Protector of our home and our family. Initially, the name of our homeshrine was Queen of Peace which we changed later into Queen of Divine Grace.

Our children ranged in age from 1 to 13 and we needed guidance to raise our children since both our parents lived far away. The only guide we had was our pediatrician who was Catholic.

As years moved on, we were invited to learn about Federation and we met with other couples for several years. It was a time of learning more deeply about Schoenstatt. We made our final consecration in our Federation Course in 2002. 

During this time, we became more involved in our parish. Our pastor asked us to help him with marriage preparation.

Our home shrine has been the center of all our family celebrations, one of which was the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of our marriage in 2019.

We continue on our path through life trusting in Jesus our Savior, God our Father, and our life companion, and our Mother Thrice Admirable. 

We depend on the Holy Spirit as we lead our family and those entrusted to us onward to the Kingdom promised to us. 

                                                         Nos Cum Prole Pia …


Maria and Joe Rodriguez, Corpus Christi, TX, Apostolic Family Federation



Lead from the Shrine…

Hello, we are Gina and Ricardo (Ric) Vega and we live in Austin. We became involved with Schoenstatt in 2014 after meeting Fr. Hector at our St. Paul Parish. He informed us he was a Schoenstatt Father.  I told him that as a young professional woman I had been involved with the movement with Sr. Bridget and Sr. Christa Marie. He invited us to the dedication of the Shrine which we attended with great anticipation of what the Blessed Mother was asking of us.  After being caregivers for Ric’s dad in Corpus Christi and my mother here in Austin, Ric and I lost both of them during the same week in 2012. Both of us started to quietly discern where God needed us next.

For several years, we made pilgrimages to churches in and out of the country. In August 2016, we were invited to attend a Schoenstatt “Forta,”, a couples retreat in Lamar. We were so excited and we felt that the Blessed Mother was calling us. The retreat was intense and very personal. Was this what we were looking for? Yes, it was just what we needed. Since we had no children because we married late in life, we felt somewhat lost. We had never before lived alone in our home as a couple… Remember, we were caregivers before and after getting married. The retreat opened up places in our souls and hearts that we had not felt before as a couple. It was intimate, yet welcoming and fun. We met many wonderful couples of varying ages who gave heartfelt testimonies. We instantly felt the love that only a Mother could give. Our Schoenstatt life would not be what it is today if the couple sitting in front of us, David and Pita Sanchez, had not opened their hearts to us. We knew at this moment that all of this was our Blessed Mother enveloping us and rewarding our caregiving days with this supernatural retreat! What a gift!

At this juncture, we knew we wanted to learn more about the movement and share this love that was shown to us. One way to do that was by becoming shrine guardians. Being guardians gave us opportunities to be involved with various activities. Soon after, we also started to attend the Couples Time Out, monthly day retreats dedicated to marriages.

By early 2017, we had already embraced our encounter with our Blessed Mother and we knew we were in the movement forever. We started our Couples Group in February at our St. Paul Parish. In June, we were both commissioned as MTA missionaries and shared our MTA with our families and with patients during visits to the nursing homes. By September, we knew we were ready to offer ourselves completely to our Blessed Mother through the Covenant of Love. The Sanchez’ graciously accepted our request for help to learn about it.

A year later, in June 2018, the Sanchez’ led a pilgrimage to Waukesha, Wisconsin where we were even more immersed in the movement. The pilgrimage encompassed visiting the Shrines and learning about Fr. Kentenich. We met a diverse group of people who were on the same journey and whom we now call friends. The greatest experience was when we formally told our Blessed Mother in the Exile Shrine how thankful we were for bringing us into the movement and that we would gladly be her instruments.

In 2019, our next goal was to learn even more about the home shrine. We had heard the Fenelon’s story during the pilgrimage to Waukesha and now we were ready to have our home shrine. Again, the Sanchez’ spent time educating us about it and we began discerning the title for our Blessed Mother. Over time, we put our home shrine together and we waited to decide her title. We were already praying there and just needed a title and to have it blessed. With the arrival of the COVID pandemic, we were unable to have it blessed in person. Fr. Cristobal scheduled the blessing via Zoom in May 2020. We decided to crown her “Queen Mother of Peace and Healing of the Family.” This title was important for us since we come from large families and the virus was very contagious and many people were dying. We wanted every family member to come to know our Blessed Mother and to find peace with what was happening. If they were contracted, we wanted them to ask our Blessed Mother for her intercession for healing. We crowned our Blessed Mother with a red crown. We continue to pray for the end of the pandemic and for the healing of everyone who contracted the virus, not only our family. 

