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Developing a Community Plan

23/12/2008: General House

Our readers have undoubtedly been following the changes which are taking place at the Hermitage week by week. Up to recently the pictures have been mainly of the demolition process, but now we have begun to see the first pictures of the new structure in its early stages. As was true in Saint Marcellin’s time, so now our superiors are building a community at the same time that they are fashioning a home. The community members will be the ones who bring to life all that will unfold in the buildings. In view of the importance of their role, the members of the future Hermitage community came together in Rome from December 9 to 13, 2008, for their second meeting. The goal of the meetings has been for the community members to get to know one another and to be prepared to take on the tasks that they will assume once their assignments begin.

The meeting was attended by Brothers Benito Arbués, Jean-Pierre Destombes, Miro Reckziegel, Neville Salomon, and Allan De Castro; by lay women Annie Girka and Marie Élida Quiñone; and by the Argentinean couple Ernesto and Norma Spagnoli. The meeting was facilitated by Brothers Garcia Sobrado, Vicar General, Albert André and Josep Marie Soteras. The community will be composed of eight Brothers and four lay people. Absent from the meeting were Brothers Diogène Musine (visa difficulties) and George Palandre (obliged to spend a few days in hospital for heart condition). To round out the desired number of twelve community members, one Brother will have to be appointed from the Hermitage Province.

The first part of the meetings was given over to an update about the Hermitage. The most significant information concerned the official blessing of the construction site. The benediction was carried out by the Saint Etienne Bishop in the presence of the lead architects of the project, the Hermitage Provincial and other participants.

The plan which the future community has to develop envisions three principal lines of force: the Her-mitage as a welcome center, as a center of Marist formation, and as means for spreading interest in Marist spirituality and making it real.

The participants first shared their feelings as to how each one of them would have to adjust, as indivi-dual and as member of the community, in facing the challenges which they will face in living at the Hermitage. Following upon this first exercise, the group began to sketch out a community life plan, as a way of spelling out the sort of community which they desire to create together. As a help in the process, they heard the testimony of Josep Buetas and Mercè Caminal, two people who lived in the Brothers’ community of Chaco, Paraguay for one year.

On the formation side of things, the «itineraries» - both personal and community - began to assume definite shape as based upon charism and mission. Such itineraries would offer to the people who come to the Hermitage the possibility of growing humanly and spiritually by following a certain path, some-times physical (the Champagnat Route), sometimes interior (reflection upon the frescoes). Doing so would become a way of drawing parallels between their lives and the life of Marcellin.

Some thought was given to the Ignatian thirty-day retreat, modified to a Marist Brothers’ format. The retreat would be ten days, and have as its inspiration “Water from the Rock.” Consideration was also given to spiritual experiences lasting one full day only. Brother Jaume Parés shared with the group his experience with people who spend time at Las Avellanes, guiding them through various spiritual itineraries.

On the last day of the meeting some practical points were studied. One such point concerned the intensive French language beginner’s course that three lay people and three Brothers will make from February to November 2009 in France.

The work that was accomplished during the meeting was one more response to the hopes that both Brothers and lay people have in creating the new Hermitage.

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