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Schoenstatt observes 36th anniversary

By Josh Moniz

October 22, 2012
Staff Writer , The Journal

SLEEPY EYE - Schoenstatt on the Lake drew more than 200 people from the region and across the Midwest to Sleepy Eye on Sunday for the 36th anniversary of the creation of its shrine to Mary.

The Schoenstatt movement is a Roman Catholic Marian Movement that was founded in Germany in 1914 by the Rev. Joseph Kentenich.

Schoenstatt means "beautiful place" after the small town in Germany where the movement was formed.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Josh Moniz
The Schoenstatt Catholic sisters held their annual celebration of the founding of their shrine to the Virgin Mary in Sleepy Eye on Sunday.

The movement puts a strong emphasis on the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, with a focus on forming a covenant of love with Mary to guide their lives. The organization also has special emphasis on its apostolic actions, such as missionary work, charity and education. It also stresses respecting the originality of each one of its members, groups or cultures that its churches inhabit.

Sister Jessica Swedzinski of the local Schoenstatt church said the denomination is very simple, with "no frills" or rituals outside of the covenant with Mary and those explicitly laid out in the Bible.

The denomination has a special emphasis on its shrines to the Virgin Mary. Each shire is a replica of the first one built in Germany around the time of the movement's organization. It carries an ornate image of Mary and is adorned with religious symbols like crucifixes. Followers of the movement also keep an image of the interior of the shrine on display in each of their houses.

The Sleepy Eye shrine is one of only 10 such shrines in the entire United States. The Sleepy Eye shrine and one in Wisconsin are the only ones for the entire Midwest. Worldwide, there are just over 200 shrines in 42 different countries. Each shrine is a place of pilgrimage for followers of the movement, drawing people to visit them from several states away.

The Sunday event at Schoenstatt on the Lake held a mass in the community center, with a service in front of the shrine. The site is used throughout the year to host meetings for the local movement followers and host religious retreats or summer camps.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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