Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Mud bricks and Ministry
This place is pure poetry. It is called the Hermitage of St. Bernadine of Siena, located in Stroud, NSW, Australia. I came here for the Provincial chapter meeting March 28-April 2. the meetings were useful and interesting, as such meetings go. but what was really great is this place: built in 1980 by dozens of volunteers is is constructed of thousands of hand made mud bricks. The site itself was slated to be a garbage dump on the edge of town, but the brothers and sisters were able to re-claim it. The moved onto a bare, rubbish-strewn, treeless site and began making bricks. The dedication attracted thousands of people. It is the kind of place that really grabs my imagination. Think of it as a metaphor for the Franciscan life: inhabiting unwanted areas and making them lovely, turning mud into beautiful homes, living in and on and with the earth. The brothers who live here offer the place for retreats and quiet days, for groups, but mostly for individuals looking to get away. St. Francis depended on regular times of retreat and withdrawal in the wilderness, living in caves and wandering in the forests.
Pictured at the right are some of the pioneers who built the Hermitage. From left to right: Br. Brian, Isabel, Trevor, Br. Bruce-Paul,Gwen, Alfed BoonKong. In front Br. Joseph (he is a novice and wasn't a brother in 1980).