Josef Kentenich

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Josef Kentenich

Josef (Joseph) Kentenich (born November 16, 1885 in Gymnich near Cologne , † September 15, 1968 in Schoenstatt ) was a priest in the Society of the Pallottines , a society of apostolic life , and founder of the international Schoenstatt Movement .


Origin and development

Birthplace in Gymnich

Kentenich was born in Gymnich near Cologne as an illegitimate child of Katharina Kentenich and Matthias Josef Köp and baptized with the name Peter Josef .

From September 23, 1899 to 1904 he attended the Pallottiner-Gymnasium in Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein . After the two-year novitiate (September 24, 1904 to 1906), he studied Catholic theology from 1906 to 1911 in the Pallottine mission house in Limburg ad Lahn . On July 8, 1910, he was ordained a priest in Limburg . On September 18, 1911 he became a teacher in Ehrenbreitstein. From 1912 to 1919 he worked as a spiritual guide at the Pallottine College in Vallendar on the Rhine.

Mathias Köp, the father of Joseph Kentenich, was born on December 9, 1847 in Eggersheim at Bachstrasse 9. He died on March 19, 1931 in the Kurfürstenstr. 7. Köp never married and died single. According to the cemetery register, he died of old age and was buried in grave no.119. The grave was leveled in the 1970s.

Köp was the manager of the Heuserhof in what was then Alt-Oberbolheim . It was there that he met Josef Kentenich's mother, Katharina Kentenich. There is no evidence that Josef Kentenich visited his father in Eggersheim in 1910, without his mother.

Foundation of Schoenstatt

On April 19, 1914, Peter Josef Kentenich founded a Marian congregation in Vallendar together with some of the students entrusted to him , from which the Schoenstatt Work later emerged. October 18, 1914 is considered to be the founding day, on which he gave a lecture to his students in the Michaelskapelle. During the First World War , the young Schoenstatt Movement expanded to include members outside the Vallendar College. In 1919 was Apostolic Federation and 1920, the Apostolic League was founded. The apostolic union was a gathering place for people - whether pupils, theology students, priests, women, men, academics, teachers or whoever - who wanted to be motivated and empowered for apostolic engagement from Schoenstatt. On December 8, 1920, the first women were officially admitted to the Apostolic League . From this alliance various new communities were formed. On October 1st, 1926, Kentenich founded the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary as the first secular institute .

Until 1951 Kentenich belonged to the house community of the federal home built in 1928 (today Pallotti House).

Memorial plaque in Koblenz

time of the nationalsocialism

Due to his strictly negative attitude towards National Socialism (“I can't find any place on him where the water of baptism could hit”), Kentenich was arrested by the Gestapo on September 20, 1941 in Koblenz . On March 13, 1942, he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp , where he was imprisoned until April 6, 1945. On July 16, 1942, he founded two Schoenstatt communities in the concentration camp: the Schoenstatt Institute of the Marienbrüder and - on behalf of the Schoenstatt Family Work - the Institute of the Schoenstatt Families . In Dachau, he did not share his food parcels with his fellow sufferers there. He justified this by saying that he had to stand up for his movement.

post war period

On October 18, 1945, Kentenich founded the Association of Diocesan Priests and on February 2, 1946 the Institute of the Women of Schoenstatt. On November 16, 1945 he began to travel abroad to Switzerland , Italy , Latin America , South Africa and the USA .

After the secular institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary was officially recognized by Rome in 1948, a diocesan visitation of Schoenstatt and the community of sisters by the Trier auxiliary bishop Bernhard Stein took place surprisingly in February 1949 . Father Kentenich openly commented on the visit report while he was abroad. (Letter of May 31, 1949: "Epistola perlonga") With this he wanted to bring about a more detailed scientific discussion of his pastoral concerns. This was perceived as a provocation and led to indictment at the Holy Office , which resulted in a papal visitation. In the course of this, Kentenich was banished from Europe on September 30, 1951 by a decree of the papal visitor, Father Sebastian Tromp SJ. Further restrictive decrees followed, without any background information for these measures. Kentenich's hope that the growing suspicions would be dealt with by everyone was not fulfilled. After opening the archives from the time of Pius XII. The tromp biographer and church historian Alexandra von Teuffenbach made public at the beginning of July 2020 that Kentenich had been reprimanded by the Holy Office for being banned from Europe for systematic abuse of power against the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary and for sexual abuse . This ban was never officially lifted. The then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote on April 2, 1982: "" At the meeting of the Holy Office on October 29, 1965 none of the previous decisions of the Holy Office concerning the teaching, activity and person of Fr Kentenich were annulled. They just did not insist that Fr Kentenich, who had come to Rome from the USA without the permission of the Congregation, but rather on the basis of a misinterpreted telegram, had to return there. ”The General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Association rejected the allegation of abuse“ resolutely ” .

From June 21, 1952, Josef Kentenich spent his time in exile in Milwaukee , USA, as a pastor for Germans. Since he did not see himself as an accuser or a fighter, but as an innovator and friend of the Church, Kentenich followed all of the conditions. In September 1965 he received an (anonymous) telegram with an invitation to the Generalate of the Pallottines in Rome, where he arrived on September 17, 1965. In December, Pope Paul VI rehabilitated . Kentenich in an audience. On Christmas Eve 1965, at the age of eighty, he returned to Schoenstatt, where he continued to direct and consolidate his worldwide work for three years. As a result of the separation of the Schoenstatt Movement from the Pallottines, Josef Kentenich asked to join the diocesan clergy of the diocese of Münster. On November 16, 1965, he was incardinated by Bishop Joseph Höffner in the diocese of Münster.

