Sunday, April 19, 2015

Little Way on the Prairies

So, I left off on the blogging for a few days – my week at the St. Therese Institute in Bruno SK was very blessed and wonderful, but also very full indeed, and by the latter days of the week, my energy was pretty much taken up by the life and work there.

I normally do a ‘this week in Madonna House’ wrap-up around the weekend, but since I wasn’t at MH at all, I would rather talk about STI and what I experienced there. I don’t usually highlight places I go and things I do on this blog, but I would like to share a bit about this remarkable place.

The St. Therese Institute for Faith and Mission has been operating since 2007, in a former Ursuline convent in Bruno SK, about one hour west of Saskatoon. It has two aspects, the School of Faith and Mission, and the Healing and Growth Center. I was involved with the first, and so will only mention the second. The Center runs healing retreats and prayer ministry throughout the year, and I have heard nothing but good about it.

I was involved with the school of faith and mission, and was wildly impressed with it. This is a nine month program for young adults of intensive faith formation. As of a year ago, it is a two-year program, although the majority of the students only do the first year, and it is complete unto itself.

The young people live in community. They have a series of courses throughout the year on Catholic doctrine, Scripture, apologetics, spirituality. They have a vibrant life of prayer—morning prayer and Mass, adoration and rosary, praise and worship every day. They have personal individual spiritual and pastoral guidance and accompaniment.

The spirituality is very much the Little Way of St. Therese, with a healthy dose of MH spirituality (Poustinia and People of the Towel and Water are part of the core curriculum). Jim Anderson, the director of the school and a long-time friend of MH, explains that St. Therese teaches us what to live; Catherine Doherty explains how to live it. There is also a strong Ignatian component to the formation, with significant formation on the principles of discernment.

This was my second year out there, offering a week-long class to the second year students on the theology of liturgy and worship. The first six months of the program they have longer ‘semester’ style courses; the last three months they have intensive week-long ones. The first years, for example, had a seminar on ecumenical dialogue and apologetics. This coming week, the first years will have the first of two weeks on Ignatian discernment; the second years will have adult catechetics.

It is a wonderful place! The spirit is lively, joyful, free and fun. The students are a very impressive group—the second years who I was with were engaged, serious, thoughtful, and very sharp.

There are many great things happening in the Canadian Catholic scene right now – CCO, NET ministries, the Companions of the Cross, the Franciscans of Halifax, just to name a few (and, ahem, Madonna House plugging away with our Nazareth life in the midst of them all). But add to the mix St. Therese Institute—a prime example of the New Evangelization, and a serious formator of young Catholics seeking to be part of the New Evangelization. It can easily grow and accommodate many more students than they currently have (about 35 this year between the two years), and I just wanted to share with my blog readers this fine formation program for young Catholic adults on the Canadian prairies.

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