An ACTS retreat is a three day and three night Catholic lay retreat presented by laymen including fellow parishioners. The retreat begins on Thursday evening and ends the following Sunday at a Mass celebrated by the parish community. Retreats for men and retreats for women are given separately. Talks and activities during the retreat focus on Adoration, Community, Theology and Service, from which the ACTS program acronym is derived. Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are the guides for the retreats. The retreat takes on the traditions and atmosphere of the parish community sponsoring it. It facilitates attainment of a new or deeper relationship with the Lord through:
Adoration – the call by, acceptance of, and response to God
Community – the love and caring of each other
Theology – the study of God through scripture and the Catholic faith
Service – to God and his people
Each retreat is conducted by a retreat “team” composed of 20 – 30 individuals who have attended prior ACTS retreats. Chosen by the retreat Director, the team organizes the retreat, conducts the retreat talks and activities and ministers to the needs of the retreatants during the retreat weekend.
The ACTS Retreat is designed to help the retreatants enter into a new or deeper relationship with our Lord and fellow parishioners. This is accomplished through Adoration and daily prayer, the call to Community in one’s parish as a member of the Body of Christ, and Theology in encouraging the study of scripture and our Catholic Faith. All of these which emphasize and encourage the virtue of Service to our Lord, our parish and one another.
A parish ACTS retreat strives to achieve the directives of Vatican II and goals of the Revised Code of Canon Law of 1983 which emphasize “community and pastoral care” within a parish. The weekend allows the retreatants to experience God’s love and joy. They return to their parish with a deeper love for each other and a desire to become more involved in their parish community.
Each retreat is conducted by a dedicated team of men who have attended prior ACTS retreats. They spend significant time prior to the retreat meeting weekly and preparing spiritually for it, as well as handling all the planning and logistics for the weekend. Chosen by the retreat Director and working with one of the parish priests, the team organizes the retreat, conducts the retreat talks and activities and ministers to the needs of the retreatants during the retreat weekend.
The retreat is a powerful and enduring personal conversion experience. Talks, which draw from the personal experiences of team members focus on Adoration, the need for prayer and meditation on the word of God, Community, the importance of community built on faith and love, Theology, the need to read and understand scripture and our Catholic Faith and Service, the need to answer Christ’s call to servanthood. Activities conducted during the weekend give retreatants a better understanding of the significance and importance of prayer, liturgy, the sacraments, scripture, community and service.
Retreatants are also given guidance to help them in their faith journey. It is a powerful community building experience. The ACTS weekend brings the retreatants to a better understanding of God’s love for them and also develops their need to share that love with others through their involvement in a faith-centered parish community. The retreat emphasizes our call to service, service to the parish community and to our world community. There results a new or renewed dedication to the life of the parish community and a new recognition of the needs of those around us and of our obligation, as followers of Christ, to help meet those needs.
While ACTS is a Catholic retreat, it is open to anyone who is interested in developing a closer relationship with our Lord and learning more about the Roman Catholic faith.
This isn’t a silent retreat – it is more participative. While the retreats are planned around the same format, they all happen a little differently and part of the blessing (and enjoyment) of the retreat is discovering what it means to you as it happens. For this reason, it is hard to get into specifics. There is prayer, reflection, liturgy and discussion. You can choose to participate in the discussion as much or as little as you like. People are different, so their experience and reaction to the retreat differs, but if you talk to men and women who have been on the retreat, you’ll see that responses are typically very positive.
The retreat begins at the sponsoring parish on Thursday evening at about 5:30 PM and is completed at Mass on Sunday morning. Take into consideration the time of year and pack appropriately. While most of the activities take place indoors, it could be possible to spend some time outdoors. Also, pack things you would typically bring for a short trip – toiletries, medications, etc. Finally, bring clothes appropriate for Mass on Sunday.
The retreat takes place at various retreat houses in Connecticut. At each location, the food is great – three meals are served each day and the retreat team makes certain that snacks and nonalcoholic beverages (water, soda and coffee) are available throughout the day. If you have special dietary needs, please note them on the registration form when you sign up for the retreat.
The short answer is no, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do after the retreat. Hopefully, during the retreat you will learn things about your faith, yourself and the way others practice their faith. The goal isn’t more members for a group; it is a better and stronger relationship with the Lord. If that relationship moves you to also become more active in your parish community or part of a future retreat team, that’s great!
Currently the cost of the retreat runs between $240 and $270. Please note that financial difficulties should not prevent anyone from attending the retreat. If you wish to inquire about a scholarship or need more information, please contact the Director or Co-Directors listed on the retreat Registration Form.
