Two things are needed from a church or parish to host a Moments of Grace + Prayer retreat.
- Someone (or a team of people) who will coordinate logistics from the church/parish end (I refer to this person/team as the champion). The champion will coordinate reserving the meeting spaces, advertising in the bulletin, printing of brochures (I have suggested advertisements and brochures), handling registration of retreatants, and things of this nature.
- There need to be available spaces for one-on-one meetings between retreatants and spiritual companions. We have used quite a variety of spaces, including the church/sanctuary, parish offices, parish meeting spaces and classrooms.
Additionally, there are a few things hosts should be aware of…
- These retreats are offered at no cost to the church/parish and there is no registration fee for retreatants. Instead, we accept donations.
- It is our policy to never cancel a retreat because of low registration. The minimum number needed for a retreat to go forward is one.
- All of our retreats are open to any adult regardless of denomination or parish affiliation.
Comments from some of those who have hosted our retreats are provided below. If you would like to explore hosting a retreat, by all means, please contact me: Clarence Heller, 314-258-9066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a pastor, I am always searching for ways for our community to step deeper into relationship with Jesus Christ. The Week of Guided Prayer is an excellent way to do just that. We hosted at the beginning of Advent, 2013 and invited retreatants to prepare in a very intentional way for the advent of Christ. For those who were on retreat, I believe this time of preparation was invaluable to their Advent experience. For our faith community, serving as host allowed us to more fully realize our place in helping guide others in The Way.
Rev. Kimberly Jenne, Webster Hills United Methodist Church
The week/month guided prayer was wonderful. As a priest of the Episcopal Church for 55 years I have struggled to help the Church–the People of God—appreciate that there is no such thing as private prayer. Prayer is a corporate/community activity. We need each other. Imagine climbing a mountain worthy of the name. One of the things you do, if possible, is to link yourself to others. Prayer is like climbing such a mountain and the Week/Month of Guided Prayer is like tying yourself together for the journey to a place you will only know when you get there. Do not be afraid. God is always with us through the presence of others.
The Rev. Roderic D. Wiltse, Priest Associate, Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Reprinted from The Messenger – News of the people and ministries of Grace Episcopal Church – November, 2013.
Grace members experience the power of prayer
“I didn’t expect anything extraordinary to happen, but extraordinary things DID happen!” That’s just one of the many powerful reactions from participants of Grace’s Week of Guided Prayer.
Ten people from our church and the community took part in this individually-directed retreat held September 15-21. Each person met with a trained prayer guide at Grace Church for 30 minutes each day and then prayed on their own for an additional 30 minutes each day. The group came together for services at the beginning and end of the program to share their experiences.
Our gratitude goes to Clarence Heller and all the prayer guides who led The Week of Guided Prayer for us at Grace Church.
If you would like to learn more about future retreats, visit their website at momentsofgraceandprayer.org.
Reprinted from The Spirit — the quarterly newsletter of All Saints Catholic Parish in St. Peters, MO — March, 2013.
All Saints Parish recently completed a Month of Guided Prayer. Forty-one parishioners completed the process which included private prayer for at least twenty (20) minutes a day and meeting confidentially in one-on-one sessions with their assigned Prayer Guides.
“The Prayer Guide is someone who listens and is more of a companion than teacher,” said Clarence Heller who started this ministry several years ago. “The participants bring to these sessions his/her experiences of what happened during the prayer times and other life events and experiences relevant to his/her relationship with God.”
The program utilizes those who have responded to a call to prayer ministry and have been trained through Aquinas Institute or the Bridges Program highlighting Ignatian Spirituality.
“I was skeptical at first, but I am so glad I participated in this retreat,” said Pauline Marcinkiewicz, longtime parishioner here at All Saints. “My Prayer Guide, who was so inspirational and such a sweet lady, offered several new ways of praying. I found them very helpful and know they have assisted me in growing closer to Jesus in my daily prayer life.”
B.J. Ellison wrote, “This retreat was a wonderful experience. I was blessed to be paired with a Guide of a different religion but the same faith. I received encouragement and resources which enhanced my faith journey. What a gift!”
We also had several people from neighboring parishes. Mary Witte, from Immaculate Conception in Dardenne said she, “wished more parishes had this program available.” It was an opportunity to explore various prayer forms.
Mary O’Brien with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish said she “learned how to pray softly; gently listening for God’s voice.” She also thanked All Saints for providing this opportunity to grow in her faith. Bill Henderson came to the retreat experience focused on Christ and his mercy, forgiveness and love. He said, “To follow Christ, you have to love.” “People think they can’t come back to a life of faith but that’s not true.”
At the closing session, Clarence led a process of discerning the desires and experience of the month long retreat and reflected on what God wants us to remember and take home. He suggested that we follow up doing something individually; continue practicing our daily prayer and do something communally, like join a faith sharing group. Clarence also suggested that we do something less. Perhaps trim out those activities that do not bring us a sense of joy or peace.
A final thought from B.J. Ellison, “I hope everyone in our parish would avail themselves of an opportunity like this should it be offered in the future.”