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A student’s love for his master

How was the Servant of God John Luiz Pozzobon related to the Founder of the Schoenstatt Movement?

Sister M. Paula Taís Vogt- How was the Servant of God John Luiz Pozzobon related to the Founder of the Schoenstatt Movement? For John Pozzobon, Fr. Kentenich was not a distant person who simply led the International Schoenstatt Movement. The ‘Mr. Father Joseph’, as he used to write, was his father, a close father and truly present in his thoughts, words and actions.

The Little Student of Fr. Kentenich

John Luiz Pozzobon enrolled in the School of Mary, whose teacher and master was an apt and decisive instrument in the Schoenstatt Kingdom: Fr. Joseph Kentenich. As a genuine and authentic student, he remained faithful to the origin and to the teachings of his educator. He tried to mirror himself in the lives of the heroes, educated in the Sanctuary, in the School of Mary with the pedagogy of Schoenstatt.

” …. Since I understood, I was always connected to the original source, imagining those heroes and the Founder… So, I felt like a little student, a little student together with the Founder – Father Kentenich, and with those heroes”[1]

His love for the place of origin and for the Founder transported him to Schoenstatt: “Daily I put myself in the original place, as a student of Father Kentenich, alongside the other students, in order to live the spirituality that Father preached to his seminarians.[2] As a “little student”, John didn’t revolve around his own interests and ambitions, but placed himself as a little apprentice, under the guidance and education of our Father and Founder. Referring to Fr. Kentenich, he said: “It is the pure truth that everyone must believe: He is a holy instrument sent by Mary. Whatever he wants and whatever he demands is Mary’s will.”[3]

Germano Arendes (member of the brothers of Mary Schoenstatt Institute) got to know John Pozzobon pretty well, he testified: “For him, our Father and Founder was a man of God, a prophet. We know their first personal meetings were between 1947 and 1952, those were quick meetings that he had a chance to attend while our Father Founder was here in Santa Maria. Before one of those meetings, he mentioned that he had an appointment to pray the rosary with the families and Father Kentenich recommended him to be where he was supposed to be, with the people waiting for him.”

 

The bond between the “little student” and his educator Kentenich was strong, even when our Father and Founder was in the “exile” in Milwaukee/USA, John Pozzobon didn’t fail to send reports of his pastoral activities. He used to ask a Sister of Mary, Sis. M. Judite Lauer, to translate them to German. And an important detail, he always signed the letters kneeling, out of respect and esteem for Father Kentenich. This was witnessed by Sr M Judith years later.

The Little Cyrene

John Pozzobon never imagined a Campaign separated from Schoenstatt and from the Founder. So much he sought to live in unity with him, offering himself as Father Kentenich’s ‘little Cyrenean’:

(…) Mr. Father, I offered my life for the development of apostolate of the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt (and) if it is to please the Father in Heaven, I will do as the Cyrenean did, I will help to carry the weight entrusted to him.” (19.04.1952)

He did’t walk with our Father and Founder, but he walked with him through the path of the Covenant of Love with Mary. John was decided, fully convinced and was willing to do any sacrifice for the Founder.

“Mr. Father [Joseph Kentenich I wanted] help defend so your work would become even more known and loved, helping the Holy Church to develop an apostolate in the transformation of the souls.” (Santa Maria, 17.12.1968.) [4]

And what did he actually do as a ‘little Cyrenean’?

He committed himself to the Father and Founder. For example, in 1952 when John learned that Fr. Kentenich would come to Santa Maria, he offered a week of communion and Masses, prayers and sacrifices; in a word, everything that was possible to do, he delivered to the Capital of Graces. “Everything I do will be for your intentions, remembering everything you did for me and for everyone.” [5] He sustained two inguinal hernias, as an offering to the Capital of Grace, for Father Kentenich’s return from exile. He did not want to operate to offer for his Father and educator, until he had returned to Schoenstatt.

After the Founder’s death, he worked for his beatification. In addition to distributing novenas and even writing to Pope Paul VI asking for the beatification of Father Kentenich, he offered many contributions to the Capital of Grace for these intentions. Creatively, he looked for ways to offer his small and large sacrifices on behalf of his teacher and educator. For example, due to his physical difficulties (the tiredness of the legs and the increasing loss of vision), he needed support to walk. In October 1982, he found a tree branch that turned him into a staff. And wrote:

“Walking with the staff is an offering to the Blessed Mother and Queen for her faithful instrument, Fr. Kentenich and for his beatification.” [6]

John Pozzobon’s love for Father Kentenich took deep roots, which no wind, no storm could affect. But yes, he fortified it in his heart through the Pilgrim Mother Campaign. He was the faithful “little student” of Father Kentenich and, today he can be our teacher in the art of holiness in daily life and in the bond with the Founder.

 

References: 
[1] Uriburu, 140 Km com a Virgem, 25
[2] Uriburu, Herói Hoje, Não Amanhã, 162
[3] Uriburu, Herói Hoje, Não Amanhã, 50
[4] Arquivos da Causa de Beatificação – [ADJLP/629-004/ ITCA]
[5] Peregrino e Missionero de Maria, 93.
[6] Uriburu, 140 Km com a Virgem, 174

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