Mt. Irenaeus Reaches Near and Far in New Ministries

Robert Struzynski Around the Province

WEST CLARKSVILLE, N.Y. — Responding to emerging needs and challenges, Mt. Ireaneus Franciscan Mountain Retreat has recently offered some new programs.  The first was an evening on May 20 for healthcare workers in the southwestern New York area.

Vic Vena, a member of the board of trustees of the Mountain, made an appeal at the last board meeting for help in fulfilling a need that he felt was very strong in the community — taking care of the caretakers. He asked if the Mountain could do anything and the response was a resounding “yes.”

Invitations were sent out to come to the Mountain for an evening of rest and re-creation and the response was phenomenal.  More than 25 people involved in healthcare — doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, even the director of Cuba Memorial Hospital –came together to rest, enjoy each other, pray and reflect on their lives.  The result was an evening filled with joy and important personal sharing among professionals willing to discuss their needs.

The next step in this important Mt. Irenaeus gathering will be July 22 to further grow the healing community that is already real.  The evening will once again include prayer, sharing, enjoying the food that shows up with the participants, and the joy of being together in God.

Vocation and Contemplative Retreats 
From June 15 to 17, a unique retreat tited “Being Rooted: Attending to our vocational journeys” was led by Fr. Cyprian Consiglio. The retreat was sponsored by University Ministries of St. Bonaventure University and included representatives from colleges involved in Lilly Grant Projects.  Participants came from colleges as far away as  Nebraska (Hastings College) and as nearby as St. Bonaventure in Allegany.   There were a total of 13 participants.

On Friday evening, Cyprian introduced participants into the universal call to contemplation by way of sharing his musical talent in concert.  On Saturday, Cyprian took us through three conferences (which included meditation and prayer) entitled “Body,” Soul,”, and “Spirit.” On Sunday , we concluded with a reflection on “Francis and Peacemaking” led by Daniel Riley.

Susan Hawkins-Willding, assistant director of the Lilly Project at Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio, summed the experience of the weekend up well with the phrase,” A phenomenal renewal.”

Sandwiched in between these two new events was the annual contemplative retreat.  Poor Clares, Allegany Ritiro Franciscans, friars, lay people and our visiting retreat master Fr. Cyprian OSB came to share their personal journeys as contemplatives and enjoyed the quiet, community and solitude of Mt. Irenaeus.

Upcoming Events
The varied summer events at Mt. Irenaeus include:
June 22 to 24: Retreat for St. Bonaventure University alumni and friends organizing the Franciscan Sojourners program
June 24: Partners in Life and Ministry Gathering with Mass and a meal
June 27: An evening of recreation and prayer with Joseph Kotula
July 18: An evening of recreation and prayer with Edward Coughlin
August 3 to 5: Retreat for planners of Franciscan Sojourners program

— Fr. Bob, a former instructor at St. Bonaventure University, lives at Mt. Irenaeus ,where he helps with retreats and also does prison ministry.