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Celebration of the Liturgical Memory of Blessed Engelmar in Salamanca

In the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis by which Fr. Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig, C.M.M., missionary of Mariannhill and martyr of Charity in the Dachau concentration camp, was declared Blessed it is stated: “His feast is able to be celebrated every year in the places and ways established by law on the second day of March, the day on which he went up to heaven”.
On March 2nd the Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.
The celebration, presided over by the diocesan Bishop Mgr. Carlos López Hernández, took place on the eve of that day in the church of the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima [Salamanca].
At the very beginning of the celebration the Bishop blessed a polychrome carving of Blessed Engelmar. The carving was made eight years ago in the Czech Republic and was recently painted by an artist from Salamanca, Mr. Francisco Orejudo Alonso.
The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.
After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it. Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.
Then the intercession of Blessed Engelmar was invoked in the opening prayer of his Mass, which reads: “Almighty and eternal God, you gave the martyr Blessed Engelmar the grace to give witness to your merciful love in the midst of the cruelty of imprisonment. Through his intercession give us, too, the strength to love our sisters and brothers with dedication and serve them full of mercy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”.
The biblical readings proclaimed in the celebration were those of the Mass of the new Blessed. The first reading was taken from the Book of Wisdom [3: 1-9]. As a responsorial psalm a few verses of Psalm 27 were sung. The second reading was taken from the First Letter of St. Peter [3: 14-17]. As Gospel the end of the Gospel of Matthew [28: 16-20], which contains the missionary mandate of the Lord to his disciples, was proclaimed.
In his homily the Bishop, besides taking a tour through the most important milestones in the life of the new Blessed, pointed out how in the midst of the hell of the Dachau concentration camp Blessed martyr Engelmar behaved like an angel. He advised the newcomers, encouraged the weak, comforted the desperate, shared his food with those who had nothing, begged to help the most disadvantaged, spoke of God, taught the catechism, etc. That was how, even as a prisoner, he became a good Mariannhill Missionary. He also indicated how in the life of Blessed Engelmar the disconcerting logic of the paschal mystery of Christ was fulfilled, i.e. whoever gives up his life out of love wins it forever.
The very surname of the new Blessed – Unzeitig – refers to the disconcerting nature of the paschal logic. Unzeitig in German means something that happens out of time, which happens in the off-time. Applied, for example, to agricultural products it would refer to immature fruits, not complete, not having achieved the degree of expected ripening. Is it not true in the light of the evangelical and paschal logic that what the world usually judges as immature and untimely is regarded by God as the most propitious and opportune?
In the prayers of the faithful several petitions were addressed to God, taking Blessed Engelmar as intercessor. They were [1] that, in commemorating Blessed Engelmar’s love for God, we feel impelled to make our life more religious; [2] that, in commemorating the missionary zeal of Blessed Engelmar, we be urged to keep apostolic zeal alive in ourselves; [3] that in commemorating the generosity of Blessed Engelmar to those most in need, we be encouraged to follow his example; [4] that, in commemorating the patience of Blessed Engelmar in adversity, we may find ourselves comforted in the hour of trial; and [5] that, in commemorating the sacrifice of the young life of Blessed Engelmar, we be taught to respond to our personal vocation.
At the moment of the offertory, together with the Eucharistic bread and wine, three especially eloquent symbols referring to Blessed Engelmar were brought up; a heart, a loaf of bread and a piece of barbed wire. The heart symbolized the unconditional love with which Blessed Engelmar did all things and which earned him the title of Angel of Dachau. The loaf of bread made reference to the giving away of his life and his things, which earned him the title of Missionary of Mercy. The barbed wire symbolized the unconditional sacrifice of Blessed Engelmar in favor of the sick and dying, the neediest of all, gaining for him the merit to be invoked with the title of Martyr of Charity.
At the end of the celebration Fr Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M., Regional Superior of Mariannhill in Spain, thanked everyone present for attending this moving Eucharistic celebration. He recalled that the saints and blessed are oases of peace that God puts in the midst of the deserts of our life, so that we can rest and regain strength in order to continue the pilgrimage of existence. From Blessed Engelmar – he continued – we can learn at least three things: [1] God does not move away from us even when we go through difficulties. Therefore in the midst of such situations we must not go away from God. [2] We must be faithful to the commitments made in baptism and to those we have accepted later in life. [3] We can be evangelizers and missionaries even if it seems that the circumstances in which we now find ourselves are not the most propitious for this. He ended by inviting everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.
So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.

Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M.

PHOTOS: CARMEN BORREGO MUÑOZ [SALAMANCA/SPAIN] [1] 2nd March 2017: Celebration of the Liturgical Memory of Blessed Engelmar in Salamanca.

[2] The Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.

[3] The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.

[4] After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it.

[5] Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.

[6] So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.

[7] At the end of the celebration the Regional Superior invited everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.

Perpetual Profession of Frt. Philip Abilio Lenço, C.M.M.

At the service of the mission for one’s whole life:
Perpetual Profession of Frt. Philip Abilio Lenço, C.M.M.

