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Religious Houses

Spirit Infusion

Religious Houses played an important role in this experiment, as it sent out teams of priors, acting as the House leadership, to live and conduct programs in communities around the world. Among the highest priorities of Religious Houses were “spirit infusion”, which involved reaching out to and consulting with a region’s religious establishment, training residents via odysseys, local church labs, and internships, and style formulation–that is, the formation of structures and missional families to further these efforts. (Report on Religious Houses) In so doing, the main purpose of the Religious Houses, as a report by the Ecumenical Institute has put it, is penetrating and permeating communities down to a micro-level in order to “actualize sociological rebirth” and “conquer historical tyranny” at a perceived moment of historical change. (Symbolic centrum–Religious House Document, Edges of a Religious House Doc)


The priors of the Religious Houses were charged with the care and representation of the Order in the communities it served. As the Chicago Centrum put it in a 1974 report, priors served as pedagogues, social engineers, and “spirit gurus” in their assigned communities. As teachers, priors utilized various methods, such as charting or life methods, to help residents articulate their concerns and most immediate priorities, while social engineering methods, in the way of gridding and the like, served to make participants realize themselves as part of larger social fabrics. Finally, as “spirit gurus,” priors could provide services, such as Scripture methods or meditations on Psalms, to reaffirm the purpose of the Religious House and the place of its members within it. (Profound Function of Priorship)

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