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Reclaim the Spirit of the Hermitage



Hermitage: from the studio to the design

20/02/2006: France

The “Commission of Marist Places” met for the last time from the 27th to the 29th January. This Commission had been entrusted with the task of “dreaming” about the future for the Hermitage, La Valla, Le Rosey and les Maisonnettes. Constituted in January 2004, the Commission, after a series of gradual meetings over two years, developed a plan so that the “places” which saw the birth of our Institute could conserve the savour of their origins and offer at the same time an opportunity to have an experience of renewal, which will enrich the participants and will benefit the life and apostolate of the Marist world. The reflection of the Commission and the contribution of other groups have led to the determination of the first guidelines of an initial project (blueprint). This material was sent to all the Provincial Councillors, not only so that they could be aware of the process, but also so that they could offer proposals and make observations. The result of this long work was presented to the General Council during the June Plenaries 2005. The General Council then spoke to the General Conference which gave a positive opinion about realising the project.

That’s a resume of the path taken by the Commission. The moment has now arrived to start the work, given that the General Council and the Provincial Council of L’Hermitage have approved the project and defined the modalities of finance. Thus, we will start the second stage which will consist in developing a detailed architectural plan and fixing the cost. Following this, the calendar of works will need to be established according to the priorities and rhythm to be followed; this work will be the responsibility of a new group that will be appointed soon.

The Commission has performed valuable work and the fact that the project has been willingly accepted by the General Council and had the placet of the General Conference makes us hope that the Hermitage will be able to become quickly a privileged place for spreading the Marist charism. There is, however, an important element to which the Commission returned several times and on which depends the definitive success of the project: the future community of the Hermitage. It is a matter of a problem that no architect will be able to resolve and to which no technician will be able to provide a solution. For the Commission, it seemed obvious that if we want to make the Hermitage a museum, it is not perhaps necessary to have a community; well-prepared guides would suffice. But if we want to realise a centre in which, as in the time of Father Champagnat, we can reproduce life – that which Marcellin had initiated – and transmit to brothers the enthusiasm – as Marcellin knew how to do – we must surely invest in people more than in money. As in 1903, the Hermitage could be once more a place for spreading the one and the same spirit: that of Father Champagnat.

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