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Oregon and Ohio Ver Sacrum Missionaries

Claire Bias is happy to be embarking on her first Ver Sacrum Mission summer! Claire lives in the country near Wells, MN. Her family has been involved in Schoenstatt for a very long time and she has been attending summer camps all her life. Claire’s favorite memory of Schoenstatt is making her Blank Check Consecration at the Original Shrine in Germany in 2014. This coming fall, Claire will be a freshman at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Claire is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and hopes to one day achieve a Doctor of Musical Arts! When she’s not in school, Claire enjoys musical theater, cats, history, camping, and more cats. Claire is extremely excited to start this adventure and bring Schoenstatt to more people!

Olivia Lippert is a returning Ver Sacrum Missionary, and she is excited to be back at it! She hails from the tiny town of Easton, MN, and she became familiar with Schoenstatt when she was about 7 years old. Since then she has participated in numerous summer camps, retreats, and group meetings. Olivia has made her Marian Apostles, Room Shrine, Covenant of Love, and Blank Check dedications, and all of them were made with Claire. She will be starting her sophomore year at Bethany Lutheran College this fall in Mankato, MN, where she is studying Communication, Theater, and Spanish. Some of Olivia’s favorite hobbies include camping, fishing, gardening, baking, cooking, photography, reading, traveling, writing, and being creative!

Camp Dates 2016

July 11-16, 2016 Salem, OR
 July 19-21, 2016 Maria Stein, OH

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Dear Young Women,

Heartfelt covenant greetings on this June 18!

Right before Father’s day we look up to Heaven and thank God the Father for half a year of blessings which lies behind us. With much gratitude we recall the mercies we have received in our daily lives. How wonderful it would be if we could share with as many people as possible these very same mercies.

Perhaps, the summer break gives us an opportunity to look ahead, too. Would it not be possible that our covenant of love with the Blessed Mother becomes fruitful in our lives through our personal apostolate?

Besides that, is it possible that we step out of our own familiar environment and dare to reach out to those who may benefit from a moment of connecting to the Shrine and to the Blessed Mother, even to Fr. Kentenich and other noble young women? Would you dare to do something in this regard in your college, with your friends, or with some of your  co-workers?

May our MTA continue to guide all of you in the steps of Divine Providence that you may never lose sight of God’s mercies in your lives, and thus be able to share it with others. I am sure the Blessed Mother will show us the best way to reach out to those who need exactly what we have received in such abundance.

 

With prayers from our Shrine,

Sr. M. Isabel

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A Schoenstatt Adventure

To tell the truth, we were 95% excited and 5% nervous as our family drove into the parking lot of the Schoenstatt grounds. Nevertheless, as soon as we saw the beautiful ocean view on the grounds, the familiar Schoenstatt shrine with a Holy Door of Mercy, and a smiling sister who gave us directions, our nervousness subsided. Our family was warmly greeted by Sister Sandra, the sister directing the retreat, Sister Alejandra, who was assisting Sister Sandra, and the young adult volunteers. We were shown to our room, which we were to share with three other girls. We had the typical butterflies one has on their first overnight retreat, but the courtesy of the sisters and volunteers and the friendly manner of other girls who had been to several previous Schoenstatt retreats made us feel welcome.

There were so many wonderful and memorable things about the Schoenstatt Retreat; we hardly know where to begin! First of all, the Schoenstatt sisters were so kind. They were always smiling with a contagious joy as they conducted a retreat activity or served the food at mealtime. The food, by the way, was so delicious, and there was dessert for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day! Back to the subject, the Schoenstatt sisters emphasized the importance of the virtues, especially cleanliness. The girls were instructed to always keep their rooms tidy; furthermore, a cleaning fairy would leave a surprise gift for those with the cleanest room and neatest bed. We had never been so careful in making our bed before, but our effort was delightfully rewarded. The sisters also allowed the girls to practice service. After every meal, some girls were assigned for dish duty and helped the sisters wash the dishes and clean up. Do not worry; there were different girls assigned for dish duty after every meal, so nearly every girl had their turn. The sisters also had “lights out” at around ten o’clock or ten thirty each night, turning off all the lights and instructing the girls to go to sleep.

