"Come Home to the Hermitage" Facilitator Training
Marists from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois gathered together for facilitator training at the St. Lawrence Friary in Beacon, New York from July 17 – July 21. Participants joined together for presentations by Br. Don Bisson and Ms. Janet Corso which prepared them to facilitate “Come Home to the Hermitage: Father Champagnat and the Spiritual Exercises” programs in their respective communities.
“Come Home to the Hermitage: Father Champagnat and the Spiritual Exercises” is a new version of an old program out of the Province’s Office of Life and Mission. It will be rolled out in our various Marist communities around the United States Province this fall. The current iteration is derived from the work of the original creators - Brothers Hank Hammer, Don Bisson, Michael Mullin and Leonard Voegtle. Br. Steve Milan looked through more recent Marist documents and contributed new selections to be used in the current program. Br Al Rivera and Luis Ramos were also part of the production team, with some input from Matt Fallon and Maureen Hagan.
The training included Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, incorporated the stories of Marcellin, and used various prayer experiences to enhance the spiritual life of the retreatants. Among the goals of the ‘Come Home’ program are to “bring faith sharing experiences to the local community, to allow creation of sacred space, to help answer the call to transformation, to follow Jesus more closely, and to deepen a process already in progress” (from the Facilitator’s Handbook).
The handbook also asks: “Why Marist?”
1. Champagnat's life and charism uniquely opens us up to the experience of God.
2. The retreat opens brothers and lay collaborators not only into understanding Marist charism but in experiencing it spiritually.
3. The life of Champagnat can reveal the deep yearnings and struggles of our own life.
4. Marcellin's life can lead us to greater intimacy with God.
5. Marist mission flows from this charism.
This retreat was developed as a response to Marists around the Province, especially those who have attended a “Sharing Our Call” retreat, to have opportunities to deepen their Marist spirituality within their local communities. Our hope is that the “Come Home to the Hermitage” program will offer a new opportunity for them to learn about the Marist charism closer to home.
Participants in the training from the New York area were Br. Don Nugent, Br. Pat Hogan, Br. Peter Guadalupe, Nina Lokar, and Luis Ramos. From the Central Catholic community – Earline Tweedie and Br. John Kachinsky. From New Jersey – Maureen Hagan. From Miami – Fernando Machado. From Chicago – Br. Sam Amos and Br. Brice Byczynski. From Texas – Mary Beth Martin. Evaluations showed that all were excited about the program and eager to get started back in their own communities.