By S. Mary Margaret McKenzie in collaboration with Brian Mogren
Five years ago in our long range planning we envisioned a third house. This was inspired by our need to respond to many persons who were drawn to enter into our neighborhood ministry more than into our monastic lifestyle. This would be their house more than ours and could accommodate both men and women for overnight retreats or hospitality. It would be called the St. Jane House.
Where would it be, and how could we maintain and direct it? Clearly this would have to be God’s “make-over.”
When Brian Mogren heard what we were mulling and that we were looking to rent rather than buy, he offered his newly built, beautiful home on Emerson—his commitment to the neighborhood. He had given up his job as graphic designer for Target to give his time and talent full time to the Northside. Plus, his instincts had already directed him to and steeped him in Salesian spirituality.
Under Brian’s direction and gift of making dynamic connections we find ourselves sponsoring and at times participating in outreach ministry that embraces:
• The practice of centering prayer
• Support in living discerning lives
• Bringing together for dialogue those who need a neutral space
• Healing for those suffering because of violence and killing
• Openness to forgiveness and reconciliation
• Offering retreats to a variety of groups and individuals
• The home-base for Vis Companions
• Discussion groups around inspiring books and films
• Encouraging and developing lay leadership
• A safe place for teens to be developed as leaders
• Urban immersion for college and high school groups
• A safe place for people to connect across differences to discover our common humanity
All of this is fertile ground for the growth of Salesian spirtuality and holy ground for contemplative presence and hospitality.
As we ready ourselves to celebrate the 5th anniversary of St. Jane House, we are anticipating a new portrait of St. Jane by our dear brother and friend Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS. We also see more clearly what God has created out of our visioning—a very specifically focused Salesian Spirituality Center. The primary sources and resources offered are persons relating and inter-relating—our gift to neighboring that has even gone global with the heartfelt use of social media to Live Jesus.