The philosophy behind the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign is simple: welcome Christ into your everyday life, by welcoming the image of his mother into your home.
It is a tradition spurred by the 35-year ministry of Deacon John Pozzobon, who, beginning in 1950, walked more than 87,000 miles carrying a picture of the Blessed Mother to homes, schools, jails and hospitals throughout southern Brazil.
A devotee of the Schoenstatt movement founded in Germany decades before, Deacon Pozzobon believed in the importance of incorporating prayer into daily life. Wherever he brought the image of the Blessed Mother, he encouraged groups of people to gather around it to say a rosary, imploring the intercession of the veiled woman in the picture and the blessing of the divine child she held in her arms.
Deacon Pozzobon was struck and killed by a car on his way to Mass one morning in 1985, but his devotion to the image – popularly known as the “Mother Thrice Admirable” – caught on internationally, and today more than 14 million faithful in 110 nations mimic the actions of Deacon Pozzobon, participating in the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign worldwide.
If you want
The workshop on the Pilgrim Mother Thrice Admirable (MTA) image will be held Saturday, April 18, at the Schoenstatt Center, W284 N698 Cherry Lane, Waukesha, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Fr. Kentenich Hall. For information, call (262) 522-4300 or visit www.schoenstatt
“We are an international apostolate of bringing the image of Mary from home to home,” explained Sr. Isabel Bracero, national director of the MTA Rosary Campaign, the apostolate’s American branch, headquartered at the national Schoenstatt Center in Waukesha.
The campaign encourages devotion to the image of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victoress of Schoenstatt – now usually referred to as “the Pilgrim MTA” because it is constantly being passed from person to person, home to home. Sr. Isabel estimates there are around 300 such images in circulation in Wisconsin, after the campaign was introduced to the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in Madison in 1986.
On April 18, Sr. Isabel and the Schoenstatt School of Missionaries of the MTA will host a workshop to educate and inform the public about the tradition of the Pilgrim MTA. The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fr. Kentenich Hall inside the Schoenstatt Center in Waukesha, and is geared toward former participants in the campaign as well as new ones.
“It is a kind of calling back the people who have taken the image in the past, to kind of retrain and get back into the loop, and an open invitation for those who would like to help out with an apostolate of this nature,” she said.
Painted in 1898 by Luigi Crosio, the image now popularized as the Pilgrim MTA was originally known the Refugium Peccatorum Madonna (the “refuge of sinners Madonna.”)When Pallottine Father Joseph Kentenich began the Marian-centered Schoenstatt movement in the German village of the same name in 1914, he displayed the image of the Refugium Peccatorum Madonna in the chapel that would become the original Schoenstatt shrine.
Sr. Isabel describes the Pilgrim MTA – often passed to schools, parishes, jails and nursing homes – as an invaluable tool for the evangelization of Marian devotion, calling it “an answer to the words of the Holy Father, to go out and to meet the people, to reach out to those who are homebound and perhaps cannot come to the church, or those who have fallen away or have strayed.
“Here is an opportunity for the normal Catholic, your normal Sunday Catholic people, to go a step further and help others to come back into the fold,” said Sr. Isabel.
The campaign relies upon one person, called a “missionary,” to take charge of the image, gathering a group of eight to 10 individuals or families (sometimes more) who commit to hosting the Pilgrim MTA for a certain period of time before passing it along to its next destination. While the image resides in their home, the family is encouraged to say the rosary and other special prayers that accompany it. The image then circulates back throughout the group once everyone has had a turn.
The graces of the Marian shrine at Schoenstatt in western Germany accompany the image of the Pilgrim MTA, said Sr. Isabel. Hosting families often experience “the graces of being at home in the heart of God, of the child taken in by God’s fatherly goodness and the Blessed Mother’s goodness as a mother,” she said.
Two Pilgrim MTA missionaries in the Milwaukee area, Isabelle Lutzke and Helen Liccione, have been involved in the campaign since the late 1980s. In an email, Lutzke and Liccione said that they pray the rosary before the image daily when it is in their homes, sometimes alone and sometimes with other family members. Both noted the power and grace the image brings into their lives.
“Many of those who belonged to the rosary campaign have attested to wonderful answers to prayer, more family interest in the rosary and closeness to the Blessed Mother, plus knowing that the graces from the Schoenstatt shrine could be received in their own home,” they wrote. “In the turbulent times in which we live, there are many problems -personal, national and international that require spiritual help and guidance. We turn to the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign so that our many prayers will be answered as we recognize the power of the rosary and the graces of the Pilgrim Mother.”