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Mt. Irenaeus Team Visits Siena, Hosts Franciscan Sojourners Retreat

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Alumni and students gathered at Siena College here for a recent prayer service led by representatives of the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat in a “Mountain on the Road” event.

Approximately 30 people attended the Jan. 26 event near Albany, N.Y. The group comprised recent graduates and senior alumni from St. Bonaventure University (SBU), as well as Joseph Kotula, OFM, from Mt. Irenaeus in West Clarksville, N.Y. 

An opening prayer and scripture reading was followed by sharing and faith formation in small groups, according to attendee Mike Camoin of Albany, N.Y. Daniel Riley, OFM, president of Mt. Irenaeus, then celebrated Mass.

Dan, Joe, and several SBU graduates and students had driven to Mt. Irenaeus from Manhattan after attending a reception for SBU alumni at St. Francis Friary on West 31st Street the night before.

Camoin, an SBU alumnus and member of the Franciscan Sojourners (FS), an evolving group of Mt. Irenaeus supporters, said that a similar gathering is planned for the spring.

Since early 2007, Franciscan Sojourners have been working to bring the philosophy of the friars and their style of prayer “down from the Mountain” by initiating gatherings similar to the Mountain on the Road events. FS members gathered Feb. 17 at Mt. Irenaeus for a weekend retreat to discuss 2008 plans.

Michael Fenn of Buffalo, N.Y., an FS leader, said the retreat drew people with a common goal in a comfortable and inspirational environment.

“We talk often by e-mail and through phone meetings, so it was good to share our ideas in person,” he said. “The atmosphere at Mt. Irenaeus is so beautiful – both physically and spiritually.”

“While we hunger to bring the spirit of the Mountain into our daily lives, it’s always important to make the trip back to the mountain road for some time to reflect with one another until we are once again ‘sent forth’ by Christ Jesus.”

The Sojourners will be meeting again this summer, at a retreat the first weekend of August. Interested participants should contact Mt. Irenaeus for information. 

In addition to live events, the Franciscan Sojourners group provides “virtual” events that capture a sense of spirituality through use of the Internet. Through the Mt. Irenaeus blog, the Sojourners have posted six seasonal reflections on the Mountain’s Web site.  The next will be posted in early March, Fenn said. Rather than comments on a reading, this one will be more of an e-discussion, he said. The next collaborative reflection, with a friar and a layperson, is planned for Holy Week.

Information about the Mountain’s communities can be found on its Web site.