Adoration Church on the Schoenstatt Mountain; Father Kentenich's grave

On September 15, 1968, the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary , Father Kentenich celebrated Holy Mass for the first and last time in the newly built Trinity Church on Mount Schoenstatt and died unexpectedly immediately after the Mass in the sacristy of the church. This former sacristy is now the grave chapel of Father Kentenich. His sarcophagus bears the Latin inscription Dilexit Ecclesiam ("He loved the Church").


Josef Kentenich (West German postage stamp, 1985)

Josef Kentenich saw himself as a pedagogue and has reflected his pedagogical activities to a high degree. He wanted the Schoenstatt Movement to be understood not only as a spiritual and apostolic, but also as a pedagogical movement. The Kentenich pedagogy he developed is the fruit of his new image of man, community and God. It is a very human and soul-friendly pedagogy. It aims at the freedom and full development of people (ideal pedagogy). It focuses on the spiritual and emotional ability to bond and the abundance of human ties (attachment pedagogy). Kentenich consistently represents an image of God, according to which God is the educator of man. His image of Mary is also shaped by it. Maria is the ultimate educator (alliance education).

Reception and monuments

Bronze statue of the founder next to a chapel
Kentenich statue (in the garden of the former Weidtman Castle in Koblenz)
  • On February 10, 1975 the beatification process for Josef Kentenich was opened in Trier . Until 2016 the Schoenstatt Father Angel Strada was a postulator in Kentenich's process of beatification. The Argentine, born in 1939, had met him personally. In an interview in 2016 he had already admitted that for the beatification process "a picture of our founder, where everything is perfect, where holiness was there from the beginning" had to be dispensed with: "This Kentenich did not exist". (fxn)
  • Kentenich's life was set to music in 1985 by Ludger Edelkötter and Wilhelm Willms with the musical Wagnis und Liebe .
  • In a viewer poll by ZDF in 2003, Kentenich came in 17th among the “best Germans”.
  • In 2005 the Patris Verlag published the book by Christian Feldmann, the first biography of Kentenich written by a non-Schoenstatt artist.
  • A copper plaque for Josef Kentenich can be found in the vestibule of the modern Holy Spirit Church in Kolberg , Poland .


Web links

Commons : Joseph Kentenich  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Dorothea M. Schlickmann ISSM : The hidden years. Father Josef Kentenich. Childhood and Adolescence (1885–1910). Schoenstatt-Verlag, Vallendar 2007, ISBN 978-3-935396-11-0 , p. 21.
  2. Dorothea M. Schlickmann ISSM: The hidden years. Father Josef Kentenich. Childhood and Adolescence (1885–1910). Schoenstatt-Verlag, Vallendar 2007, ISBN 978-3-935396-11-0 , p. 25.
  3. births registry office Binsfeld no. 41/1841.
  4. ^ Binsfeld registry office death register No. 10/1931.
  5. ^ Joachim Schmiedl ISch : Schoenstatt, place . In: Hubertus Brantzen (Ed.): Schoenstatt Lexicon: Facts - Ideas - Life . 2nd unchanged edition. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 2002, ISBN 3-87620-195-0 ( ).
  8. LHAKo Order 700,285 No. 1.
  9. Joachim Schmiedl ISch: Stein, Bernhard . In: Hubertus Brantzen (Ed.): Schoenstatt Lexicon: Facts - Ideas - Life . 2nd unchanged edition. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 2002, ISBN 3-87620-195-0 ( ).
  10. Organic connection of natural and supernatural way of life.
  11. Dorothea M. Schlickmann ISSM: Josef Kentenich. A life on the edge of the volcano. 4th edition. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2019, ISBN 978-3-451-38388-5 , p. 245 ff .
  12. ^ Joachim Schmiedl ISch: Schoenstatt, history . In: Hubertus Brantzen (Ed.): Schoenstatt Lexicon: Facts - Ideas - Life . 2nd unchanged edition. Patris-Verlag, Vallendar 2002, ISBN 3-87620-195-0 ( ).
  13. For more information, cf. Dorothea M. Schlickmann ISSM: Josef Kentenich. A life on the edge of the volcano. Freiburg i. B. 2018, pp. 226-265, 276ff.
  14. The Daily Mail: The Daily Mail. July 1, 2020, accessed on July 1, 2020 (German).
  15. Felix Neumann: Suspicion of abuse against Kentenich: "The truth must come to light". In: July 8, 2020, accessed on July 10, 2020 (interview with Alexandra von Teuffenbach).
  16. Alexandra von Teuffenbach: Ratzinger: Kentenich was not rehabilitated . In: The daily mail . No. 32/2020.
  17. ^ Schoenstatt - Statement on allegations of abuse against Fr. Josef Kentenich. Retrieved July 3, 2020 .
  18. Called on August 12, 2020
  19. ^ ZDF ranking - The 100 greatest Germans. Retrieved April 12, 2019 .
  20. Seen and photographed in May 2018.