Margaret Mary Yank Fenelon

67 Years old; McHenry, Illinois, USA; married; two children and five grandchildren; Member of the Schoenstatt Family Institute.

What experiences have shaped me as a woman?

There can be no doubt in my mind and heart that I have become the woman I am because my birth family was blessed to know and have Father Kentenich in the midst of our lives.

Without his fatherly influence in the lives of my parents (and therefore my life and the lives of my six siblings) we often reflect on the fact that all of our lives would now be on a completely different plane (and we believe this difference would not be a positive one).

His very real fatherly care and especially the gift of the home shrine – which he opened for us – helped to shape and form my life – and made me the woman I am.

The women whose lives were touched by Father, in particular my mother and Mike’s mother (both Monday Evening Talk participants, together with our fathers) have had a huge impact on the formation of my womanhood.

Where in your life have you experienced God?

In my life I can honestly and gratefully say that the presence of Divine Providence, of a very real living and loving God, has been a part of the very air I have breathed almost ever since I can remember.

This again, I believe, is attributed to the fact that the very real presence of the Blessed Mother and her Son Jesus permeated our home life through the grace of the home shrine (which we are so grateful to have had blessed by Father as one of the first home shrines in Milwaukee during his Exile Years).

What do you see as the challenge for women today?

In our world today – the challenges for women are manifold. I will just mention the three that I feel are the greatest challenge for the future of our world.

  • The world today lifts up and idolizes the self – centered individual. A life of selflessness and service is seen today as a weak one. There is a great and exciting challenge for woman today to lift up the image of Mary – as THE image of womanliness. First and foremost, saying “Fiat” to God’s loving will – and therefore giving of self for the other.
  • There is the great challenge today of gender confusion – the God given uniqueness of man and woman is largely no longer recognized. I believe this confusion began to be promoted through a false feminism – in which some women felt, or feel, that in order to be deemed of value – woman must become like man. From this confusion a multitude of error has sprung. Woman has the great challenge today to prove through her being that her womanhood is a treasure of great price.
  • The third great challenge I see among many in our day is the denigration of motherhood; especially the great joy and challenging mission of motherhood within the family. Bringing a soul into this world and giving ones all to guide and educate this precious being for the love of God – is one of the greatest missions of all time! Of equal importance is the reality of spiritual motherhood – making oneself open and available for the guidance of a soul toward our Heavenly Home.

All of these remedies for the challenges of our world today were spoken about by Father Kentenich 60+ years ago in the “School of Milwaukee”. Those Monday Evening Talks which he gave every week for more than 10 years during his Exile. Forming in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate enough to be there with him in those moments of education, the Ideal of man and woman, and opening up the beauty of the Nazareth Family Ideal for them to discover and strive to embody. It is a great gift that we are able to rediscover these priceless principles within the volumes of these talks which have been and are continuing to be published.

What do you want to change through your life in this world?

I would hope and pray that I could bring a little light and joy into a world that is slipping more and more into darkness and despair.

If I am able to bring through my life, my being, a sense that God is real – that he is a loving God – and that he is very present and near to each one of us – caring deeply for our every need, then I believe I will have made a valuable change in my corner of the world.

I pray that I can live this great reality of belief in Divine Providence which Father Kentenich lived deeply throughout his life. He showed this very fiber of his being to us, in a particular way his “children of the Exile”, during those 14 long years in which he suffered profoundly (though we never knew of this suffering) with an example of joy and fatherly love. If I am able to live from this, his example, in my day to day existence, then I believe I can and will affect the lives of all those who are brought into my life, and in this way make an impact (however small) on our world today.