Scandale (Italy). Mary Help of Christians School of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Soverato, Catanzaro, Southern Province of Our Lady of Good Counsel (IMR), each year experiences a time of spirituality in preparation for Easter. This year the choice was to ‘go out’, to broaden their gaze to other realities of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the Church.

On 13 April 2022, students from the fourth Primary to the fifth Lyceum, reached St. Domenic Savio Community of the FMA in Scandale, at Holy Cross Hermitage, to reflect on the life of Jesus starting from the icons. The students experienced that ‘in the desert’ the Lord speaks to each one.

In welcoming the group, the Animator Sr. Rosetta, illustrated the characteristics of the place on which the Hermitage stands, and focused on three key points to help them understand the value of this reality:

Why a Hermitage?

  • To respond to a strong need for spirituality felt by the young people of the Province of Crotone and Calabria, by committed lay groups, and by people looking for a secluded place in which to find recollection, silence, prayer, and accompaniment on the path of spiritual growth.
  • To bring those who frequent it closer to the richness of the Word of God.
  • To offer the possibility of formative itineraries for young people, animators, catechists, and families.
  • To foster experiences of shared life with the FMA Community, with volunteers, with priests, with those who have made the choice to put themselves at the service of the young.

What is life like at the Hermitage?

  • The Community is made up of four FMA who, together with the priests, volunteers, and young people of the area, commit themselves to living a simple and moderate lifestyle, and above all, to building fraternity according to the Gospel.
  • The Community is there to welcome and animate the various groups who come to the Hermitage for days of retreat and Courses of Spiritual Exercises.
  • Since the Hermitage must be a ‘luminous beacon’, it is essential for the FMA to live in the places of the young. For this reason, from Monday to Thursday they reach a parish in the northern outskirts of Crotone for the animation of the Oratory Youth Center, catechesis, liturgical animation, and summer camp for children.

The beauty of the Hermitage

  • Contact with and listening to nature, the beauty of the icons … everything speaks of God. Whoever arrives at the Hermitage realizes that in every corner there are icons ‘written’ by artists, but also by young people who over the years have been at the Hermitage.
  • A young seminarian, Matteo Scalera, after having attended various courses in iconography, expressed his talent through various icons.
  • The icon representing Pentecost is of unique beauty. The author is Nathanaele Thuma, who spent some time at the Hermitage in his search for God and left as a gift some icons born from this search.

The boys and girls of the Soverato School divided themselves into groups in the places where the icons are present, accompanied by two FMA from the Community and the seminarian, to retrace the strong moments of the Passion – Death – Resurrection and Pentecost. The attention of the children and young people highlighted their pleasure in deepening their understanding of iconography and the amazement with which they allowed themselves to be challenged.

At the end, they had the opportunity to savor a packed lunch in the open spaces, enjoying nature, the presence of animals, and the fraternity among them. The experience of this day, spent in joy and simplicity, gave them the opportunity to live the beauty of communion in the Church, of art, and of nature that speak of God.


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