Life on the lake
120813-lede
by Stefani Manowski
August 13, 2012

It is a tradition that is just about as old as the Paulist community itself: Paulist students coming to spend part of their summers at St. Mary’s on the Lake, the Paulist retreat house on Lake George, N.Y.

Paulist Founder Father Isaac T. Hecker and his companions would camp on the property of Charles O’Conor on Lake George, nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. O’Conor, the Paulists became the owners of a large portion of lakefront property at the southern end of the lake in the early 1870s. The Paulists later purchased five small islands farther north.

Today, Paulist students spend a little more than two weeks at St. Mary’s every year as part of their formation experience. The time students spend at the lake is a chance to renew and form relationships between the students themselves and any priests visiting St. Mary’s at the time, said Father Paul Huesing, CSP, the Paulist director of formation.

“It is especially so this year because we just welcomed the five men who just made their first profession into the Paulist community,” Father Huesing said. “It’s a relaxing time for their introduction into being a part of the community in a place filled with Paulist history and natural beauty.”

Paulist student James Olague, CSP, and Father John Foley, CSP, vice president of the Paulist Fathers, share a meal at St. Mary's on the Lake, Lake George, N.Y.
Paulist student James Olague, CSP, and Father John Foley, CSP, vice president of the Paulist Fathers, share a meal at St. Mary’s on the Lake, Lake George, N.Y.

This is the second trip to the lake for Mark Alblinger, CSP, one of the five men who just made their first promises with the Paulists.

“By coming here, we are continuing a tradition set by Hecker himself,” he said. “And it gives us hope for the future as we get to see more and more what we are aspiring to as we work toward becoming Paulist priests.”

The connection with Paulist history at St. Mary’s is one of the most significant parts of time at the lake for James Olague, CSP.

“You see the pictures all over the halls, their clothing their hair…you get to see what other Paulists were like in their day in a relaxed setting,” said Mr. Olague, who is in his third year of theological studies for the priesthood.

Matthew Berrios, Paulist seminarian, chats with Father Charlie Martin, CSP, in the refectory of St. Mary's on the Lake in Lake George, N.Y.
Matthew Berrios, Paulist seminarian, chats with Father Charlie Martin, CSP, in the refectory of St. Mary’s on the Lake in Lake George, N.Y.

The ability to reconnect with God through nature at the lake is also significantly Paulist experience rooted in the Transcendental background of Father Hecker, according to Mr. Olague.

“It is rejuvenating,” he said, adding that time at the lake is also a family reunion of sorts.

“You get to reconnect with people you don’t usually get to see and to share stories,” he said.