RENSSELAER, N.Y. — Men and women interested in sharing their faith and life experiences gathered May 20 near Albany for the inaugural program of the new Franciscan Sojourners (FS) group, formed by supporters of the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat in Western New York.
The Sunday afternoon program provided time to read and reflect on scripture, and to participate in a family-style dinner.
The event’s format was similar to the practice of Franciscan leaders at the Mt. Irenaeus Retreat Center, said Mike Camoin, event organizer.
Mike, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (SBU), has been working since last summer with a planning committee to help incorporate ideologies of the Mt. Irenaeus lifestyle into everyday life.
The initial Albany Sojourners’ gathering offered each participant an opportunity to share what drew him or her to the gathering. Hosts were Marian and Pat Roohan, who reside just outside of Albany in Rensselaer.
“I felt that the mountain has always been a place of spiritual growth, so I was excited to host the mountain in my home,” said Marian. “It has renewed my faith and has brought me on a new and excited journey which includes my family.”
“As a 1985 graduate of Bonaventure and also as a former Capuchin Franciscan friar, I feel that my faith has been deeply formed by the vision of Francis and Clare. Franciscan Sojourners is a perfect way for me to grow in my own faith by sharing faith with others who have been shaped by that same vision,” said Dave Amico, who attended the retreat-like program.
Those who gathered reflected upon such issues as faith, the environment and the future of the Church, with a desire to discover how to hand down their faith to future generations, Mike said.
“My involvement with the Franciscan Sojourners has grown out of a life-long need to better understand the Good News of the Gospel and discover how it applies to life, work and family,” said Mike. “Balancing that with my apparent clear ambivalence toward institutional structures, the Sojourner gathering offered a simple approach to sharing faith and experience with others.”
The gathering included a baby-sitter for couples who brought their children. In the photo are
Living Stones and Strong Commitment Provide Framework
The day after the Rensselaer event, a FS gathering was held in the Rochester, N.Y., area at St. Louis Church in Pittsford. It was organized by Greg Farrell, SBU ’84, and Kevin Purdy, SBU ’04, a member of Students for the Mountain while at SBU.
Joe Aini, who attended the Rensselaer program, said he enjoyed the Sojourner gathering and would like to know more about other Franciscan Sojourner groups.
“I eagerly look forward to future gatherings and hope more folks will join us,” said Dave Amico, a lay ecclesial minister working for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany as associate director in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
The Build with Living Stones; Formation for Franciscan Life and Work literature published by the Franciscan Institute of SBU is serving as the basis for the discussion taking place during Franciscan Sojourner events, according to FS leader Mike Fenn.
Daniel Riley said that he is impressed with the attitudes and the skills of the men and women organizing the FS programs.
“I can see the depth of commitment to spirituality in their discussions,” he said. “Their way of organizing and leading is very much that of a servant leadership style”
The next Sojourner gathering is slated for July 29 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and will be hosted by SBU graduate Denise Romand ’83. Denise, an SBU alumni chapter coordinator for the Capital Region, can be reached for more information via e-mail at email@example.com.
A group of Mt. Irenaeus supporters in Connecticut is planning several FS gatherings for later this year.
Members of the FS organizing team will be meeting at The Mountain over the weekend of Aug. 3 to discuss upcoming Franciscan Sojourner plans and to participate in retreat activities. Many members of the core group met in June for a retreat weekend during which participants discussed Living Stones. According to Mike Fenn, “the consensus was that it worked out very well.
Though it is not required that FS leaders use them, Mike said, that sharing outlines of recommended prayer services is often helpful in the planning of the evening and morning retreats. He added that the FS team is seeking people who are interested in helping arrange upcoming Franciscan Sojourner events.
“I believe we are onto something that’s very important to many people,” Mike said.
Information about the Franciscan Sojourners is available by contacting the Mt. Irenaeus team via Louis McCormick at 585-973-2470 or firstname.lastname@example.org who will direct inquiries to FS leaders.
—- Jocelyn Thomas is the Province’s director of communications.