God in the Middle
The International Theological Institute (ITI) and the Institute for Marriage and Family (IEF) Seminar, Trumau, Lower Austria
The Seminar was opened by Dr Christiaan Alting von Geusau, Rector of ITI, who introduced the Bishop Dr Franz Scharl from the Archdiocese of Vienna.
Univ-Prof Dr Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz
talked about Differences between men and women in the order of creation. She introduced Hindu aspects and other religions and cultures to explain the Christian and Catholic position. She is the leader of the European Institute for Philosophy and Religion at the University of Heiligenkreuz.
After the coffee break Prof Dr Karl Wallner, Rector of the Phil-Theol University Benedict XVI Heiligenkreuz, spoke about Marriage – Bond – Sacrament. What is the sacrament that links man and woman? He spoke very theoretically. Before lunch, there was a mass in the chapel downstairs. The mass was celebrated by a whole crowd of priests, bishops and seminarians, but mainly by Diocesan Bishop Dr Klaus Küng from St. Pölten. He is called the “Family Bishop”. We had lunch with Fr Dr Falkovitz, she knew that our (Unificationist) focus was the family.
As we arrived, Josef recognized a Slovak seminarian who was in Dublin at the European Summit 2015. Then he introduced me to a couple who remembered the Family Congress Josef did in Innsbruck in 2008. As we moved in and out of the meeting room we were greeted by Bishop Klaus Küng, who recognized Josef, and I motioned that we were together.
The presentations were very interesting. The room was somewhat crowded but the rector mentioned that they had received funding and the next and sixth conference would take place next year in a new hall being built for 300 people.
After lunch the presentation was by a couple, Gabriele and Martin Kräftner on Marriage as vocational calling and commission. She is a Teen Star practitioner in St. Pölten. They explained their path together, after 28 years of marriage, four children, and a beginning where she did not have any religious upbringing and questioned everything. Now they do marriage guidance, counselling and preparation seminars together. The Schönstadt Movement was represented by Family Berger and a number of others. Marcus Mucha works in St.Pölten in the Office of the Family. He was concerned for the Catholic Sacrament of Marriage and when we spoke of the blessing and our experiences, he was a bit challenged. Corvin Gams, from ICF talked about the theology of the body.
The World Café had three sessions and was our opportunity to share. The topics were:
- Prayer in the Family, with Pater Simons, who is from Holland and based in Heiligenkreuz.
- How to make marriage attractive, with Marcus Mucha.
- Evangelism, Family Sickinger.
In the first group, a Polish Neo-Catechemenist Priest, Lukas Skiba, talked about his experiences in the community. I mentioned then that my brother was also a priest in this group, and later talked to him over coffee.
Mr Teufl talked about Marriage Week which he is promoting for 7-14 February. He said prayer is more intimate than sex.
In the second group there were some questions about the sacrament of marriage and marriage per se.
Then of course we mentioned our blessing. I pointed out that we give the blessing to non-Christians, Hindus and Buddhists and this met with some surprise. They wanted to know what our baptism ceremony is and I said it was all included in the blessing. I then also mentioned that our children are born free from original sin and so do not need baptism.
In the third group, Josef introduced his idea of the wood stove which needs to be re-fuelled in order to keep burning as a parallel to marriage and he was asked to draw it on the sheet. This example was used in the report, featured in the YouTube video.
Josef and I were very inspired by the day we spent with the Catholics and saw it as very fruitful networking. On the way home I shared that I was already thinking beforehand that we need to do Unification Principle seminars to teach True Family Values to UN VIPs and also to Catholic contacts.