At the end of the final banquet, the full impact of a week in Europe could be felt. With candles burning low, many gradually filtered out of the majestic ballroom at Lowenstein Castle while others engaged in conversation late into the night exchanging so many impressions.
Indeed participants in the TFP’s 2006 Sixth International Student Summer Conference (Université d’Été) in Kleinheubach, Germany had a very full program.
The conference was the project of the Tradition Family Property (TFP) organizations in France and Germany from July 23-30 with the theme: “What are the Challenges that Await the Militant Catholic in a Dechristianized World?”
The theme and the place, rich in history, made the perfect combination that transcended borders and languages for the nearly 150 participants. Delegations from Austria, Germany, Poland, Brazil, Australia, Belarus, the United States, Italy, and several other nations gathered at the stately eighteenth century castle in an atmosphere of unity and resolve.
Especially noteworthy was the presence of the International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima which presided over the event for the first four days.
Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, Bishop Emeritus of San Luis (Argentina) and other clerical guests provided daily Mass, advice and sermons at the castle’s enchanting private chapel.
Other distinguished guests and speakers included H.I.R.H. Prince Luis of Orleans-Braganza from Brazil and Duke Paul of Oldenburg who delivered inspiring addresses and closing remarks.
The topics discussed at the “Summer University” could not be timelier. The talks were delivered by TFP members and friends from around the world and were simultaneously interpreted in six languages. Based on the analysis using Revolution and Counter-revolution by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Olivieira, speakers sought to address current problems.
Who could not, for example, recognize the “pseudo-tolerant ones” described by TFP member Jose Ureta speaking of those who tolerate every social evil yet deny any moral good?
German TFP director Mathias von Gersdorff provided a masterful socio-political overview of a world in crisis. Italian writer Guido Vignelli dealt with cultural mechanisms used in modern media to transform mentalities. Another talk developed egalitarianism and liberalism applied to daily life in society.
Far from only focusing on problems, the program speakers also discussed solutions. Using a refreshing Thomistic approach, TFP member Julio Loredo discussed “Christian Order in the Soul, Society and Institutions.” Polish TFP director Arkadiusz Stelmach, discussed the importance of the Fatima Message today. French TFP president Benoit Bemelmens gave an inspiring talk on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of a militant Catholic.
Italian scholar, Prof. Roberto de Mattei developed the theme of the present counter-revolutionary struggle in the context of a theology of history.
As in past conferences, participants not only studied Christian civilization, there were immersed in its remnants. Whether at a concert in the nearby Bronnback Monastery, a banquet at the bishop-prince’s residence in Wurzburg, or a visit to the German headquarters of the Teutonic Knights, all was oriented toward understanding what Christian civilization was and what values need to be restored. The very castle itself, still the residence of the Prince of Lowenstein, was full of marvelous history.
Moreover, the different national delegations added their own element of immersion. Each contributed toward understanding the universal nature of the values of Christian civilization. Each also helped create a climate of unity around the universal ideals of the Counterrevolution Participants could discuss their experiences and offer their own perspectives during study workshops which took the abstract principles learned in the talks and applied them to concrete reality. The delegations could discuss their own activities and successes.
Details Enriched Experience
However, it was the little things that helped make the event so memorable. It was the dinner in the Castle’s brewery with live local folk music. There was the bagpipe, fife and drum presentation by the American TFP band at an evening barbecue on the castle grounds. Who can forget the round-the-clock vigil in front of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue in the chapel? Or the formal raising of the TFP standard in the morning?
The Kleinheubach ambiance was one of reflection. It was an atmosphere of conversation and conviviality whether during the meals together, the coffee breaks or short bus rides. Finally, there were numerous opportunities to pray together for the Catholic cause.
Resolution and Enthusiasm
The solemn final banquet in the majestic ballroom was an almost fairy-tale ambiance that provided a marvelous closing to a busy week. Representatives of the national delegations delivered speeches and testimonials. Diplomas and presents were distributed. Closing remarks by Duke Paul of Oldenburg and others reminded the participants of the fight ahead.
As the night slowly ended, one could savor the impressions of a memorable week. More than just impressions, each felt his own convictions fortified by the experience. And from those convictions, participants left with resolutions to take back to their native lands.
The Université d’Été was an excellent initiative on the part of the TFP organizations in Europe. The excellent organization and coordination let participants take maximum advantage of the week. All left better suited to face the challenges that await the militant Catholic in a dechristianized world.