Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Anna Monica / L’Observateur / April 18, 2000

Lent has been a lucky time for me! I had a chance to take part in “an experience of directed prayer” for the past five weeks. There were about17 of us participating with about six directors. Sr. Geraldine Moran, anative of Ireland, and a member of the Sisters of the Holy Faith, assigned to St. Hubert’s in Garyville by her community for the past ten years, wasin charge.

Garyville residents were eligible to participate in this program and the number of spaces available was eventually filled with a cross section of residents from throughout the parish, East and West Bank. The number ofparticipants eligible depended upon the number of spiritual directors available. The directors were available through the ArchdiocesanSpiritual Center which sponsors this program. Our directors were trainedlay people and several nuns, including Sister Geraldine.

The program was designed for those with a desire to experience sacred scripture and not just study it; for those desiring a more personal relationship with God. Each week participants were guided by a director ata set appointment, either morning, afternoon or evening. In betweensessions each day, we were to spend at least 30 minutes in personal prayer with scripture. The scripture was usually recommended to us byour directors, based on what they discerned to be our need. We got to meetall together at the first session and the last, which was this past Sunday in the Prayer Garden at St. Hubert’s.St. Hubert’s church parish is now officially assigned as a satellite officeof the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center and because of that, we can draw upon assistance from their staff. This retreat was only one program wecan offer in Garyville, according to Sister Geraldine. She and Fr. CharlesCaluda, who barely misses a day of work in the Prayer Garden, have a greater vision for Garyville’s St. Hubert’s to expand as a spiritualitycenter which reaches out and touches and can be touched by anyone in the area having a need to enhance their spiritual life.

For instance, more retreats and days of prayer can be held for different age groups. In one’s own way, the lovely Rosary Walk can be used forprivate or vocal prayer as well as can the beautiful and serene prayer garden in back of it. There are a number of focal points in the prayergarden such as the Stations of the Cross, the Potter’s Wheel and a representation of Jesus and His disciples, to name a few. In the gardenthere is also running water and benches for those who wish to sit in quieter meditation. Whatever forms of prayer a person wishes to use, inthe garden there is some form of biblical art to aid in reflection.

Construction on a new “hermitage house” is nearing completion also.

Situated at the edge of the prayer garden, this is to be a retreat area where a person can come away from the world for a while to be alone for prayerful reflection. The “house” has a small bedroom for rest, a kitchenarea to prepare food and a prayer area. One can step out into the peacefulprayer garden to commune with his God in nature. Anyone can request itsuse and there will be a very nominal fee but the benefits anticipated for the individual are many.

In addition, right across the street is a daily mass chapel if one wishes to pray in that setting. If groups wish to come to the prayer garden they arewelcomed. Recently a large group from Kenner came over and was offeredthe use of the church hall for lunch and restroom facilities. Sister saysthis would be done for any group requesting it. As I have just found out,several local schools have brought their classes to the Prayer Garden for a visit or retreat or prayer.

This is a good thing, an extraordinary thing. In a busy, unforgiving worldlike ours, this is a wonderful place, giving us the opportunity to “come apart” before we fall apart. The use of these facilities in Garyville’sspirituality center is available to individuals, groups and people of all faiths. Sister Geraldine really recommends a walk in the garden, because”they can be where the light shines.” I believe it. The retreat was a greatexperience.

Anna Monica is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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