“If we want to be able to stand firm in the looming dangers of the present times, then we have to strive to renew our families. Nothing else could ever be more important than this!” (Father Joseph Kentenich)
The Family is the most important part of the Schoenstatt Movement of renewal. We want to encourage families to build in their homes a civilisation of love and to give orientation and support in the various issues of married and family life today: Living the commitment of marriage, parenthood, passing on values, and ways to help love grow.
The Family Movement has the purpose of setting up a network of families and homes, where the longing to live and support Christian married and family life is paramount. Schoenstatt wants to invite families to grow in their love for each other: Love as a couple, love for their children and love for God. Schoenstatt believes that a happy and faithful marriage and family life can work, and work well!
The support for families begins with every couple’s “yes” to each other. This is an expression of their life-long commitment to their marriage and to the “third person” in their marriage: Jesus Christ. He is the centre and the inner strength of Christian marriage and family life.
A guiding image for family life is the picture of an oasis. The home can be a place filled with many memories of love, where a second “yes” takes place: The “yes” to children and to their originality and future. Parents are supported through Schoenstatt in developing the faith-education of their children, so that they can become free and spiritual people. This is achieved not only by discussion and sharing, but also through atmosphere, prayer and good example.
Schoenstatt Families want to feel that the Lord and His Mother are very close to their daily family life and experience. The expression of this is called the “Home Shrine”. It is a special place in the home given to God, and a focal point for family prayer. Here families bring their successes and failures, the easy and the difficult days. The Home Shrine is a reminder that the Lord is always present and active in family life.
How does the Schoenstatt Family Movement work?
Schoenstatt wants to support all families. Also those who are particularly vulnerable: Families going through conflicts and single parent families. This is achieved through different ways. Here are some examples: Schoenstatt organises through the families themselves various Programmes for Weekends, Retreats and Outings. All these Programmes involve the children, who usually opt for a parallel Programme of their own. The highlight of every year is the so-called “Family Week” which involves the development of Family Spirituality in a leisurely and holiday atmosphere. Family Weeks have taken place in different parts of the country and also abroad.
Schoenstatt Families also can organize themselves into local groups, where they meet regularly in each other’s homes. These groups combine different elements: Prayer, spiritual input, discussion, support and simply socializing. The different groups come together for various activities throughout the year: Family Days, Seminars, Excursions, Christmas Parties, etc… In this way a genuine network of families and their homes can grow.
Schoenstatt also offers resources and support material for the family groups. These encompass crucial issues for marriage and family life as they arise today: Marriage preparation resources and booklets, Talks on Parenthood and child education, support for issues as the influence of the media in the home, money questions, and a Love Education Programme for Schools preparing young people for adolescence. Schoenstatt concentrates a great deal of effort in the area of communication between couples and in the family as a whole, because the development of communication skills forms a solid foundation for success in marriage and family life.
The Family itself is encouraged to be pro-active in the field where they themselves are the experts. In this way the home can truly be a place of evangelisation and also couples can be of great support to other families through visiting families in their homes and offering support and counselling. Families make the experience that they can do something concrete and make a real contribution: How they can live as a Family today? How they can help others to be a Family?
Schoenstatt has also developed over the years a monthly magazine “MTA” to keep dialogue alive and to facilitate information. This is a faith-building magazine from Schoenstatt, written and produced by the different groups themselves. It enjoys widespread popularity as it focuses on the real experiences and personal testimonies of how family life today – with all the ups and downs and also with all the comfort and joy that it brings – can be successful.
“Everything that you do in supporting families, will have an influence on others and on society. The future of the world and the Church depends on the Family.” (Pope John Paul II)