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.
Reprinted from The Chalice – The monthly newsletter of St. Francis’ Episcopal Church in Eureka – May, 2018.
A Month of Grace + Prayer
From July 15 through Aug 12, St. Francis’ will host “A Month of Grace + Prayer.” This is a retreat in the course of everyday life. As the website, momentsofgraceandprayer.org says, “Each participant is invited to pray privately for at least 20 minutes each day, and will meet with his/her spiritual companion privately for 1 hour, once per week for 4 consecutive weeks. Confidential, one-on-one meetings with spiritual companions take place in the morning, afternoon or evening, at the convenience of each participant.”
That tells you a little about what it is, but it doesn’t tell you what it’s like. I am a “graduate” of this program, having gone through it once.
When I signed up for A Month of Grace + Prayer I already had what I considered to be a strong relationship with God in Jesus Christ. And for many years at that point I’d been meeting with a spiritual director monthly. So I wasn’t sure what I would get out of the retreat.
While it’s hard to describe how or why, what I know is: My relationship with God deepened during that month. My connection to the Divine was more readily available to me. Part of that happened because of the discipline of praying every single day for 20 minutes, without exception. Part of that happened because of the work my spiritual companion and I did together during the hour we met each week.
I remember one particularly fruitful session in which we read a passage from the Gospel and my companion asked me to imagine myself in that scene with Jesus. Who was I? Was I a member of the crowd, in the background? Or was I a disciple, up front with Jesus? What did I see? What did I smell? What did I feel? Delving into the Gospel in this way changed the Scripture passage for me. It made Jesus and my participation in his life real, visceral, and urgent. And feelings arose that surprised me. I was thankful that my spiritual companion was there, so that I had someone to help me process my experience.
I commend A Month of Grace + Prayer to you. I am certain that it will be a good experience for all those who choose to participate.– Pastor Sally Weaver
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.”