What Happened When We Started Our Own Intentional Community



in this episode of our series on intentional community I'm interviewing Pat Lancel who along with her husband Ron and several other couples started an intentional community down in Long Island New York back in the 1970s so Pat do you mind describing for me sort of when you first encountered the concept of intentional community was that completely new thought to you yes it was a completely new thought I was I was living a very normal young married mother life I was raised Catholic so I had some spiritual roots and in the late 70s there was what they called the charismatic movement there was a charismatic for the Catholics Pentecostal for the Protestants and Jews for Christ for the Jewish people even it just all happened at once it wasn't like somebody planned it for me it for me to say honestly about this movement it was a movement of the Holy Spirit and through the movements in conferences and prayer groups across the country you know I grew up on Long Island so it was in on Long Island the concept of community came up when I heard it myself I felt like it honestly I moved something in my heart like yes of course you know this this makes sense with the gospel and my husband and I you know talked about it and friends from our prayer groups and some people were you know didn't think that was necessary some people thought this is maybe what we should do let's pursue it you know this is the call we're trying to follow Jesus now let's let's find out more so we started discussing discussing it going to conferences as I said that's where I first heard the concept of community knowing nothing about what that was going to mean of course do you mind describing for me the community that you were part of you know what did that look like practically first we started out praying House groups on the weekends we would meet and bring all the children and that this was new idea bring all the children and and pray together and so on and then from a group that I found on Long Island that were also interested in community and it wasn't me or me either I had to travel out on the island to find them I had just heard about it about them and this group was intentionally trying to find out what this meeting is called a community and do we all live in one house and so on so on so we we did eventually do that through a lot of Prayer and a lot of agony and a lot of people of course being upset with each other there was four of us that left and moved up to a house up in Schoharie count up in farther up in the mountains and I am now very beautiful farm that we rented seeing how it would go because if we went forward in this we would all have to leave our jobs our security of we had little children so our security of having our health coverage you know that's a big thing of course and jobs because we lived in a household it was we met together all the time you know there would be certain times that we would give just to the children there would be certain times for the adults to pray together and very soon it came up about the leadership and that's where the you know a lot of people didn't even think about that we would have to decide which person was going to be the leader and guide us you know or who would see because there wasn't anybody that that gave us that pastoral feeling we were more sort of just jumping in together and trying to follow a call it was very very joyful and and we were in love with what had happened to our lives because we gave her life to Christ what were the most rewarding parts about living an intentional community with other people good children I guess the children would be first it's not as as rewarding I would say as what the bigger community like I've joined down it was all so new and fortunately we had a beautiful place where the children could be you know right now didn't be with the wild wildlife and we had enough children go through all small families any happy happiness was when we were all together and we even had people from wider and neighborhood that came to join us so we look we were pretty sure this was a god a god thing you know when we were all together with all the children and all the young parents were all young I was very very wonderful enjoyable and uplifting and we felt we were doing what we were supposed to do you know our hearts for sure what were some of the more challenging aspects for you the challenges were a personality of course and you don't know that least at least I naively I don't think my husband did it either the that I'm not gonna just all be you know it's gonna be all different and we all had different ideas even though we had prayed together in Long Island for so long we didn't know until we were under the same roof it was a big house and we all had a different part like apartment it's very similar to what we have so obviously at some point you're intentional community ended and then what happened after that I was almost a year we stayed together and then it didn't and it didn't but if I can say in the meantime we had visited the Bruderhof because we were so close I thought it was wonderful of course it was all set up and there's lots of families and so when this didn't work out for I'll to speak for my family we decided we let's stop at the Bruderhof because it's on the way back to Long Island and if we go back to the Long Island maybe we'll never do this again I'm because a lot happened up there and so we came here to visit and we never left because we were all atoms we had let go of everything anyway but we were also taken by what we've experienced within a month you know that was our family and then slowly the other families would hear what I would write them letters cuz we didn't have computers or anything you had to write them letters and say this is what you know this is what's happening oh my gosh this is what we were thinking about him you know and they also had it coming up one at a time the four couples that did join the community from that group are still with us today and the other couples too system just lost the the hope and it wasn't Catholic we were all Catholics it wasn't Catholic so they didn't you know go for it under that reason so do you have any thoughts about intentional communities that are not started on a religious basis like there's a lot of ecovillages cohousing situations where the purpose or the goal is is not at all religious well I know from our time gave us many groups very similar and some of them lasted a long time you know many many years but eventually then it might have been 20 years and maybe that's without the God Center maybe that was all as far as they could go I don't you know I don't like to judge even that type of person that's trying to do something good in our world you know I think God is with them even even if they're not saying the word God do you know what I mean when you're when you're your intention is good then it's going to take you somewhere to a certain level as far as it can go I guess for each heart I don't know I I'm not blowing it it's turned off by labels and you can see the fruits of the community you know you know that's a big word that Jesus uses the fruits and you can decide from that you know what I mean I would like to visit those communities myself you know and maybe they don't say God maybe there's more there than then we would that say God do you know what I mean I don't know so there's been renewed interest recently in intentional community and some statistics say that about 90 percent of intentional communities fail so do you have any advice for young people who might be interested in the concept of intentional community or looking to start one themselves or join one that they know of do you have any advice for those young people I would say go with you heart you know I think I think it's communities that definitely not something that's easy to live out but it's not meant to be and I wouldn't say that to a young person particularly but if you file if you if you're really committed to Christ and he's filed you were trying to follow him in your own heart you know the Holy Spirit speaks to all of us and I think if we let you know you'll be led to something that works and that's what I think if you're really really sincere and they'll don't let the first barrier or the first crisis you know say oh this doesn't work forget it so yeah it's a heart I think it's a journey that God calls us to definitely and if they feel called to it or is it just something they think it's a great idea in this world because it's a difficult world to live in to live with Christians would be a marvelous idea yes it would be and it would be something that would insulate their lives but there's also more to it and in that beginning of Christ learning how to listen to him in your heart the Holy Spirit in your heart I think will lead them but has to be sincere you know or maybe that's my feeling now that's 72 thank you very much Pat I enjoyed talking with you today and I hope you all enjoyed listening in on our conversation and so if you're interested in seeing more videos from us and following up on more of the videos in a series please like this video and subscribe and ring the bell for updates every time we upload

7 thoughts on “What Happened When We Started Our Own Intentional Community

  1. 90 % failed ….I love the possibilities of my individual life. Will I lose it in following Jesus and join a intentional community?

  2. Thanks my dear friend Pat,
    Sisterhood and Brotherhood is the whole of Christianity, and of Buddhism and other major faith practices. Jesus said, to love one another , as it is the "whole" law .Centuries earlier, Buddha said the same, it is the "whole" of the practice. To find community in any form is never easy because it is not the first goal. Jesus and Buddha taught that It requires our entire being to awaken (metanoia) to become honestly aware of our habits, our misperceptions, our suffering, strong likes and dislikes; all of dualism. True community requires me to awaken, to step away from my separate self toward honest awareness to a deeper understanding of myself, which leads to that "whole" of the faith – a community requires a heart of compassion for all beings, all phenomena. Realizing , and actualizing our interconnectedness in gentle compassion and non judgemental equanimity, is to realize our aspiration of true community, whatever it's form. I know that Pat knows this. Thank you

  3. Sadly, the Charismatic renewal pulled so many Catholics away from the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. I’m happy that you all found peace in your decision.

  4. Pat's testimony is nostalgic time for me. She is right about the heart. I believer that to be the comforter.

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