The ACTS program starts with parish based ACTS retreats. Four retreats (2 for men and 2 for women) are initially coordinated with ACTS Missions or its’ closest Chapter to develop a group of people from which the ACTS parish ministry can be formed. ACTS Missions or its’ Chapters do not conduct ACTS retreats but assist the interested parish in facilitating the retreat using the ACTS retreat format.
One method allows individual parishioners to attend ACTS retreats given by other parishes. After a substantial number of parishioners have attended an ACTS retreat and have been part of an ACTS retreat team in other parishes, the parish may form a team to facilitate an ACTS retreat for their parish.
A second method calls for individual parishioners to attend an ACTS retreat offered by other parishes. After a minimum of 10 individuals have attended an ACTS retreat and commit to serving on an ACTS retreat team, ACTS Missions or its’ closest Chapter will form an ACTS retreat team composed of those parishioners and persons from other parishes with team experience to facilitate an ACTS retreat for your parish. This first parish ACTS retreat will be facilitated by one of the experienced team members. The other experienced team members will mentor the parish team members. A second parish ACTS retreat can then be given with a team comprised by a majority of parish members. ACTS Chapter can provide several experienced team members, literature, and guidance for this second team. ACTS Chapter will give your ACTS community literature and guidance to facilitate the continuation of the ACTS retreat movement in your parish. The same process is employed in facilitating both men's and women's retreats.
A third method calls for ACTS Missions or its’ closest Chapter to come into your parish with a complete ACTS retreat team and facilitate an ACTS retreat for your parish. The team will organize the retreat and recruit parish members to come to the retreat. ACTS Chapter will then facilitate a second ACTS retreat, building the team with parishioners who attended the first retreat and several experienced team members. Future ACTS retreats may then be conducted by your parish, with teams comprised of ACTS parishioners. ACTS Chapter will give your ACTS community literature and guidance to facilitate the continuation of the ACTS retreat movement in your parish. The same process is employed in facilitating both men's and women's retreats.
The ACTS parish ministry strives to assist members of the parish community to attain a deeper relationship with our Lord and with fellow parishioners using the principles of: Adoration, the need for prayer and meditation on the word of God, Community, the importance of community built on faith and love, Theology, the need to read and understand scripture and our Catholic Faith, and Service, the need to answer Christ's call to servanthood.
The ACTS parish ministry goals focus first, on assisting the parish clergy with parish administration and spiritual formation; second, on facilitating weekend lay retreats for the parishioners using the ACTS retreat format; third, on the spiritual development, service orientation, and community building among parishioners and coordination of such activities with other parish groups.
The ACTS parish ministry is supported and governed by the pastor and composed of a core group of 10 – 12 parishioners (5 – 6 men; 5 – 6 women) who have attended an ACTS retreat and are committed to maintaining the integrity and uniformity of the ACTS program. ACTS Missions will make available time-tested materials to assist the pastor and the core group in forming and administering the parish ministry. It will also provide education and training to ensure that the integrity and uniformity of the ACTS program and its processes are maintained by the parish.
The pastor's support is essential. His cooperation is important during the recruitment phase. He is usually the best recruiter for the first retreat. He can also facilitate connecting the retreat team with other parish organizations for assistance in organizing different facets of the retreat if needed. Bulletin announcements, pulpit presentations, parish information sessions, face to face conversations, and such other recruiting methods are generally utilized in the recruiting process
If possible, the parish should make available a meeting space for use by the retreat team to plan the retreat. The team usually meets weekly in the evening for three months prior to the retreat date.
On the Thursday night of the retreat weekend, parish space is needed for registering and welcoming the retreatants. A short send-off service is then conducted in the church.
During a regularly scheduled Mass on the Sunday of the retreat weekend, an area in the church should be reserved for the returning retreatants and team members. It is requested that they be allowed to process in as a group and sit together to demonstrate the community that they formed during the retreat. After this Mass, the parish is requested to provide a small reception for at least the retreatants, the ACTS team, and their families and friends. The size of the reception is entirely up to the parish.
The cost of a retreat facility (room and meals) is covered by the registration fee paid by each retreatant and team member, however, there are additional expenses for literature, materials, postage and other ancillary items. Each ACTS team member normally makes donations of materials and money to help defray these expenses but the sponsoring parish should consider underwriting a portion of these expenses and/or the retreatant’s registration fee. It has been experienced that after the ACTS parish ministry has been formed, the ACTS program becomes self-funded through the generosity of ACTS retreatants.
As you see, the cost is very reasonable; however, there are those who may not be able to afford the weekend. In order to make the retreat available to all those who desire to go, the parish should also consider providing scholarships for needy retreatants.