The Nine Days’ Hermitage Experience
Those who said “history repeats itself” never lied. In 2010 we did our retreat to mark the end of our Novitiate in Rushooka. Four years later, we are back at Rushooka for a hermitage experience marking the end of our Franciscan year.
The date 9th May 2014 saw the 5 young men: Alexis NIYONGABO, Victor NKUNDAYEZU, Stanley MUHEKIWA, Célestin NTAGANIRA and Désiré NIYONKURU flocking to Rushooka for Hermitage experience. Within 16 hours the whole squad plus the hermitage master Br. Mike OYOO, had arrived. The warm welcome by the brothers staying in Rushooka laid by the guardian Fr. Agapitus added to the positive environment. After supper, Br. Mike gave out the program of how we shall live our hermitage experience in the 9 days (10-19th May 2014). The handouts given to each one of us plus his explanations summarized well what hermitage experience is all about. In short, hermitage experience is a time to practice the role of Martha and Mary (Lazarus’ sisters) as found in scriptures. The time of practicing both active and contemplative life. The time to practice solitude and preaching life as our founder St. Francis of Assisi used to do. We made groups whereby some of us played the role of Martha (Mothers) and others the one of Mary (Sons). The mothers cooked and took care of any kind of need for the sake of their sons who were only to seat at the feet of the Lord. Each one of us had to taste from both of these two different but complementing cups.
Everything started at midnight with Matins. The first day it was not easy to wake up at such hour for some of us who are devoted to “our lady of the pillow” (who enjoy sleep) but we managed. The daily routine included matins, morning prayer, Mass, breakfast, mid-morning prayer, midday prayer, lunch, mid-afternoon prayer, evening prayer supper, night prayer and of course adoration was there in full.
In conclusion, we declare it to be a great time of experiencing the life of St. Francis and his first companions. Rushooka has become our St. Damiano and Portiuncula, it was the opportunity to practice the hermitage rule. Though challenged by the tight program of being close to our Lord through prayers, we found it VERY POSITIVE. On 19th May we finished our Hermitage Experience.
This article was written by;
Br. Célestin NTAGANIRA & Br. Stanley MUHEKIWA
and posted on our website by;
Br. Conrad MUTAYOBA