Men’s Rites Of Passage

You know after any truly initiating experience that you are part of a much bigger whole. Life is not about you henceforward, but you are about life.
— Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation

Almost 20 years ago, Richard Rohr, Stephen Gambill, along with others created a retreat experience in the wilderness that came to be known as the Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP).  Tapping deeply into universal truths and practices, the MROP is now regularly offered in Australia, Germany, Great Britain, The Czech Republic, all over the United States, and new countries are being added.  Thousands of men have gone through this deeply transformative experience already, and the movement is growing.

Originally rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the MROP now also draws on poetry, stories, and wisdom teachings from all over the world.  Reflecting on practices men from many cultures have used for thousands of years to help men become better fathers, sons, elders, brothers, and lovers, the MROP draws a diverse group of men, who are united in their desire to be more authentic, more alive, and more connected.  At an MROP you’ll find liberals and conservatives, young and old, rich and poor, highly educated and those whose teachers were not found in books…you’ll find men from all over the country, from all manner of families, from all manner of spiritual and faith traditions.  You’ll find classic macho men and bookworms, pacifists and members of the military…in short…you’ll find an amazing cross section of society, all drawn by a sense of something more, some desire to go deeper and farther, some restless itch that wants more than what they’ve been given.

The Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP) is an experience that awakens men to the adventure and mystery of their own belovedness, their masculinity, their deep spirituality, their potential for leadership, and the process of transformation. Over the course of 5 days of soulful experiences, men go through classic steps of male initiation through simple and moving rituals and teaching.  You’ll have plenty of time by yourself, out in nature, you’ll have time with a small group of brothers, and time with the larger overall group.

Men are asked to come with a willingness to participate from beginning to end and not as an observer.  Trust that this process, which has served others so well, will also meet you wherever it is you are in life, and help you move into wherever it is you need to go.  Most of the men who come, have little idea about what to expect, and have come based on a trusted friend’s recommendation that “you should really really do this.”  Others come because they are seeking for a transformative experience, and either through Richard Rohr or other people, stumble upon this event.  Whatever drew you…you are welcome.

The MROP Is ...

  • A personal discovery about the masculine journey, especially for those in or entering their second half of life;
  • A time to savor the healing and awesome power of nature;
  • A process to address issues of loss, grief, and brokenness;
  • An opportunity to examine life’s priorities and ask courageous questions about your next step;
  • An invitation to listen to the quiet voice of God;
  • A chance to return to life with a renewed energy and commitment to sharing your gifts;
  • Open to all men.

 

The MROP Isn't...

  • A traditional, lecture-based retreat;
  • An informational workshop about men’s spirituality;
  • A place where you’ll be asked to buy a bill of goods or change your beliefs;
  • A threatening process that requires participants to engage in anything unsafe, strange, secret, etc;
  • A test of physical stamina.
  • The MROP is a program developed by Fr. Richard Rohr. Illuman has been entrusted with maintaining the integrity and expansion of this work.

Is The MROP Right For Me?

Acceptance to the MROP is based on perceived readiness for a deep encounter. In the Men’s Rites of Passage, images and ritual are used from a variety of religious traditions. Though our primary orientation has developed from the Judeo-Christian heritage, the universal nature of what the MROP addresses continually demonstrates that if something is true, it is true, and will resonate in human hearts all over this globe.

We are fed by the wisdom traditions of forgiveness and radical inclusivity, and the MROP welcomes all men regardless of faith tradition, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, socio-economic status or any other artificial divisions present in our society. We have welcomed men young and old, liberal and conservative, impoverished and wealthy, Christian fundamentalists, evangelicals, progressives, Buddhists, Catholics, Mormons, agnostics, “spiritual but not religious”, ardent pacifists and proud members of the US military, gay men and those yet homophobic…to say nothing of ethnic or nationality differences…and in almost every case, these men are all deeply moved despite their broad backgrounds and viewpoints.

The Men’s Rites of Passage are most appropriate for those who are spiritually searching.  Though friends and family do come together some times, it is preferable if you approach this experience as a lone seeker. Fathers and sons are normally not initiated together.  You may come with friends but expect to be grouped separately to start together from zero with your group. (You will actually find this to be an advantage.)

The Men’s Rites of Passage is ultimately designed as a once in a lifetime event. You may not make this initiation rite more than once, but you may return to help make the experience happen for other men as an initiator.

Elements of the MROP require a basic mobility and level of health that will allow you to move around and hike on uneven, even mountainous terrain. There is a period of fasting for those who can.  However, we have had people in their upper 70’s and those in wheelchairs go through this before successfully.  We will work with you.

The MROP blew me away. It was so much more than I could have imagined it would be, and it prepared me to face a major trauma which hit me soon after my trip, putting me in a far better place than I would have otherwise been. Years later I’m still so grateful for the indelible mark this trip had on my life. My spouse and my kids are all glad that I went...
— Past MROP Participant

Next Steps

Step One – Take Stock

The MROP is not just another event to attend.  It is a decision that for many comes out of a sense that they are ready for “something” even if they are unsure what that is; see if in your “gut” God is inviting you into this adventure. You might also talk to others who have gone through the MROP. Contact us if you’d like to be connected with someone.

Step Two – Go Online and Read

When you’re ready check out the resources and videos posted at the bottom of this page. Read and review the application and deeply consider all the questions.

Step Three – Submit Application & Deposit

Submit your completed 2017 Washington MROP application here, along with a $50 deposit. You’ll be contacted for a phone interview and if you are accepted, the deposit becomes non-refundable and is applicable to the final payment. After the phone interview, if accepted, a full confirmation package will be sent to you with further instructions for preparations.

Step Four – Wait and Pray

The MROP is a life-changing opportunity. Spend the time before an MROP being present to additional inspiration and insight. Be aware of where your life’s journey is calling your attention.


Resources:

Richard Rohr On Male Initiation

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Books

Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality by Richard Rohr
Adam’s Return – The Five Promises of Male Initiation by Richard Rohr
Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin
Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin
The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane
Pilgrim by David Whyte
Creating Rituals: A New Way of Healing for Everyday Life by Jim Clarke