The entire Schoenstatt retreat was faith-centered. We had morning and evening prayer in the Schoenstatt shrine every day, and there were confessions for anyone who wished to go. The priest celebrated Sunday Mass in the Schoenstatt shrine for all the girls, and we had all practiced the songs we sung during Mass at the retreat. The retreat was also very well-planned. The Schoenstatt Spring Break Retreat was in March, but the volunteers had been preparing for it since January! The activities were all set up in advance around the Schoenstatt grounds and were well-coordinated. When we first arrived at the retreat, there were hand-made name tags that the young adult volunteers made for all the girls. They were especially helpful in learning everyone’s name, as there were about 45 girls at the Spring Break Retreat! Even the meal prayers were specially planned, each one sung to the tune of a popular song in addition to the regular grace said before meals. Needless to say, the Schoenstatt retreat was so much fun! The first night of the retreat, the sisters showed all the girls a movie, and the retreat activities were based on that movie. All the games we played were fun and involved all the girls, so no one felt excluded. All through the retreat, the games and activities encouraged us to build new friendships. After the retreat, everyone wanted to get the phone number or mailing address of a new friend to keep in touch. The Schoenstatt Spring Break Retreat was fun and faith-centered, but most importantly, it gave us the opportunity to do a work of mercy.

Near the end of the retreat, the Sisters presented all the girls with a surprise gift: a box of shampoos, conditioners, bath gels, lotions, and bar soaps for everyone to choose from. The hygienic items had been given to the Sisters, and the girls were allowed to take as many as they wanted. We remembered that about a month earlier, a lady who worked at shelters had come to talk at a day retreat we attended. She had talked about how there was so much need at the shelters for donations. She also mentioned that toiletry items were one of the things they needed most. Suddenly, from the retreat had blossomed an opportunity to perform a work of mercy. After we explained our idea to make toiletry packets to Sister Alejandra, she generously allowed us to take home the box of leftover hygienic items. Using the gifts from the Schoenstatt sisters, our family set out to make toiletry packets for the people at the shelters.

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All of our supplies

To assemble the toiletry packets, we put a shampoo, conditioner, and bar soap into a goodie bag, sealing it off with a silver tie. We were able to produce attractive, fancy-looking toiletry packets by matching hygienic items of the same brand, or different brands that complemented each other. Not only was it fun to turn such simple things into rewarding gifts, but it was also hopeful. It might seem silly to think that hope can lie in hygienic products, but it can. By giving people the means of keeping themselves clean, their self-dignity is restored; they feel better about themselves. Furthermore, people’s lives are touched. They know that they are not alone in their struggles, and that there are people out there who care about them. This can give them a brighter view of the future. Hope is something that must never be lost. It is our prayer that these toiletry packets will help strengthen or restore it.

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A finished bag ready to go

Moreover, it is especially fitting that we were able to perform this act of mercy during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. During this special year, Pope Francis has called the faithful to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We are so glad that we were given the opportunity to be merciful to others. The retreat was like the fertilizer: it was where we were given the materials. From there, out sprouted a sapling of mercy.

We are very thankful to the Schoenstatt Sisters for such a wonderful retreat. It was well-planned, faith-filled, and lots of fun! We are so glad we were able to attend. We would also like to say a special thank-you for the hygienic items; these allowed us to reach out to others through a work of mercy. We encourage any girls who have not been to a Schoenstatt retreat to go. It is a beautiful and memorable experience.  We truly benefited from the Spring Break Retreat and cannot wait until our next Schoenstatt adventure!

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Dear Young Women,

The month of May,  the month of Mary has begun! With great joy we turn to our Mother and Queen who has chosen us to live a life out of the Covenant of Love with her. In the Schoenstatt Shrine we recall the many moments we have come to the altar of love of our MTA with our requests of love, and with our offerings, our contributions to her Capital of Grace. Today, and every day of this month we offer our love to her anew.

Again and again we come, either physically or spiritually, to the Shrine, in order to place into her hands our proofs of love. The month of May is thus a time to live our Covenant of Love to the fullest extent, because it is a time in which we are called to show, to prove our love for Mary in a variety of ways: our deeds of faithfulness to our daily duties, our constancy in a deep life of prayer, or our striving to keep our hearts and our thoughts pure, are a few among many.

Perhaps this year we are called to add the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as part of our list of tiny contributions to the Capital of Grace, which we offer with great love.

All of us can offer these and many other May blossoms to the Mother of God. Let us not waste any opportunity.

Wishing you much strength and guidance as some of you face the the weeks and days of final exams and decisive projects,

I remember you in our Shrine,

Sr. M. Isabel

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Easter 2016

Dear Schoenstatt Young Women,

Heartfelt greetings from our Shrine, in the spirit of our year’s motto: Be Love. Live Truth. Reveal Mercy.

The light of Christ’s Resurrection has been lit at the end of a week that began with another blood-shed. The events we commemorated during the Holy Week and this recent event remind us that suffering and persecution are part of a Christian’s life. And, as we have reflected during these past days of retreat, we are convinced that Christ’s mercy is to be revealed in this barbarous world through us. But, we can only reveal Christ’s mercy in our lives, in our countenance, as long as we hold on to that face we have encountered, his goodness and nobility – the kind we have experienced, most of all, through the Covenant of Love with our Mother and Queen in her Shrine.

