Marian group offers place for reflection, spiritual growth

Johnathan Silver By Johnathan Silver

Aug. 30, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.
Updated Aug. 30, 2014 at 10:38 p.m.

ROCKPORT - Sometimes, they need advice. Sometimes, they need encouragement. Sometimes, they just need a "God bless you."

Such are the encounters with people who Sister Mary Martha Rodriguez of the Schoenstatt Movement has on a daily basis.

Rodriguez is a follower of the Schoenstatt Movement, one in which subscribers look to Mary, the mother of Jesus and God in the Catholic faith, by entering a covenant of love with her as the way to live a faithful life. The movement began in Germany in 1914 under the Rev. Joseph Kentenich, who worked with youth to spread the message and shrines to Mary across the planet.

At Schoenstatt in Lamar, a community of Rockport, Rodriguez and other Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary work and live at the location to spread their faith and be a source of help for the people who visit Schoenstatt, a place that serves as a pilgrimage site, has a province house, is a destination for reflection and indulging in one's spirituality and hosts retreats regularly.

One of the most cherished aspects of a Schoenstatt site is its shrine to Mary, which is meant to give people confidence, Rodriguez said.

"We believe the Mother Thrice Admirable is present in a spiritual way," Rodriguez said. "We believe that the presence of Christ and the Mother is in there."

Mary, Rodriguez said, wants to give people three things:

The gift of the "grace of a home," meaning a home that one finds within himself or herself, or another,

The "grace of transformation"

The "grace of apostolic fruitfulness," meaning finding one's mission they ought to use their life to fulfill.

Ultimately, Rodriguez said, it's about finding a way of making a positive difference in life.

A nun since 1967 and at Schoenstatt in Lamar since 1989, Rodriguez said Schoenstatt means "my life."

Her life has entailed leading people toward comfort. She works at the center's gift shop, where she can find opportunities to light up someone's life.

"You feel very grateful, very joyful because you've helped someone find an answer to their problem or a relief to their suffering," she said.

That same sense of hope perhaps made the center what it is now.

Three sisters of the movement traveled from Africa, ultimately making it to Corpus Christi and Lamar in the late 1940s and began building from scratch what is now the Schoenstatt site in Lamar in the late 1950s.

Celebrating 100 years of the movement, the site today features detailed works of art, statues, memorial sites and pieces of the Marian Movement's history throughout as well as finely-produced structures in the shrine, gift shop, retreat center and provincial house.

People travel from all over to visit the more than 200 Schoenstatt shrines around the world. At Lamar, visitors also can participate in daily holy Masses at 10 a.m. Sundays and at 6:45 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Amparo Frasser, of Houston and Colombia, originally, visited the Schoenstatt at Lamar with a friend who introduced her to a Houston church group she now belongs to. The importance of Mary and the role she played and plays drew her to the site during the summer.

"I'm so happy to be part of this organization," she said.

Lety Compean, a volunteer in the gift shop at Schoenstatt, said she enjoys working there because she likes helping out the sisters and customers who come in because she likes to "help the people know a little more about the Mother.

"I like the contact with people," she added.

Whether you're looking for a religious or spiritual experience or would like to be part of men, women, youths or couples groups or just want to reflect, Schoenstatt Center Lamar has a vast view of the waters and overlooks much of Rockport.

It is near Goose Island State Park and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.



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