“Let’s get rid of the pessimism once and for all. Such an attitude is not helpful in the face of the needs of today and our changing times. We have to build an oasis and everyone is called to help us succeed!” (Father Joseph Kentenich, Founder of Schoenstatt)
Working with young people and supporting them in their journey through life is at the heart of Schoenstatt. The Movement was founded in October, 1914 by Father Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968) and a group of young people from a boarding college of the Pallottine Fathers near Vallendar, in Germany. They entrusted themselves to Mary, the Mother of God in a time of great confusion and upheaval: The tragic outbreak of the First World War and the internal difficulties with the running of the college, which had led to serious problems of discipline amongst the students. From these beginnings Schoenstatt as an international Movement of renewal grew.
The purpose of our Youth Work is to support all young people from all age groups to educate themselves into free and mature personalities. This original perspective of “self-education” respects the freedom and the original abilities and talents of each individual person. Schoenstatt helps young people to become aware of their own original character and potential as a means of a greater self-confidence in their lives. It is a means to adopt a personal set of values and ideals, which enable young people to make their original contribution to the world around them. Schoenstatt encourages young people to be individuals, to believe in a personal mission, but also to be an active and positive part of the community in which they live at the same time.
How do we work?
Local youth groups
Schoenstatt supports the setting up of local youth groups for girls and for boys that meet regularly, either at the Schoenstatt Centre or in different Parishes. These groups are led by an older youth and supervised and supported by parents and a Youth Chaplain. Every group develops their own life and activities and would plan common events or trips with other groups throughout the year.
Retreat days or evenings
Schoenstatt also organises retreat days or evenings for young people. These are usually “tailor-made” according to the particular wishes of the group or according to various themes. Often the Retreats can include a residential element. The young people are encouraged to prepare and lead the retreat themselves with the support of the co-ordinators and the Chaplain.
Winter weekends and camps
Highlights of the year are, without doubt, the winter weekends and the summer camps. The young people make a complete experience of life in the community with each other: involving – teamwork, generosity, fun, giving and taking, getting to know themselves and also getting to know better the people around them. This all-round approach is our spirituality. The summer camps have often been held abroad in the original Schoenstatt in the Rhine Valley in Germany, in Ireland etc…
Group leader training schemes
Other vital activities of our Schoenstatt work are group leader training schemes. They involve practical support and experience with youth groups and the preparation for group meetings. Youth leading youth.
Schoenstatt Youth groups adopt concrete projects in their local community and in areas of need: e.g. Visiting a Nursing Home at Christmas, painting and renovating meeting rooms, or running a fund-raising events for charities etc….
Support and counselling
Schoenstatt also offers support and counselling in crucial areas of a young person’s life.
Our strength – spiritual and moral dimension
The driving force behind Schoenstatt’s youth work is the faith that God walks with us and guides us in our lives. He is active in our lives. Schoenstatt presents young people with ideals for their concrete style of life according to the path that God wants to trace out for them. Our work has a clear spiritual and moral dimension, which shows itself in youth liturgies, music, prayer and a personal consecration to Mary, the Mother of God in the Schoenstatt Shrine (called the “Covenant of Love”). The conviction is that through this Covenant with Mary, the regular contact with the Shrine, with each other and with the Youth Chaplain, young people receive the strength and inspiration they need for their process of self-education and the growth of inner freedom. Through the powerful atmosphere of faith and values, we experience that it is precisely this that makes our Youth Work successful, original and attractive to the youth of today.
Renewal today begins when small groups make a difference and become a sign of change for the better in themselves. “When only one person dreams, then it is just a dream. When many people all share the same dream, then this is the beginning of a new reality!” (Don Helder Camera)
“Under the protection of Mary, we want to educate ourselves to become firm, free and Christian personalities!”(Father Joseph Kentenich)