Introductory Note:

This spring there have been not one but two alumni gatherings of Renovaré Institute graduates. We were pleased to post a report from the UK gathering in April, and today we’d like to offer you a glimpse into the Colorado Springs retreat that took place in May. I was able to join the latter group for an afternoon, and I can report firsthand that the bond that is forged among students who share two years together in spiritual formation is as intense as it is beautiful. I think you’ll get an inspiring sense of the goings on by reading this report from one of the retreat’s organizers, Theressa McMorris. Enjoy!

Carolyn Arends
Director of Education, Renovaré

Chris­tian­i­ty means com­mu­ni­ty through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, sin­gle encounter or the dai­ly fel­low­ship of years, Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty is only this. We belong to one anoth­er only through and in Jesus Christ.Diet­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer in Life Together

Near the clos­ing of the San­ta Bar­bara cohort of the Ren­o­varé Insti­tute (RI), a few stu­dents plot­ted, planned and aimed for hope. We were unable to con­ceive of our RI Com­mu­ni­ty com­ing to an end, for we belong one to anoth­er. After two years of cir­cuitous twists, road­blocks and a del­uge of emails, we gath­ered togeth­er at the Fran­cis­can Renew­al Cen­ter in Col­orado Springs for an alum­ni retreat. 

Dur­ing our time togeth­er, we had sched­uled vis­i­tors, as well as a delight­ful pop-in. Chris Hall, Ren­o­varé Pres­i­dent, and Car­olyn Arends, Ren­o­varé Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion, joined us to share about the grow­ing Ren­o­varé com­mu­ni­ty and to lis­ten to the thoughts of Insti­tute Grad­u­ates. Richard Fos­ter unex­pect­ed­ly stopped by to share about his excit­ing hap­pen­ings and future plans. He and Chris even joined us for an exer­cise in the prac­tice of sub­mis­sion that appeared clos­er to a jit­ter­bug! (Reports remain unclear). 

Guid­ed by Jan John­son, we delved into com­mu­ni­ty with a gath­er­ing of strangers and friends from four dif­fer­ent cohorts. Togeth­er we entered a very famil­iar cir­cle with a table in the mid­dle to take part in an RI litur­gy called lay­ing the altar.” A cul­ture shared, we held silent, sacred space as each per­son, one by one, shared their per­son­al sto­ry of God’s active pres­ence, and sur­ren­dered to the altar an item that sym­bol­ized their jour­ney. Strangers began to look more like friends and fel­low dis­ci­ples of Christ. 

Shar­ing din­ner, a bril­liant deci­sion was made to pile in our cars and mean­der to the Gar­den of the Gods at sun­set. It is uncer­tain whether a new prac­tice of dri­ving the labyrinth was ini­ti­at­ed, or whether one of our dri­vers was sim­ply talk­ing more than steer­ing. Old tra­di­tions con­tin­ued and new ones were begun, and the day closed with friends old and new gath­er­ing to share mem­o­ries, sto­ries and laughter. 

The next morn­ing began with pray­ing The Breast­plate of St. Patrick. We bound unto our­selves the strong Name of the Trin­i­ty,” which pre­pared us to spend time — togeth­er and alone — reflect­ing and med­i­tat­ing upon the real­i­ty of being per­son­al­ly loved by God. Ven­tur­ing into this love, Igna­t­ian med­i­ta­tion trans­port­ed us to an expe­ri­ence of Peter step­ping out of the boat as he ven­tured towards Jesus. 

Prac­tic­ing this love in com­mu­ni­ty, we entered the dis­ci­pline of con­fes­sion. Togeth­er we unbur­dened our hearts and bound them one to anoth­er, which allowed us to ven­ture even deep­er into life togeth­er. We asked how our lives might be dra­mat­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent if there were no fear and we could trust God for every­thing. Trust­ing this Jesus in and among us—for Chris­t­ian Com­mu­ni­ty is only this—an after­noon was carved out for inten­tion­al prayer, thin­ning the veil as we sought the Lord in uni­ty of belief. We became one, now no longer strangers but friends, shar­ing the body and blood of Christ. No longer four cohorts but one com­mu­ni­ty, through Christ and in Christ. We closed our time at Glen Eyrie Cas­tle, where Dal­las Willard had taught the Den­ver cohort. Shar­ing com­mu­nion and a lec­tio of the week­end, we reflect­ed on our grow­ing com­mu­ni­ty and our expe­ri­ence of the King­dom in and among us us: Jesus. 

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

View Selections & Learn More >