In the early days at the Manquehue School, in the parish and during the emergence of San Benito school José Manuel personally guided in formation the young followers who came to him…. To achieve this it was not enough to arrange meetings about the word of God, the Rule of St Benedict, the spirituality of the Movement and the discipline of this way of life. More time, more concentration and more space for prayer and reflection had to be made available for the process of learning.

So it came about that a Formation House was established in which university students could, for four months or more, live a life which except for work outside at university or earning their living, was separate and structured. In this environment they were able to learn more, to give more time and space to prayer with the reading of the scriptures and in this way to enlighten their lives or discern their vocation … These Formation Houses, however, were not themselves permanent but lasted only until they had fulfilled a specific need.

The work of these early Formation Houses was fitted into a busy and demanding daily life in Santiago. Their effect was impressive but at an early stage a need was felt for more time and space to devote to intensive spiritual reflection, reading and practice in prayer and community life. A quieter environment also away from the city and its distractions was desirable. And so it happened that in the year 2001 a new community was set up at San José in Chilean Patagonia as the Formation House of the Movement.

This new House was far away from the Movement’s centre in Santiago. Already in the days when San Benito and San Lorenzo were in the early stages of their development José Manuel used to go there on holiday with his family and the Oblates, and often some of the other young members who were not yet Oblates, travelling down to this remote farmstead in Chilean Patagonia

That was the first use by the Movement of this distant retreat. Then there was an entirely new development in the year 2000. The whole ambience of San José was so perfect for retreat, for reflection and personal discernment and for spiritual formation that they decided to set up a community of the Movement there as the nucleus of a permanent House of Formation[1].



[1] Barry, Patrick OSB, A cloister in the world, p. 230-232