Hurricanes damage Schoenstatt shrines Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Barbara Brochtrup, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- On the evening of Friday, Aug. 24, to Saturday, Aug. 25, 18 Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in Lamar, Texas, experienced the brunt of Hurricane Harvey, including the eye of the hurricane, as it crossed over their property.

Damage from Hurricane Harvey in Texas

The damage left in its wake was catastrophic. Just about every building on the campus was damaged. Some were destroyed, others lost part or all of the roof, most experienced extensive water damage. Even the Schoenstatt Shrine itself lost part of its roof.

Since then, volunteers and generous donors have been helping to clean up the debris, secure the buildings from further water damage, and supply food and other necessities to the Sisters.

A number of Sisters were evacuated to Wisconsin, since there were no longer enough undamaged rooms for them to remain in Lamar. Reconstruction is slowly beginning, but there is still much help needed and the process will take time.

Optimistically, they hope to have the retreat center running again early next year. Other buildings will take still longer.

Destruction from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, 11 Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary experienced the destruction of Hurricane Maria as it tore through Puerto Rico. Cabo Rojo, the main house of the Sisters on the island, is located on the southwestern corner of the island, and was therefore partly sheltered from the center of the hurricane.

However, the damage caused was still extensive. Roofs were torn off, scraps flew into buildings, and skylights fell in, all leading to extensive water damage. They were without electricity or running water for over two months. A diesel generator provided some electricity. Electricity was restored to the Sisters in December, but they still have no internet service.

What can we do?

The Schoenstatt family throughout the USA and the world is united in prayer for these centers as they work through the effects of the hurricane. Some have already sent funds, spent time in Texas volunteering, or are helping in other ways.

In Madison, we wondered how we could help. Taking advantage of the leaders’ convention at our International Shrine in Waukesha, we developed a plan. Since nature had harmed our shrines, we would spend a day in nature, from shrine to shrine, to help build up the natural beauty of our “beautiful places” once again. After all, Schoenstatt is a German word that means “beautiful place.”

From shrine to shrine for the shrines

On October 9, Patty Raskob and I, Barb Brochtrup, completed a 63-mile bike ride from the International Shrine of the Father Kingdom at the Waukesha Schoenstatt Center to the Founder Shrine at Madison’s Schoenstatt Heights as a fundraising effort for these two Schoenstatt Shrines and centers damaged by the recent hurricanes.

Entrusting the intentions for the shrines and people in Lamar, Texas, and Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, to our Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt, Patty and I set off on our journey, “From Shrine to Shrine for the Shrines.”

As I biked through the beautiful fall Wisconsin landscape, I kept imagining what I would see if I were biking the same distance through Puerto Rico.

Everything would be destroyed for all of those 63 miles. The trees would be blown over, power lines knocked down. The houses would have major damage and be uninhabitable, there would be debris scattered across the land, the devastation would be overwhelming.

My aches and pains from riding that far seemed nothing in comparison. And my heart was full of sorrow for the loss they, the Puerto Ricans, are suffering.

We prayed a Rosary during the entire bike trip, marking every mile with a prayer. God graced us with the support of our families, beautiful weather, and the relative ease of the ride on the Glacial Drumlin bike trail.

Neither one of us had biked that far before, but the important intention motivated us to keep going. We are hoping our efforts will raise awareness of the plight of our Schoenstatt family affected by these storms and that people will do what they can to financially contribute towards a special fund set up for the needs of those affected by the hurricanes.

We appreciate your prayers and any contributions you can make to help rebuild our centers. Donations can be sent directly to the Sisters in Madison, who will pass it on to the two affected areas. Donations can also be made at the Go-Fund-Me site we set up for this cause:

Contributions may be sent to: Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, 5901 Cottage Grove Rd., Madison, WI 53718. For more information, call 608-222-7208.

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