WEST CLARKSVILLE, N.Y. — The Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat Community held a “Partners in Life and Ministry” gathering earlier this month, the first of several planned for this year.
At the April 10 evening program, participants reflected on their mission, remembering the ways in which God moves in our life and calls us further as Franciscan men and women to “go out to the world” and “join with Jesus Christ to make all things new,” according to Michelle Marcellin, a staff member at the Mountain.
At the gathering, attendees discussed various aspects of the philosophy and goals of the Mountain. After holding small group discussions, the 26 participants met in the Mt. Irenaeus chapel.
According to Tim Shaffer, some attendees mentioned the importance of the Mountain being a place that influences people by opening their eyes to see what we couldn’t see before.
“Through ministry, we are invited to be active participants and not passive bystanders,” Tim said. “The Mountain is warm in contrast to many church setting that feel cold to people.”
One participant, a freshman at St. Bonaventure University, said she felt drawn to be at the gathering because of a dream.
“She actually dreamt of coming to the Mountain barefoot from her home,” Tim said. “There is a deeper reality or consciousness of why we come here.”
Daniel Riley, guardian for the Mountain, said, “We affirmed again that night that there are so many of us who share in our life and ministry, and we are blessed by our companionship with one another.”
“Franciscans have always been border-crossers in their yearning for brotherhood,” he said, adding that the group’s leaders hope to gather at least three times a year so that “everyone is able to hear one another’s voices.”
Dan pointed out that, according to the document from the 2006 general chapter noting Emmaus, Franciscans “are mendikins of meaning whose mission today takes the form of dialogue.”
Mountain Goes on the Road to Five Cities
The Mountain team recently visited five cities as part of its Mountain on the Road programs. During March and April, the team of friars and students visited Denver, Colo., and Chicago, Ill., as well as Philadelphia, and Binghamton and Rochester, N.Y.
They were a phenomenal success, Dan said.
“We had 106 people in Binghamton and 62 in Rochester this past Monday evening,” he said. “Both had a wonderful mix of ages.”
These programs offer to friends of The Mountain and of St. Bonaventure spirituality through discussions and scripture.
The Mountain on the Road programs were instituted in the early 1990s as a way to extend the philosophy of the mountain into the everyday lives.
The time together allows for both the ministry team and the participants, who might be experiencing a Mountain on the Road for the first time, to regain the knowledge of their significant role in the church as they continue on their spiritual journey, according to the Mountain’s Web site.
Dan said that that the Mountain on the Road program is genuinely a heart and eye-opening encounter. “The Lord speaks with us on the road,” Dan said.