Hello from the Ver Sacrum Missionaries!
A warm welcome from Maria Stein, Ohio! After a full day of flights starting bright and early at 6am, we safely traveled through four time zones on three planes with no delays, damages, or disasters. In Ohio we were greeted by Deb Smith, who quickly showed us Ohio hospitality by taking us out to supper and showing us around. We also met with Debbie Smith (not to be confused with Deb Smith!) and discussed plans for camp. The next morning, young and enthusiastic girls arrived for the day camp, which was held at Deb Smith’s farm. The beautiful “barn” was equipped with a kitchen, classroom, bathroom, and gym! The day passed quickly as we taught lessons, worked on our shrine craft, sang songs, played games, ate lunch and prayed together. The only disappointment of the day was a torrential rain storm, which cancelled our afternoon swimming in the pond. Still, the day was a huge success!
The next day, we began our camp for the older girls at the Maria Stein Retreat Center. The beautiful facility offered a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere for the 12 girls. Some of the highlights included our picturesque rosary walk through the forest, a special trip to the wayside shrine, the bonfire and sharing of personal “power of prayer” stories, fun socializing time, and growing closer to the Blessed Mother. We found that the girls in Ohio are very eager to learn more about Schoenstatt and desperately want to have a shrine for their state. A few years ago, a small wayside shrine was dedicated to the Mother Thrice Admirable and placed at the Maria Stein retreat center. It is right next to the lake and makes a great prayer place. Plus, it was great to have the MTA with us during camp!
As in every other state, our host families proved to be nothing but generous. Deb Smith & Debbie Smith (or as we called them, “The Debbie Duo”) went over and above to make us comfortable and happy during our stay. They brought us to some of the best places the area had to offer, including the 2nd largest collection of relics in the world and a fabulous Mexican restaurant. It was so beautiful to see how much they are doing for Schoenstatt in their area. We especially enjoyed our stay at Deb Smith’s beautiful family farm and the peacefulness of the country.
In Ohio there is a special treasure: an outdoor shrine! It was one of our favorite places. smile emoticon They have created their own outdoor shrine in the forest area near a Diocesan Retreat Facility and have outlined the area with hedges in the exact dimensions of the shrine. Talk about creativity! They even have a bell to ring! It is certainly a beautiful place. The people have been praying for a long time that someday they will be able to have a “real” shrine in the Ohio area. In the meantime, they have invited the Blessed Mother to their state in this unique way.