Agape Community

Organization Description: 

The Agape Community is a lay Catholic residential community co-founded in 1982 in Brockton, MA by Suzanne Belote Shanley, Brayton Shanley and Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, with a vision of ministry in peace education with a primary focus on Catholic schools from elementary through colleges and universities, and including an ecumenical and interfaith embrace. The community began with a focus on prayer (three times a day), evangelical simplicity and peacemaking witness in the world. In 1987, co-founders, Suzanne Belote Shanley and Brayton Shanley moved with their daughter, Teresa, to 32 acres of land in the Quabbin Reservoir watershed where they and hundreds of volunteers built the first community building, Francis House, with interest free loans, donations, and generous gifts from donors who supported the Franciscan charism of simple living, the healing power of nature and solitude, and peace education.. Agape???s large organic garden feeds the community as well as others in the area. In 1997, Agape launched a second building project, a straw bale house with solar energy, compost toilet, wood cook and wood heating stoves, named after St. Brigid of Ireland. The sustainable community experiment is designed to inspire people to live a more simple, creative lifestyle emphasizing a theology grounded in a sound ecology rather than consumption.

2062 Greenwich Rd
Ware, MA 01082
Mission Statement: 

Founded in 1982, Agape is a lay Catholic Christian Community. We find ourselves living in the urgencies of the 21st century North America; therefore, we seek to create and to preserve a morally coherent life in fidelity to our faith and calling as Christians. While grounded in the practice of our Catholic Christianity, we are all embracing Catholics in that we experience an affinity and connectedness with sisters and brothers from other faith traditions, and those who follow no particular faith tradition, learning from them and seeking to live in harmony with them. Our mission is four-fold: 1. A commitment to community. 2. A dedication to gospel nonviolence. 3. An effort to live in simply and in voluntary poverty. 4. A daily discipline to a solitary and communal prayer life and Sabbath observance. Our Christianity is a gift, a truth that is experienced, one that is fundamentally stated by what we do every day. In that spirit, we dedicate ourselves to a way of life.

Organizational Statement of Faith: 

Prayer Life: "Pray ceaselessly." (1 Thess. 5:17) This command reminds us that if our efforts at hospitality, the ministry of service, and resistance to evil are not deep and filled with the spirit of contemplation, then our actions will not be loving enough or radical enough. Therefore, we seek knowledge of God which can only come from direct experience, so our prayer reaches up to God and out to our neighbor. Because the Christian life and community are filled with ambiguity and hardship, our daily prayer strengthens us, fills us with courage and perseverance for the long haul.

Communal Prayer: Common life under the spirit of God's word begins with common worship. For centuries, back to the ancients, seekers have risen at dawn to pray together. At Agape, the deep stillness of the morning dawn is broken by readings of the Hebrew Scripture and The New Testament. Our noonday prayer the "Angelus," is an historic prayer for world peace and reconciliation.
In the evening, we pray the Psalter, the psalm prayers of Jesus, which have become the prayer book of the Church.

Silence: The simplest, most honest and direct prayer we pray is the prayer of silence. In our daily periods of meditation and silence, we seek to become still enough that if we are to submit to the call of Jesus, we need silence. In our silence, we become "still" enough to listen to a speaking God, a voice that is alive in our very midst. Jesus rose before dawn and went out to a lonely place (Mark 1:35). The word uttered by the Divine is a word filled with silence.

Sabbath: To fully experience the blessing of being alive, enjoy leisure and rest, is to observe the Sabbath. This ancient practice finds its origin in the Genesis Story and is loved by People Israel for thousands of years. In observing the Sabbath, all work ceases from Sundown on Saturday through Sunday. We encourage leisure activities, fellowship, hikes, recreation, music and days of solitude.

Liturgy: As Catholic lay community, we maintain a devotion to the liturgical traditions. At the same time, we remain open to the creative tension of new movements within the church and the uniqueness and power of our experience as lay Catholics. We are open to diversity of religious expression by those of different faiths who visit, volunteer or intern at Agape.
We rejoice in the inner authority with which women and laity inspire a new vision of the church as together we build authentic Christian communities for the 21st Century.

All Are Welcome at Agape

Finally, all are welcome at Agape. No one is excluded from participation in Agape ?? ??s community life, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious or non-religious affiliation. We rejoice in our shared struggles to conform to the mind of Christ, mercy, love, compassion, and inclusivity.

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