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May 7, 2017

Stations of the Cross blessed at Schoenstatt Wayside Shrine in Delphi

Dozens gather for the April 29 celebration with Bishop Timothy L. Doherty.

Dozens gather for the April 29 celebration with Bishop Timothy L. Doherty.

By Jesica E. Hollinger

DELPHI — A deluge of rain didn’t stop more than 50 devoted servants of Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable (MTA), lovingly gathered for Bishop Timothy L. Doherty’s blessing of the Stations of the Cross at the Wayside Shrine of Our Lady of Schoenstatt in Delphi.

Onlookers smiled as Bishop Doherty noted the appropriateness of the excessive precipitation, quoting Scripture in a passage from Deuteronomy 32:1-12:

Give ear, O Heavens, while I speak;
let the earth hearken to the words of my mouth!
May my instruction soak in like the rain,
and my discourse permeate like the dew,
like a downpour upon the grass,
like a shower upon the crops ...

Sister Ann Astell gave opening remarks to the faithful, huddled under umbrellas, expressing her gratitude to those instrumental in the installation and dedication for the Stations of the Cross.

“The dedication of the outdoor Stations marks an important milestone in the members’ apostolate, who have been active here and the surrounding area for more than 30 years,” Sister Ann said.

“The prayers used at the dedication of the Stations were written by Schoenstatt’s founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, when he was a prisoner in Dachau and shared deeply in Christ’s suffering,” she said.

Sister Ann, a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, was an instrumental force in the Schoenstatt Movement when it first took root here, having brought the traveling shrine with her when she came to teach at the Purdue University English Department in 1988.

She currently teaches in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, though she still remains active in the local movement through regular trips.

Sister Ann said the Schoenstatt Movement centers on the Schoenstatt Shrine as a place of grace and pilgrimage, making the Stations of the Cross a very fitting tribute at the Wayside Shrine in Delphi.

“The stones on which the Stations are carved remind me of the ‘living stones’ with which the Church is built, as each stone and each Station expresses the faith and devotion of the persons who donated it,” she said. “The Stations are here now, for everyone to reflect and pray, so we are hopeful that many will make use of them.”  

Betty and Jack Jones carved the Stations of the Cross into rocks that follow a path, which begins at the Wayside Shrine and continues in a circle, winding its way back to the shrine.

Sister Ann is one of the four Catholic women — known as the core four — who started the area movement. Along with Sister Ann, all the women were present to celebrate the dedication, including Suzanne Gardiner, Rosemary Speaker and Janine Reklaitis. 

Reklaitis said she and her friends were very concerned about the rainy weather forecast for their special day.

“All week long our mantra had been the Schoenstatt prayer, ‘Mother takes perfect care,’” Reklaitis said. “We could only pray and trust. On that morning, we gathered in quite the downpour! Many of us were thinking — would our Blessed Mother inter-vene; would she have the sun break through the clouds?”

Though that didn’t happen, Reklaitis said she thinks MTA did use one of her beloved human instruments to save the day.

“Our Bishop Timothy gazed upon his flock huddled together, sharing umbrellas, and mercifully announced that he would shorten the dedication prayers,” she said. “The sun shone in our hearts — despite the weather.

“He blessed each Station as we made our way in procession, but the full prayers were reserved for only a few of the Stations which were in our printed programs and excerpted from ‘Heavenwards,’ which is from the set of prayers written by Schoenstatt’s founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, during his time at the Dachau concentration camp.

“As we began our first song, ‘Lift High the Cross,’ Bishop led us to sing more forcefully, like the beat of a true victory march, this being Eastertide,” she added.

Reklaitis said this was a sharp contrast to the refrain of the “Stabat Mater” (a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary), which the congregation sang as they moved from Station to Station in the pouring rain.

“I reflected on this contrast and thought how true to life, us winding our way around, meditating on the sorrow of the Cross, to proclaim its victory at the 15th Station, which is erected closest to the Way-side Shrine, the Resurrection of Christ, our Lord and Savior,” she said.

Guests departed after the dedication activities, heading to a festively decorated lunch reception with live music at the Delphi Opera House.

The Wayside Shrine and Stations are located just off State Road 18, past the Wabash and Erie Canal, west of downtown Delphi. The shrine is free and open to the public. 

Currently there are more than 200 daughter shrines throughout the world, with 10 shrines in the United States, including the shrine in Delphi.

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