By Nancy Phillips, Winnipeg MB, Growing in Wisdom coordinator and Sarah Donnelly, Growing in Wisdom administrator and Queen’s House program coordinator
Several years ago, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, created a program out of the Oblate School of Theology (OST), San Antonio, Texas, called Forest Dwelling: Spirituality for Our Wisdom Years.
After completing this program, and with Fr. Ron Rolheiser’s encouragement, we created a sister program which we called Growing in Wisdom: Seeking Deeper Generativity. Fr. Ron expressed an interest that programs such as Forest Dwelling take root in many countries, and this is our unique (largely, but not completely) Canadian response.
The program was launched in September 2021 with 71 participants, and ended with 64 participants – 55 of whom gathered June 13-15 at Queen’s House in Saskatoon for a Graduation Days celebration. The rest of the group joined us online, via Zoom.
Over the past two years, nine Elder Circle Groups, with six to nine participants in each group, met monthly. A book study took place every month.Our five-day intensives took place in September 2021, February and September 2022, and February 2023.
Our faculty included educators from OST and elsewhere in Canada and the United States, with Fr. Ron giving us two presentations during every intensive. Our participants came from British Columbia to Ontario, with several from the USA.
We are hoping to offer Growing in Wisdom again to a second cohort from September 2023 to May 2025. We need at least 60 participants in order to launch this program.
All those interested are invited to visit our website: www.growinginwisdom.ca for more information.
On the website you will see two videos, one from Fr. Ron, and the other from a recent ‘Come and Learn More’ gathering in late June – watching this recording is a very helpful way for those considering the program to meet our graduates, and learn more about the program. Registration links are on the website. Thank you so much for considering this invitation.
Words fail us when we try to explain the immense privilege it has been to give shape to this program; to watch new soul friendships form among our participants; to hear people say, “I am no longer afraid to age and die;” to see creative expression in mandala drawing from those who didn’t know the meaning of the term; and to watch us giggle as we stretched and moved during the body breaks after an intense time on Zoom!
All of these moments speak to the miracle of how community can form – even online; community that is thoughtful, wondering, daring, curious and respectful. What a wonderful way to bring a small measure of goodness and healing to a world sorely in need of both.
Video of conversation with Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, from the www.growinginwisdom.ca website: