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Notre Dame l’Hermitage Experience

04/04/2012: Italy - Photo gallery

“I rejoiced when I heard them say, let us go to God’s house and at last our feet are standing within your gates, Oh Jerusalem” These echoes from the psalmist could be heard from the heart beats of the Manziana group of Community Animators as we were arriving at Notre Dame l’Hermitage. For the psalmist Jerusalem had great and significance to his faith. “It is there that the tribes of Israel go.” It was the centre of the Jewish faith. Thus l’Hermitage for us is central to our Marist foundation and spirituality.

The first eye catching glimpse of the solidity of the rocks and the buildings reflect our solid foundations both spiritually and physically. Founded on a deep solid structure like the rock of L’Hermitage.  These rocks, walls and river Gier had stories to tell us in the days which followed. All the words from St. Marcellin came to life by looking at the Hermitage upon our arrival. “Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do the builders labour…”

Our experience of this deep and profound pilgrimage was going to be very good and fruitful. In spite of differences in languages and culture, we created our own tower of babel and Marist Brotherhood overcame this challenge. Apart from thescorial group, Brothers Today secretariat represented by Bros. Cesar and Eugene accompanied us in all the activities and we really felt supported and encouraged by the Institute.

The pilgrimage covered areas like the tour of the house, looking for the treasure, a pilgrimage to Marhles, a walk to Le Rosey, sharing in groups, the memorare in the snow and Montagne experiences. On one of the days we had a very rich sharing on the lives of our early Brothers by Bro. Alain Delorme. We also visited Maisonnete and walked to La Valla, prayed at Our Lady of Pity and walked back to L’Hermitage. In response to our last Chapter’s message we went to Genève, Switzerland to visit our Brothers, to see the work they are doing for the protection of Children’s Rights and also toured the UN and lastly visited the Lake.

Among the topics covered was the one on Marist Family led by Bro. Andre Lanfrey. After the sharing we went to visit La Neyliere where there is the Museums of Colin and Oceania and in the evening we had a meeting with L’Hermitage community. We also had a chance to visit Fourviere in Lyons, where Fr. Champagnat and the other Marist Priests were ordained and made a pledge to form the Society of Mary at the foot of Our Lady of Fourviere. We had the Eucharist there and also made our pledge as a group to live the charism of the Marist Brothers.

When all had been said and done we had a day set aside for the retreat and had prayers in the cemetery and the chapel in the woods. In brief this is what the pilgrimage covered. All of us came back feeling impelled to spread and share the spirit of Hermitage with all our Brothers. Everyone felt Champagnat’s spirit alive flowing from the river Gier to the rest of the Marist world and incarnating itself in all the Marists of Champagnat worldwide today.

Like the psalmist in psalm 122 and for the love of our Brothers and Lay Marists of Champagnat we will say, “Peace be upon you L’Hermitage!” For the love of the Institute we will pray for your well-being.

A lot of gratitude to the secretariat of Brothers Today, L’Hermitage community, Escorial Community, all the Brothers and the General Administration for allowing us to have this great experience in our Marist journey.

By Bro. Fortune F. Chakasara.FMS.

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