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MEDWAY — At a recent dedication Mass for the Spiritual Life Center in Medway, Archbishop Seán O’Malley commended the center and the Marian Community that runs it.
During his homily, the archbishop encouraged members of the community to follow Jesus closely and evangelize. All people need to step back from the noise of life to hear and answer God’s questions, he said. In order to do this, people need a sacred space, like the center in Medway, where they can make time for God, he added. About 300 people attended the Mass on Aug. 12.
After two years of construction, the center opened on Oct. 12, 2003, the Feast of Our Lady Pilar. However, it wasn’t until June 25 of this year that The Marian Community received a decree from the archbishop naming them a private association of Christ’s faithful.
"It brings us into a more formal relationship with the Archdiocese of Boston," said David Thorp, assistant director of the center.
The Marian Community offers many activities through their center including conferences, Bible study, eucharistic adoration, pilgrimages, prayer meetings, concerts, plays and retreats. The chapel is open for prayer weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The 109-acre grounds are open every day from dawn to dusk and is open to all.
"All of our programs are open to anyone who would like to come," said Thorp, former director of the archdiocese's Office of Evangelization. People feel at peace at the center, he said.
On Jan. 6, 1993, Sister Margaret Catherine Sims, CSJ received direction from God to found a lay community, built around a spiritual life center. The first members made their commitment in May 1993. The community now boasts about 115 members who commit themselves to attend weekly prayer meetings, fast weekly and attend Mass beyond the normal obligation.
Members of the community are also called to reconcile — with God, themselves and others — and to help others do the same.
According to Thorp members have a mission to be “ambassadors for reconciliation” and “to do that by loving others and living a life of love.”
Thorp was made an honorary member at the first pledge in 1997. He and his wife joined the community in June 2003. Prospective members must spend at least a year of discernment participating in weekly prayer meetings, a life in the spirit seminar and a 40-hour fast. Thorp enjoys the support he receives from other members who provide examples of great faith but also call him to constantly grow deeper in his faith.
"It's been a comfort and a challenge," he said.
The center itself provides spiritual support to more than the Marian Community members. Over 500 people came from Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland and throughout New England for the community’s first conference last February. The weekend conference was for listening and responding to Our Lady Queen of Peace.
"Folks came from near and far for that weekend," Thorpe said.
The community has many plans for the future. The first two steps — founding the community and building the center — are completed, and plans for a residential living space are underway.
Upcoming events include a concert by an Irish singer, Donna, in October and a one-woman play on St. Therese in November. The community would also like to increase the number of retreats and days of prayer, and they plan to celebrate the year of the Eucharist with an outdoor procession.