Our home shrine continues to be our place of prayer where we find peace, love, and healing for ourselves and our loved ones. Many prayers have been answered through our commitment to our Blessed Mother. We continue to be grateful for our encounter with our Blessed Mother, for her love for us as individuals and as a couple. We pray for peace, healing, and the conversion of the hearts of families who do not know our Blessed Mother. The Blessed Mother is Victorious! She is a Miracle Worker! We remain devoted and faithful to our Covenant of Love!

Gina and Ric Vega, Schoenstatt Family League, Austin, TX

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Hola, somos Gina y Ricardo (Ric) Vega y vivimos en Austin.  En 2014, nos involucramos con Schoenstatt después de conocer al P. Héctor en nuestra Parroquia de St. Paul. Nos dijo que era un padre de Schoenstatt. Le dije que como joven profesional estuve involucrada en el movimiento con la Hna. Bridget y la Hna. Christa Marie. Nos invitó a la dedicación del Santuario a la que asistimos con mucha anticipación de lo que la Santísima Madre nos estaba pidiendo.  Después de ser los cuidadores del padre de Ric en Corpus Christi y de mi madre aquí en Austin, Ric y yo perdimos a ambos durante la misma semana. Ambos comenzamos a discernir en silencio dónde nos necesitaba Dios a continuación.

Durante varios años, realizamos peregrinaciones a iglesias dentro y fuera del país. En agosto de 2016, nos invitaron a asistir a un “Forta” de Schoenstatt, un retiro de parejas en Lamar. Estábamos muy emocionados y sentimos que era la Santísima Madre  quien nos llamaba. El retiro fue intenso y muy personal. ¿Era esto lo que estábamos buscando? Sí, era justo lo que necesitábamos. Como no teníamos hijos debido a nuestro matrimonio tardío, nos habíamos sentido algo perdidos. Nunca antes habíamos vivido solos en pareja en nuestra casa. Recuerde, fuimos cuidadores de nuestros padres antes y después de casarnos. El retiro abrió lugares en nuestras almas y corazones que no habíamos sentido antes como pareja. Fue íntimo, pero acogedor y divertido. Conocimos a muchas parejas maravillosas de diferentes edades que dieron testimonios sinceros. Instantáneamente, sentimos el amor que sólo una Madre puede dar. Nuestra vida en Schoenstatt no sería lo que es hoy si la pareja sentada frente a nosotros, David y Pita Sánchez, no nos hubieran abierto su corazón. ¡Sabíamos en este momento que todo esto era nuestra Santísima Madre envolviéndonos y recompensando nuestros días de cuidado a nuestros padres con este retiro sobrenatural! ¡Qué regalo!

En este momento, sabíamos que queríamos aprender más sobre el movimiento y compartir este amor que se nos mostró a nosotros. Una forma de hacerlo era en ser guardianes del santuario. Ser guardianes nos dio la oportunidad de involucrarnos en varias actividades del movimiento. Poco después, también empezamos a asistir a los Couples Time Out, retiros mensuales de un día dedicados a los matrimonios.

A principios de 2017, ya habíamos logrado nuestro encuentro con nuestra Santísima Madre y sabíamos que estábamos en el movimiento para siempre. Comenzamos nuestro Grupo de Parejas en febrero en nuestra Parroquia de St. Paul. En junio, ambos fuimos comisionados como misioneros de la MTA y compartimos nuestra MTA con nuestras familias y con pacientes en hogares de ancianos. En septiembre sabíamos que estábamos listos para ofrecernos completamente a nuestra Santísima Madre a través de la Alianza de Amor. Los Sánchez aceptaron con gratitud nuestra solicitud de aprendizaje.

Un año después, en junio de 2018, los Sánchez dirigieron una peregrinación a Waukesha, Wisconsin, donde estuvimos aún más inmersos en el movimiento. La peregrinación abarcó visitar los Santuarios y conocer al P. Kentenich. Conocimos a un grupo diverso de personas que estaban en el mismo camino y a quienes ahora llamamos amigos. La mejor experiencia fue cuando le dijimos formalmente a nuestra Santísima Madre en el Santuario del Exilio lo agradecidos que estábamos por invitarnos al movimiento y con mucho gusto seríamos sus instrumentos.

