The Hermitage Experience

Cidouane Joseph Around the Province

Our novitiate program allows one to experience community and the spiritual life in an intense way. Besides regular days of recollection and integration seminars, etc., the novices recently had the experience of living in a hermitage for two weeks.

During this time, they followed the Rule that St. Francis of Assisi wrote for hermitages. The experience included being alone except for times at Mass, and having the humility of being served by our fellow novices who looked after our needs – especially by preparing meals and bringing them to us at the hermitage. St. Francis expected the friars to make holy the hours of the day with prayer and meditation.

Recently, I had this experience of hermitage at the Franciscan Sisters of Aston, Pa. I must say that I enjoyed it very much.

Although I like community, I didn’t mind being alone for most the time during these weeks. There was plenty to read and more than enough opportunity to pray and to get in touch with what was going on within me during my novitiate year and in preparation for simple vows this June.

The experience also helped me understand the contemplative element of the Franciscan charism. I am glad I had the opportunity during this year and hope to be able to repeat it at another time, or every year if possible.

I thank my novice master, Tom Gallagher, and his assistant, Flavian Walsh, for everything they are doing to help me enjoy my novitiate year.

May God bless them abundantly!