“Steal with the eyes”


At the “Marriage and Family” Covenant tent, this expression that Father Kentenich used to say comes true. Schoenstatt members from all over the world will be inspired in October by different projects for the family from around the world. Josef and Rosa Maria Wieland, responsible for the organization, tell us about some highlights of the tent.


Josef and Rosa Maria. You organize, together with other couples, the Covenant tent of “Marriage and Family.” What can pilgrims expect when they come in October and enter the Marian School?

Josef Wieland: Pilgrims can expect 3 things. There is an exhibition of more than 80 projects that we collected from around the world which are organized by families for families. We will also have workshops in which projects and initiatives will be presented individually. We will talk about experiences in different countries. They can also enjoy various podiums. The most important thing is the exchange and inspiration between each other. We can learn a lot from others. Those organizing a project from South America can learn from European projects and the leaders of a project from Czech Republic can learn from a German project. It is wonderful to discover the creativity and strength that the Covenant of Love gives – marriage is also a covenant of love – to the great field of marriage and family; and every project and initiative that comes from it.


For example, what can Europeans learn from South Americans?

Josef Wieland: We are fascinated with different kinds of projects in South America. Missionary projects for instance, like Family missions. Or projects for divorced and remarried couples. I dream about that being possible in Europe one day. We are also fascinated with social projects. Families that dedicate themselves entirely to other families and children. In this area there are many initiatives in South America. The social situation in Europe is clearly different than the one in South America, but here we also have social needs. We can learn from each other.

You spoke about projects for divorced and remarried couples. What are these projects about?

Rosa Maria Wieland: It’s a project in Paraguay. Chile also has one, but it’s different, and one is starting in Spain as well. It’s about family work with a special group. It goes like this: these people who, under the Church point of view, live in an irregular situation are also its members. The Church wants to welcome them. They are not outcasts. When we receive these people as such, we get further away from the discussion about the reception of the Blessed Sacrament – from the YES or NO to Holy Communion. It’s about receiving and accepting them and making a path together. The leaders use the teachings of the Church as a guide of course and in every case, the matter of the reception of the Blessed Sacrament would be discussed.  But they also discuss other things like spiritual Communion, which is allowed.

What else?

Josef Wieland: They get invited to different events, for example matrimonial talks. They receive counsel on how to make dialog within the new marriage work. They use the already proven Schoenstatt methods in family work. They prepare special Masses as well. The whole project comes from an initiative of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM). There are other projects in Paraguay that are just as fascinating. Some of them guide couples that live together to marriage. With all these projects, it must be clear: “in the Church there is a place for every one.” I think this is exactly what Pope Francis means when he calls us to go to the periphery. It’s not enough just to get every catholic.

Do you see a deficit in this subject in the German Church?

Josef Wieland: Yes, above all in practice. And we have to let go of this pointless discussion about the “Yes or No” to the Holy Communion. The strength of Latin Americans is that they meet each other through the heart. There are less intellectual positions between one another. I would be very happy if this project could reach Europe.

Rosa Maria Wieland: These projects try to meet with the reality of these couples. And it’s about developing a vision of how these couples can keep growing in this new life situation. A married couple goes through a loss in its life. Divorced and remarried couples also have a long way behind them. Here, the bitterness and pain play a significant role. These can create problems afterward. What is reconciliation at this level? In Europe, we haven’t reached this personal level in the discussion today.

You talked about 80 projects. How do you see this number, this growth?

Josef Wieland: We are thankful for this: for this great creativity, variety, diversity and abundance. And there are so many more projects. Many countries have submitted only a few projects. When we look at all the initiatives, we recognize that there are some that are very successful. There are success models that jump from one country to the other. One example is Misiones. Another one is the Families’ Academy which is present in 10 countries.

Which ones are the highlights for you?

Rosa Maria Wieland: One of them is the Home Shrine current in the family movement. Last year, there was a Congress and today there is this strong wish of creating a network of Home Shrines. In many countries, it is more and more popular to put the mission of the Home Shrine into words. There are very creative and attractive names. This is what we want to present. In the Family tent, there will be a Home Shrine with objects from Home Shrines that Father Kentenich consecrated in Milwaukee. There are going to be testimonies in the House of the families as well. What are our experiences? This is the second part of our program.

How is the encounter and exchange in the tent going to be?

Josef Wieland: This is very important. We are located in the gym of the Marian School. There will be a Coffee Corner plus another cafeteria in the school. The workshops contemplate more work, but always with the objective of exchanging and learning from one another. There are different ways to learn something. One way is through meditation, where a person discovers something from it. This is the noblest one. The second way to learn is through experience and mistakes. This can be painful, but it works. The third one is to copy what others have done without shame. This way is the smartest. We want to promote this kind of learning, to learn from one another, to copy and adapt. Father Kentenich always said: “Steal with your eyes.” With this, he always suggested to go to others and to see what one can learn from them.