Aquinas Academy has established a place of solitude and silence. It is located on the Colo River about 75 minutes drive from the heart of Sydney.
The name of the property is “Nazareth,” recalling the particular significance Nazareth had for Fr Jean Claude Colin, the founder of the Marist Fathers. Fr Colin drew inspiration from the thought that Nazareth nurtured Jesus for almost thirty years, preparing him for his mission. At Nazareth we find Mary, the mother of Jesus, waiting upon the Lord: “You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Fr Colin was accustomed to “place himself there,” at Nazareth, when he faced a difficult decision or a particularly challenging moment.
At “Nazareth” there are two dwellings.
One is called “La Neylière,” after a place in France where Fr Colin found time to meditate and deepen his experience of contemplation. “La Neylière” is normally used to accommodate groups who go to “Nazareth” for the day but do not stay overnight.
The second dwelling is called “Mary MacKillop Hermitage.” In using this title, we recall the spirit of St Mary of the Cross, recognising her extraordinary contribution to the building of this nation. Mary MacKillop – as she is more famiiliarly known in Australia – epitomises the contemplative in action. “Mary MacKillop” hermitage is normally used by individuals who wish to stay at “Nazareth” for a time.
One of the features of “Mary MacKillop Hermitage” is an icon of St Mary of the Cross, painted by Australian iconographer, Michael Galovic. This icon was commissioned by Brian and Dympna Whelan to the memory of their son Martin (1/12/1951 – 3/11/1952).
Power and telephone are connected to both dwellings. There is also hot and cold running water, refrigerators, cooking and eating utensils, flush toilets, heating and cooling, a small library of books and DVDs, comfortable beds and armchairs and plenty of opportunities to walk in the Australian bush, sit under a tree and meditate by the river.
Visitors are asked to bring their own sheets and towels and food and take all rubbish with them when they go.
We hope that many people will benefit from this Marist place of solitude and silence.
“La Neylière” is available mainly for groups. Please contact us if you would like to use it for a group day of solitude and silence. We recommend no more than 12 people go there at one time.
“Mary MacKillop Hermitage” is available as follows: Overnight – $30 single or $40 twin share with special rates for clergy and religious – please inquire. Individuals may stay for up to 30 days – inquire about special rates for extended stays.