Franciscan Sojourners Plan Winter Retreat

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

WEST CLARKSVILLE, N.Y. — The Mt. Irenaeus community has invited friends for a weekend of companionship and prayer, Feb. 6 to 8.

The Franciscan Sojourners, based at the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat in Western New York, welcome newcomers to its annual winter retreat.

Those interested in participating in the February retreat should contact Mt. Irenaeus at 585-973-2470. The weekend will include both evening and morning prayer and reflection time, as well as an opportunity to “go down in the valley” and attend a basketball game at nearby St. Bonaventure University during homecoming weekend. The weekend will conclude with Sunday morning Mass, according to a recent e-mail announcement.

Details about the weekend can be obtained through Michael Fenn of Buffalo, N.Y., a founder and leader of the sojourners, at

The group continues to build on the momentum it has developed since forming in 2006.

For more than two years, members of the community have worked to spread the message of Mt. Irenaeus to their communities. Members are all affiliated with SBU in Allegany, N.Y. They are either SBU alumni or relatives and friends of SBU alums.

The goal of the Sojourners, as stated in its brochure, is to “follow the Gospel manner of life and ministry of Mt. Irenaeus by committing to their own ongoing personal formation, and extending the work and spirit of the mountain to their families and communities.” The brochure says, “As we transition from one phase of life to the next, Sojourners sense that one never graduates form the Mountain, but rather, is sent forth to make all things new by creating and nourishing communities that transcend particular places.”

SBU students have a good sense of the group, said Daniel Riley, OFM, director of Mt, Irenaeus. He said, “I tell the university that the Sojourners community offers ongoing formation to those who participate.”

Knowledge of the group is spreading as Dan travels with the Mt. Irenaeus Mountain on the Road team, and introduces the Sojourners. Last fall, the well-attended Mountain on the Road programs were held in New England. This spring, they will be in upstate New York, Austin, Texas, Florida and Cleveland.

01-22-09-irenaeus-lgSojourner information is available on the Mt. Irenaeus Web site, as well as in the Christmas 2008 issue of the Mt. Irenaeus newsletter.

An updated edition of the group’s brochure will be available this spring, Fenn said. It will be displayed on the SBU campus as well as at alumni events  as a way to publicize this evolving ministry.

The Sojourners are planning 2009 gatherings in various geographic areas. The first will be at the home of an SBU alumnus in Connecticut, at what has been nicknamed by the Sojourners as “Mt. Irenaeus East.”

A St. Bonaventure student  was quoted in the recent newsletter saying that “he hospitality and generosity were truly exemplary of how I want to run by houseold one day. ”

Franey Donovan, a member of the Mt. Irenaeus Board of Directors, and the Sojourner’s planning team, said, “We are a fledging group, but getting a lot of attention.”

The planning team meets by conference calls. Before official business is discussed, Sojourners read and discuss a timely Gospel text.

Participants are planning to expand the community to include alumni of Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., as well as graduates of other Catholic colleges.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.