CRETE – The Schoenstatt Movement of Nebraska will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of its founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, with a Mass at noon followed by a potluck dinner Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Schoenstatt Shrine in Crete.
Kentenich was born in Germany in 1885, entered the Pallottine Society and was ordained a priest in 1910. He subsequently worked in their seminaries. On Oct. 18, 1914, Father Kentenich led the seminarians under his guidance to make a covenant of love with the Blessed Mother, pledging themselves to striving for simple holiness of their everyday lives, while asking Our Lady to make their small chapel a place of grace and pilgrimage. Today, there are more than 250 replica shrines around the world that form the spiritual centers for the ecclesial movement of Schoenstatt.
Father Kentenich became a spiritual force in the Catholic Church in Germany in the 1930s, so much so that he was interred in the concentration camp of Dachau for three years, in an attempt to silence him and restrict his influence. Instead he used the opportunity to expand the movement into an international organization and lead its members into deeper surrender to God. From 1952 to 1965 the founder lived in Milwaukee, while the Church examined his teachings and lay spirituality.
In all, Father Kentenich founded 25 spiritual organizations for different walks of life with varying levels of commitment. These included six secular institutes whose members live the evangelical counsels in the midst of the world for the sanctification of society from within.
Father Kentenich died in Schoenstatt, Germany, Sept. 15, 1968, following the celebration of Mass in the recently dedicated Church of the Blessed Trinity, a monument of gratitude for Our Lady’s protection during World War II. His cause for beatification was introduced in 1975.
Although he was abandoned by his own father, Kentenich received the charism of spiritual fatherhood for millions of people. It was his firm belief that devotion to the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt led people to deeper love for God the Father. The Schoenstatt spirituality is family centered with emphasis on everyday holiness, forming a covenant culture and God’s use of persons as instruments to build up a Marian Kingdom of the Father.
The Schoenstatt lay movement is active in the Diocese of Lincoln. Two Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary reside at the Cor Mariae Schoenstatt Center in Crete. The Marian Shrine, located at 340 State Highway 103, is open for prayer during daylight hours. A small gift shop for religious goods is also on site.
Sister M. Marcia Vinje of the Family Life Office will offer a family enrichment course, “Marian Families for the Future: Old Answers to New Questions,” at the John XXIII Diocesan Center on Monday evenings in October and November. Many of the Schoenstatt perspectives will be incorporated into these presentations. See the diocesan website for details and registration.