Salamanca, January 6, 2017

On the evening of January 6, 2017, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, another young missionary of Mariannhill, Frt. Philip made his perpetual profession.
The celebration took place in the parish church of the patron of the city of Salamanca, Saint John of Sahagún.
Already five years ago, after his novitiate, Frt. Philip was transferred to Spain in order to begin the formative process for becoming a priest of Christ.
Wishing to move a step further in his religious and missionary commitment, Frt. Philip, on the evening of that solemn and missionary feast, consecrated himself to God for life, making public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Together with the missionary community of Mariannhill in Spain some other priests close to Mariannhill, as well as a large assembly of faithful, all friends of Mariannhill, were present at the celebration.
A choir composed of young people from the parish of Saint John of Sahagún and some Mariannhill missionaries in formation animated the whole celebration with song. The varied repertoire of songs performed in Spanish, Portuguese and Makua helped to make the celebration lively and meaningful.
Faithful to the liturgy of the day, the celebration had as a backdrop the story of those Wise Men coming from the East who, guided by a star, left their land and embarked on a risky journey in search of an unknown king. In their search they found the famous King Herod and the star disappeared. The star appeared again when they found Jesus, whom they recognized as the King they were looking for.
After the reading of the Gospel, Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M., regional superior of the Missionaries of Mariannhill in Spain, who presided over the celebration, gave the homily. In the first part of the homily he pointed out that the simplicity and charm of the event of the wise men of the East should not distract our attention from what lies behind it. This simple and charming event reveals to us, under the image of the star, that God wants all men to be saved; that Jesus was sent as a light to enlighten all nations; and that Mary is the Mother who has presented this light to all peoples. The light of God shone even in those distant regions, beyond the visible borders of Israel, and in this way revealed itself to all the peoples, represented in those mysterious persons coming from the East and guided by a star. Meanwhile and ever since, the great caravan of mankind is still on the move seeking the God-Man Savior. They are led by a guiding star, i.e. the intuition that only in Jesus will they find the desired salvation. Mankind loses its orientation and the star hides when Jesus is mixed up with any other of those who claim to be saviors. The star always tells us where the real and authentic things are and where the substitutes are.

Once the homily was finished, in accord with the ritual of perpetual profession, Frt. Philip, after being called by the deacon, was questioned about his willingness to assume the commitments connected with the step he was about to take.
As such a step can only be sustained and guaranteed by the help that comes from above, all of us, with the singing of the litany of the Saints, asked for the blessing of God on Frt. Philip while he remained prostrate before the altar.
At the end of this part of the ritual Frt. Philip, with a candle burning in his hand and kneeling before his superior, read the formula of profession which he himself had hand written.
Particularly significant and touching was the moment when, after finishing the reading of the formula and before signing it, Frt. Philip was approached by the other confreres, dressed in showy African clothes, who engaged him in a sung dialogue which expressed the generous surrender to God of Frt. Philip as a missionary of Mariannhill in the service of the mission of the Church.
Then followed the long and beautiful prayer over Frt. Philip who, in order to live in a radical way the consecration of his Baptism, had just consecrated himself to God for his whole life.
The rite of perpetual profession ended with the reception of Frt. Philip into the Congregation of Mariannhill as a full member. Then the celebration of the Eucharist continued.
Let us now turn to the words the regional superior addressed to Frt. Philip in the second part of the homily.
Dear Frt. Philip, the following words are specially meant for you this evening, as you consecrate yourself to God for life by making public vows of the three evangelical counsels in this missionary family of Mariannhill.
The undisputed protagonist of this day is the star. This special luminous body began to disturb the peaceful life of those wise studiers of the firmament. Once they discovered it in the sky, they understood that they had to complicate life and embark on a journey to find someone special, of whom the star was a sign. The star was for them the safe guide on the road.
Through human reasoning those sages got off track, for they came to believe that the capital, where the king lived, was the ultimate goal of their adventurous journey. Proof of their mistake is that the star disappeared. When they were again pointed in the right direction the star reappeared, filling their heart with joy. The star stood still at the place where the object of their quest was. After reaching their goal they no longer needed the guidance of the star in the sky, for the star was now shining in their inner sky. Therefore they returned to their land by another road.
Dear Frt. Philip, is not this perhaps the best parable of the journey that your vocation has taken and which is to continue in the future? Is not your vocation a path marked by stages, always new and unpublished?
We all need a star to live by. There are those stars that are fleeting: they shine brightly and are beautiful but they do not last. Then there are the authentic stars: they do not always shine; they are demanding; and they do not make life easy for us. Sometimes they hide themselves, but they lend us the great service of warning us of the falsehood of idols.
Dear Frt. Philip, who is supposed to be your guiding star? In the light of which star should you walk?
The star which has to shine in the firmament of your life is God Himself, is Christ, and is Mary. God tells you where the truth is and where the lie, where the true values and where the fleeting ones, where the idols and where He is who is the true God. Christ illuminates your conscience with his light. He guides you towards the goal to which you have been called, admonishing you against everything that impoverishes and degrades your human and Christian dignity.
Mary is the star of the morning whose mission is to warn you of the imminent appearance of that Sun who is born from on high, her Son and Lord. Mary makes you uneasy, inviting you to always look up so you do not settle for what is given to you on the ground level. Mary is the one who introduces you to the house of the Church, showing you Jesus so that you may adore him and offer him the best of your life without stinginess or pettiness. Mary is the one who urges you to share the joy of discovery as you return by that other path that is called conversion and new life to the normality of daily existence.
After congratulating the newly professed, all of us left that celebration with the determination to walk in the light of the star and, with missionary passion, to invite all to join the great caravan of the seekers of God.

Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto CMM