Introductory Note:

On Thursdays, we like to share Renovaré news with you, whether drawing your attention to books and articles we think deserve your notice, or pulling back the curtain a little on what we’re up to with various Renovaré initiatives. Today, we’re posting a bit from our students’ responses to their time at a Renovaré Institute residency. Our Boston cohort just experienced their first gathering, and we were given their permission to share.

Renovaré Team

Our Boston cohort gathered from October 3 – 9 in Santa Barbara, CA for their first residency of the Renovaré Institute (RI). Each RI cohort is kept to around 40 students. We designate a host city, but our students end up participating from all over North America (and usually a few from overseas). The Renovaré Institute is an intense 2‑year program in Christian Spiritual Formation that seeks to balance rigorous academics with enriching experiential practices. At the end of the program, each student completes a unique project that uses his or her gifts and sphere of influence to share what’s been learned with at least 100 other people. 

It’s nearly impossible to convey the deep sense of community that arises almost immediately once our cohorts participate in their first residencies. Students come to the RI from diverse cultural, educational, vocational, and family backgrounds, but each has the heart of a pilgrim seeking the with-God life. As it turns out, that is all you really need. Here are some of their candid statements about different aspects of the residency.

The Teaching Sessions

Trevor Hudson was our primary teacher for Course I: The Dynamics of the Person and the Kingdom of God. Gary Moon (the original Director of Renovaré Institute) also taught. Carolyn Arends, our Director of Education, provided daily context and the final lecture on developing a Rule of Life.

Student responses include:

Simply amazing. I have never heard such depth and clarity. It actually gives me hope that change in my life and others is actually possible. Thank you and I intend to continue on the journey to the heart of Jesus.
The amount of content was perfect for my learning enough to push, but not so much as to overwhelm. Trevor’s facilitation was simply supernatural and his level of authenticity and transparency helped me to experience the love of Christ. I also appreciated Gary’s presentations and his unique presentation style and the clips he brought. It was simply a joy and a delight to learn. 

The Praxis Sessions

Kai Nilsen and Regina Moon facilitated our experiential sessions, including Ignatian exercises, morning and evening prayers, and daily communion. Carolyn and her guitar helped us embody what we were learning in singing, and we also were delighted to bring in a trio for a Taizé service.

Student responses include:

Appreciated how themes ran throughout the day from morning chapel to lectures to formation activities, even eucharist. Music was fabulous!!!
Loved Taizé for its reverent, contemplative, and spiritual qualities.
The timing and placement in the curriculum design was wonderful. It served as a modeling of a life rhythm and every one of them was timely and engaging.… You could feel the love energy — God’s presence!

The Takeaway

We asked our Boston students about their most positive experience during the week. While there were kind references to the teaching and praxis sessions, the overwhelming theme of this response is summed up in the following quotes from our students:

The relationships built with my fellow student members and seeing faculty members who actually DO what is taught. That, to my cynical mind was deeply moving. Thank you. It gives me hope for myself.

Kingdom living and laughing. It was so encouraging to be around so many like-minded people! The beauty of the place and the people leaves memories for a lifetime.

Community, authenticity, and love. How glad we are to be associated with the Renovaré Institute and the fascinating students who attend. 

You can learn more about the Renovaré Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation at our website.