Mary, too, had to suffer with our Lord, and she too, triumphed over sorrow and violence through her complete trust in God’s goodness, “whose mercy is from age to age” (Lk 1; 50). Both, Jesus and Mary, show the power of life, of love and, of trust. Both show to us the power of God’s mercy. We only need to open our hearts to forgiveness, to nobility, and to the simple recognition of the everyone’s limitations. We only need to open wide the doors of our hearts to our Lord and let him come to life in us.

In our Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother, we actually take a very conscious step toward bringing Christ to life in our hearts and in our souls, toward letting his light shine through us. We only need to live out of it, trust in Mary, and like her remain very close to our Lord. In the words of Father Kentenich, the founder of Schoenstatt:

…if the consecration [to Mary] is looked upon in this expanse and depth, its meaning for individual and community, for peoples and nations is not just a far-reaching, well-deliberated, and conscious decision to strive for the highest of Christian perfection; it is also, because of its Marian character, a proven, a classical way of securing this striving and our salvation, and of bringing about a deep reform of individual and community, of nation and society. (…)

Our efforts in striving to be a little bit like Mary in our daily lives are indeed a very small contribution to such a greatly hostile world. And yet, should we not take the following prompting from Father Kentenich very much to heart during this season of Easter? A woman recalled a number of years after World War II:

Right after the war I traveled for the first time with acquaintances to Schoenstatt. There I got to know Schoenstatt in an introductory course. Father had just returned from Dachau.

One day I was waiting in the hallway of the Retreat House for one of my friends. Fr. Kentenich camp up to me and greeted me cordially. He asked me if I was in Schoenstatt for the first time, where I was from, and a few things about my parish. He said good-bye with the words, “And now… let there be Mary!” I was so impressed. No one had ever spoken to me that way. His words were an incentive for me to strive in my daily life for the high goal to “let there be Mary!”

Should we not also take this tip sincerely into our lives, into our hearts and daily living, so that we can reveal Christ’s mercy, so that we can reflect something of Mary’s love and goodness? Should we not make of our way of being our simplest apostolate? It can become our greatest, and at the same time our smallest, contribution to the salvation of our violent and yet God-needing world: to just simply “let there be Mary” in us, in a world that confines women to rules and prerogatives of a materialistic view, leaving very little room for spiritual growth.

In a few months we will have a great opportunity to discuss in greater depth in our BLOOM2016 conference, in Waukesha. We will start on Friday, June 24 and end on Sunday, June 26. If you have not registered, please make sure you do by using this link: http://sgyusa.com/register-for-bloom2016/

If you have any question, you can always contact Elizabeth Felsheim: elizabeth.felsheim@gmail.com

May this time of Easter be a time of deep renewal of your Covenant of Love! May it be a time to repeat the ‘yes’ you have said to representing Mary for others. In our Covenant of Love we have already heard those words from Father Kentenich. In our Covenant of Love with the MTA we have already set out to bring Christ’s light and life to our world. Let us just simply give way to Mary in our lives, and reveal Christ’s mercy!

May you have a blessed Easter!

Sr. M. Isabel

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February 18, 2016

Dear Young Women,

On this Covenant Day, we gather spiritually in the Shrine, be it in our Room Shrines, Heart Shrines – and maybe even at a Schoenstatt Shrine – to thank the Blessed Mother for her faithfulness and love in our lives. Our thanksgiving is offered to her laced with humility.

As we take this time of Lent to reflect on our own very unique way of accompanying our Lord on his way of the Cross, and thus preparing our hearts for the great celebration of Easter, we call to mind our Blank Check surrender. We call to mind the fact that the MTA has chosen us to belong to her, to bring her presence into the lives of all we meet, and to give all for her mission from the Shrine. It humbles us to see how little we are able to do in a world so much in need of Mary, Mother of Mercy – so much in need of the Shrine, too.

How can we, in the day to day, be more effective in living up to our Blank Check surrender? We all learned at one point how to make good use of our Spiritual Daily Order. Our faithfulness to this small part of our spiritual life is extremely decisive, not because of the resolutions we make and write down there. Rather, it turns out to be so decisive because of our faithfulness to it: reading it and marking it at night, calling particular points to mind in different moments throughout the day, and offering all to the Capital of Grace of our Mother and Queen, in her Shrine. This is what makes our work with the SDO so fruitful: our faithfulness to it.

