Franciscan Hermitage ‘La Foresta’ with improved facilities

The La Foresta House of Prayer, Franciscan Hermitage now has a new and improved facility in order to continue her service to the people. The new building has been successfully completed since last June, which can accommodate up to 200 people in a day.

Sep 17, 2020

By Linda Edward
The La Foresta House of Prayer, Franciscan Hermitage now has a new and improved facility in order to continue her service to the people. The new building has been successfully completed since last June, which can accommodate up to 200 people in a day.

Archbishop John Wong officially blessed the new building Sep 14, which coincided with the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Archbishop said the blessing day of La Foresta was very appropriate with the feast day, “so that everyone who comes here will receive justification with God’s love and mercy,” he said.

Prior to the Rite of Blessing, Archbishop Wong presided the Feast Day Mass at the chapel together with Kiulu parish priest, Fr Erik Jerome and visiting priest, Fr Charles Chiew from Keningau diocese.

The hermitage was first built in 2000 and was blessed by then Archbishop John Lee. Their main service is to give seminars and guided retreat.

The number of people who use this place is growing each year, both with local and foreign religious and lay retreatants. Thus, the congregation sees the need to grow their service.

Sr Joan Michael, coordinator of the hermitage said, “They (retreatants) have benefited from using this place for prayer. The old building was under termites’ attack.

Therefore, the FSIC councillors at that time under Mother Grace, have decided to build a new building to cater to the growing number of people,” said Sr Joan, who is assisted by Sr Hilda Gundolot.

The hermitage was first built for the sisters to experience a life of contemplation and solitude like that of St Francis of Assisi abiding to the hermitage rules. Fortunately, they also open the place for the public to spend quiet time with God, either personally or guided.

Sr Joan said the growing number of people also revealed that people are experiencing a longing to be nearer to God through a life of prayer. “So we see the need to prepare a place for them and assist in guided retreats, seminars, recollection and counselling,” she added.

The types of retreat offered by La Foresta are as follows: 1) Preached retreat: a silent group retreat with specific theme; 2) Guided retreat: a small group retreat, totally in silence with daily presentations, reflections and optional spiritual guidance; 3) Individual directed retreat: a personal encounter with God in prayer and solitude, in which the individual will see a retreat guide; 4) Personal retreat: the retreatant will make his or her own prayer and reflection schedule, spending time in solitude and great silence; and finally 5) One-day program: a recollection or seminar.

There are nine prayer huts located separately under the canopy of green forest in order to encourage silence and minimal physical contact among retreatants. Meanwhile, the new building consists of six single rooms, three double rooms, one dormitory for six people, one meeting room, one room for small group session, one pastoral counselling room, one room for sale of religious articles, and a mini hall / dining room. The sisters will also prepare meals for retreatants.

For more information, please contact Sr Joan Michael at 016 – 848 7168.––CS

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