Lupon Claude d’Estree, Buddhist (Tibetan) and Jeanette Renouf, Christian (Episcopal) started Tacheria in 1992 as an interfaith course in spirituality at St. Philip’s In the Hills. The course was so popular they taught it several times over the next three years. It soon became clear that some of these students wanted also to be trained as spiritual directors. By 1994 a board of advisors had been formed and a name chosen. Tacheria, a Yaqui word meaning spiritual or inner journey seemed appropriate to the topic and the geographical area.
A two year curriculum was developed and the first class enrolled in 1995. There was no place quiet enough for the class at St. Philip’s so the course began at Grace and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Tacheria also had offices for spiritual direction at the same location. Linda Williams was one of the people who took the training in these early years at Grace and St. Paul’s Two years later Tacheria moved back to St. Philip’s In The Hills where it has remained. St. Philip’s made it clear that Tacheria would not be a program budgeted by them but that they would provide free space for classes one Saturday a month. It was also during this time that Tacheria started the Summer Film Series on Fridays during the summer months.
In the 1998 Claude and his family moved to Washington, D.C. area and Jeanette was left to run Tacheria alone. She combined the two year classes so that a first year and second year class always met together. The design has generally remained the same over the years, with instructors changing as people moved or new resources became available. The classes have always been interfaith, with the various faith traditions present in the Tucson area being represented over the 15 years. This combination of traditions has enriched the classes and the community of Tucson. Many graduates have used their learning for personal spiritual growth; a few have become formal spiritual directors and others using this gift in a variety of occupations.
Jeanette planned to close Tacheria in 2003 when she retired from St. Philip’s but a number of people came forward and indicated their desire for the program to continue, emphasizing the need in the community. Among these volunteering their efforts to continue the program were Linda and Frank Williams and Annick Saffken. They joined Tacheria for several years and began to take over teaching and administrative duties. Jeanette continued to be a part of the program and chair the board. Claude would visit about once a year for a retreat or to teach a class. Annick left for other work and in 2006 Jeanette passed leadership to the Williams’ with Frank becoming head of the board. Jeanette has maintained membership on the board and teaches a class or takes part in a retreat every year.
Tacheria continues to graduate 5-10 students a year from its two year course (20 months). The quality of its graduates remains high and alumni continue to meet in a regular way for continuing education and support.