Regardless of what resolutions you may have chosen to keep through your SDO this Lent, I encourage you to embrace them every single day of this holy season, with love, devotion, fervor, and conscious of your mission. We continue to offer every tiny thing for the many youth of our country who are in need of the graces from the Shrine. We just have to remain faithful to her, our Ver Sacrum Patris Queen, our Holy Founder Generation Queen.

Now I wish all of you a richly blessed time of Lent, filled with the presence of our MTA, as the Mother of Mercy, and take your intentions into my prayers when I visit the Shrine,

Sr. M. Isabel

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IMG_7615Before you plan your summer, I wanted to ask you to please consider the Ver Sacrum Mission camps. Something we started to offer last year, thanks to the generous young women who gave of their time, strength, and experience, so that other girls, in other states, could learn about Schoenstatt.
The following link will allow to watch a very nice video, so that you can see what the young ladies did last year.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKpqL3N4dDw.
You don’t have to commit for the whole summer, and you will receive a stipend for each week of camp.
Right now we are fine tuning the weeks of camp in the different places: Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Florida.
I take your intentions into my prayers in the Shrine, and ask the Blessed Mother to grant you a most blessed time of Lent,
Sr. M. Isabel
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Dear Schoenstatt Girls and Young Women,

When the Church invites us to focus on the paschal mysteries of our faith: on the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord, for the next 40 days (of Lent), she is also inviting us to go with our Lord into the desert of our hearts, and there, pray with Him and learn from Him, how to stand before temptations. And, the strength to stand before temptations comes from the Holy Spirit, but also as a fruit of our genuine striving to ennoble our hearts, to become independent from the influence of the world.

Mary, with whom we have made the Covenant of Love, is the great teacher of what Father Kentenich used to call: independent thinking – something very much needed to face all temptations.

Be Love. Live Truth. Reveal Mercy.
As a reflection for Ash Wednesday, I invite you to “think” about Love, about truth and about mercy, in a totally “independent” way, so to say, and discover in Mary, in our Lord, in your own life of the Covenant of Love the beauty of who you are called to be, according to your own Personal Ideal.

The following text from Father Kentenich may inspire you to stand before the lack of love, of truth, and of mercy in our world, and face it from the standpoint of your Schoenstatt consecration.

In contrast, think about how it was with our dear Blessed Mother. (…) In general one often hears it said that a woman does not need to think for herself… Why don’t we ask the Blessed Mother? We see her thinking, deliberating, and making a decision in s supremely personal way. We need only recall the Annunciation. The angel came, brought her the message – a glorious message. What shall you become! You shall become the Queen of heaven and earth!

Dear friends, who among us, especially… would not have fallen right into it? What glory, what an offer! Of course, my heart will be satisfied – we would have said yes at once! What did Mary do? No less than an angel came and spoke to her in God’s name. But she took time to form her own opinion! She listened to the message. And what was her heart’s reaction?

First, she thought it through. Good heavens, who of us still thinks in our day and age! Who of us, man or woman, still thinks things through, weighs a question in their own heart? She thought it through. If we want to develop into a personality and learn how to think personally again, then we must learn to think things through – including religious matters! (…)

The second thing we should do is educate ourselves to think clearly. In Mary’s case, she asked the angel, “How can this be possible?” Do you notice how seriously she deliberates? (…)

To continue: Later on, when she had to face difficulties that she did not understand.. truly, Sacred Scriptures says that she thought about all these things and pondered them in her heart… The heart must first process everything. You see, this is the education of the personality! She thought it through! And how she later professed it, gave witness to what she knew to be right! We only need to study the Magnificat, which is a single mighty proclamation of great religious truths! And, when Christ hung on the cross as a criminal, she stood at his side (P. J. Kentenich, 1962).

It is thus that Pope Francis reminds us this Lent how, “Mary has become a perfect image of the Church,” ready to evangelize, and in her maternal role and character, capable of carrying Christ on to others, through generosity, faithfulness, compassing and goodness, shown in every kind of relationship (Message of P. Francis, Lent 2016). Perhaps, we need more of this “independent” pondering during the coming weeks of Lent, in order to grasp the truths of our faith, to be love for those around us, to live truth amidst the confusions that surround us, and reveal mercy when we are plunged into misery through the refusal, the contradiction, or the harshness of others or even of ourselves.

Let us ask our Covenant Queen, to shelter us in her heart, and teach us that “independent thinking” that ennobles the heart, to know when exactly when to reach out to those who need to see us Be Love; Live Truth; Reveal Mercy.

Wishing you a most blessed time of Lent, sheltered in the merciful heart of our Mother and Queen,
Sr. M. Isabel