Nuestro próximo objetivo en 2019 era aprender aún más sobre el Santuario del Hogar. Habíamos escuchado la historia de los Fenelon durante la peregrinación a Waukesha y ahora estábamos listos para tener nuestro propio Santuario Hogar. Una vez más, los Sánchez dedicaron tiempo a educarnos sobre lo que era y empezamos a discernir el título de nuestra Santísima Madre. Con el tiempo, armamos nuestro Santuario Hogar y esperamos para decidir su título. Ya estábamos orando allí y solo faltaba un título y que lo bendijeran. Con la llegada de la pandemia del COVID no se pudo bendecir en persona. El Padre Cristóbal programó la bendición vía Zoom en mayo de 2020. Decidimos coronarla “Reina Madre de la Paz y Sanación de la Familia”. Este título era importante para nosotros ya que venimos de familias grandes y el virus era muy contagioso y mucha gente estaba falleciendo. Queríamos que todos los miembros de la familia llegaran a conocer a nuestra Santísima Madre y encontraran la paz con lo que estaba sucediendo. Y si se contraían, queríamos que le pidieran a nuestra Santísima Madre su intercesión para la sanación. Coronamos a nuestra Santísima Madre con una corona roja. Seguimos orando por el fin de la pandemia y la sanación de todos los que han contraído el virus, no solo de nuestra familia. Nuestro Santuario Hogar sigue siendo nuestro lugar de oración donde podemos encontrar paz, amor y sanación para nosotros y nuestros seres queridos.

Muchas oraciones han sido respondidas a través de nuestro compromiso con nuestra Santísima Madre y seguimos agradecidos por su amor por nosotros como individuos y como pareja. ¡La Santísima Madre es victoriosa! ¡Ella obrará milagros!  ¡Seguimos devotos y fieles a nuestra Alianza de Amor!

“… Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

Lead from the Shrine…

“… Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

It was during one of our deserts, i.e., a day of prayer, at Lamar, that I came upon this passage.  This was a great moment of DIVINE GRACE.  I was touched very deeply by it.  I prayed and asked God, “Lord help me to carry my cross with patience and love.” After meditating for a while, I walked slowly to the shrine, went inside and then, it hit me.  As I looked at our Mother Thrice Admirable, I knew that SHE was my answer. I was overwhelmed with tears of JOY. 

A few months later, Carlos and I, joined Jose and Maria Rodriguez, and several other couples for some special talks about Schoenstatt. Soon after, we made our Covenant of Love at a couples retreat in the spring of 2005.   As our love for our Mother Thrice Admirable grew, we talked with Sr M Daniela Rensing, about preparing us for our home shrine.  Our home shrine was dedicated on September 4, 2011, as Mother of Faith, Hope and Love.   During the beginning years of the recent pandemic, we crowned her as, “Queen and Refuge of our Family.” 

We are on pilgrimage here on earth and are very blessed to know that we have a mother in heaven who is always there for us, to guide and to teach us the way to holiness.

We are Carlos and Ana Rosa Everett originally from Corpus Christi, and now more recently living in San Antonio, Texas.  We have been blessed with 2 sons, Carlos Jr. and his wife, Amanda; Christopher Javier and his wife, Ashley; and our daughter Celeste Marie and her husband, Edison.  We have been blessed with 6 grandchildren—5 living and one deceased. 

Ana Rosa and Carlos Everett, San Antonio, TX

Apostolic Family Federation, USA

Lead from the Shrine…

Our home shrine was established on June 16,1990, when my brother, Ruben Montez, Jr. and his lovely wife, Christel Montez, presented it to us at our wedding. Since then, our MTA has been the focal point of our home.

Before moving into our apartment and three homes thereafter, our home shrine was moved in first. Throughout the liturgical season, our home shrine has been adorned with sacramentals and special items that remind us of the particular season. During challenging times, our homeshrine was the place we shared our inner most thoughts and petitions. It serves as the place of honor and comfort when we leave and greets us upon entering our home.  During joyous occasions, our family has always placed good news or important information such as our daughter’s study notes, medical reports that showed we were in good health, resumes for jobs for which we were hired, school certificates, awards, etc. 

At times, one could see wedding/graduation or funeral announcements for friends or loved ones and tokens of gratitude on our home shrine. We have fond memories of our daughters’ missing toys that were found and in thanksgiving, were placed on our home shrine before playing with them.  All of our innermost thoughts, challenging events and concerns have been offered to our dear Blessed Mother for the past 31 years. She remains the haven we seek during our high, lows and everything in between that life seems to present to us on a daily basis.

Growing up, my parents, Ruben & Rosa Montes, made it a point to always honor their/our home shrine with fresh flowers…a tradition we still honor in the Hernandez home shrine. Through our daily act of consecration, the Blessed Mother has always taken perfect care!

Belinda and Mike Hernandez, Reno, AZ