German-Russians' Pilgrimage to the Mother
of God Shrine in Deggingen
Russlanddeutsche Wallfahrt zur Mutter Gottes in Deggingen
Bata, Josef. "German-Russians' Pilgrimage to the Mother of God Shrine in Deggingen." Volk auf dem Weg, October 2005, 8.
Translation from the original German text to American
English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
Once each year, this year being the 27th time, the ecclesiastical
gathering of German-Russian Catholics took place on September 11
in Deggingen in the Baden-Wuerttemberg.
|Getting together during the pilgrimage:
(left to right) Ruth Kloetzel, Deacon Kurt Reinelt, Pastor Anton
Heinz, Magdalena Merdian and Stefan Kloetzel
All of these people trace their homeland, their roots, to Russia,
Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, the Ukraine or White Russia. A few of the
elder generation are part of those who were driven out of their
homes, others are descendants of these, while others are people
who, as Aussiedler, left their homes to resettle voluntarily. What
unites all of them is belonging to an ethnic as well as a faith
community. Once again, most of them took upon themselves a long
journey of hundreds of kilometers on the autobahn, whether by special
bus or by personal car, to participate in the pilgrimage to the
Capuchin monastery church "Ave Maria."
Adding to the festive atmosphere on this Sunday was the presence
Auxiliary Bishop Gerhard Pieschl of Limburg. He is Ecclesiastical
Germans from Russia and, at the same time, Official Representative
of the German
Conference of Bishops with responsibility for the spiritual care
and refuge Germans from Russia. As has been their custom, the German-Russian
chorus "Heimatmelodie," under the direction of Aljona
Heiser of Ausgburg, was
in attendance and inspired some three hundred pilgrimage participants
their beautiful singing.
Furthermore, the faithful were able to experience, up close and
Auxiliary Bishop Pieschl, who did not adhere to the common custom
delivering his sermon from the pulpit, but -- like Jesus in His
time -- simply walked
amidst the throng of his listeners and addressed them in his direct
and expressed his joy over the attendance of such a large number
As an act of his eprsonal gratitude he explained, in a very stylish
the various paintings in the monastery church. In addition, he emphasized
meaning of the concept of Heimat, while weaving in Pope Benedict
Sixteenth's thoughts on the Special Heimat Day. For Auxiliary Bishop
Pieschl it is
improtant not only to contempalte the idea of Heimat, but also to
the memory of the old Heimat. In his view, it is far more important
particularly those in attendance at church look at each other and
be aware of who
stands next to them, behind them, and in front of them. For it is
-- when they get to know each other -- that people can experience
meaning of Heimat.
During the second part of his sermon, the auxiliary bishop talked
significance of the role of Holy Mother Mary, by her own life, and
perspective of the story of salvation. He did this, of course, also
people had gathered in Deggingen especially to honor the Mother
Since the feast of Mary's birth had been observed just before the
asked the faithful to join him in greeting the Mother of God with
song wishing her a very "Happy Birthday."
The sermon was followed by prayers for the community of faithful.
female prayer leader expressed, on behalf of all in attendance,
toward life, their needs and worries, as well as their readiness
and reconciliation. She also prayed for the millions who are still
from their Heimat; she prayed for a peaceful end of upheaval and
changes still in process in the East, that people might live in
freedom. She included in her paryer hundreds of thousands who had
are buried and forgotten, that the might find rest and peace in
Heimat. In conclusion, Auxiliary Bishop Pieschl prayed for the intercession
by the Holy Pople Clemens, patron saint of Germans from Russia.
Following the service, there were expressions of appreciation for
efforts and accomplishments of the main organizers, Ida Hosmann
Diocese of Augsburg and Dr. Wendelin Mangold of the Office for Spiritual
Care of Catholic Germans from Russia.
Near the Memorial Cross for German-Russian Victims in the cemetery,
festivities were concluded by the remembrance of the dead, and with
of the Song of Fate of the Germans from Russia. During the relaxed
gathering, the participants in the pilgrimage had the opportunity
to renew old
friendships and acauaintances. The Eisener family had seen to the
comfort by providing coffee, kuchen, and sandwiches.
Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation
of this article.