Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hermits for Today

Before my ordination I was blessed to spend a week with the Hermits of Bethlehem in Chester, NJ. It is a beautiful secluded spot in northern New Jersey that I had never heard of before. I was a bit nervous to spend a week with "hermits" and had not idea what to expect. It turned out to be a remarkably prayerful experience and a wonder way to prepare myself for ordination. The founder of the community was a diocesan priest from Paterson, NJ named Fr. Eugene Romano. He is a very grandfatherly man who is exceptionally welcoming. His story and the story of Bethlehem Hermitage can be seen on the video. It provides a history of the place and a brief exploration of how the hermits live and why they chose to do so. The program emphasizes that the hermits do not seek to isolate themselves from a suffering humanity. Rather, through prayer and daily sacrifice, they seek to serve the Church and to be a spiritual support for all who are actively involved in carrying out the mission of Jesus. I have occasionally driven up to the hermitage just to make a visit to the chapel and to pray. It reminds me of my ordination retreat and the challenge to live my Salesian priesthood with devotion. I hope you enjoy this half hour in a hermitage!

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