Retreats provide opportunities for parishioners to meditate, pray, learn and participate in fellowship. Everything about the retreat--from the location to the activities to even the type of food served--should support the mission of the retreat and provide spiritual nourishment to all who attend. The three most common types of retreat are preached, directed and private. Preached retreats are conferences led by a leader. Directed retreats establish meetings between individuals and spiritual directors, and private retreats allow participants to establish their own activities during the retreat to pursue personal spiritual goals.
Retreats for Married Couples
A retreat for married couples often focuses on offering spiritual guidance to couples and helping them overcome the challenges of a fulfilling married life. One idea is to partner a long-term married couple with newlyweds for a weekend. Activities can include meditations on biblical passages about love, marriage and commitment; marriage mentoring; speakers on marriage; and one-on-one counseling. Some marriage retreats include team-building activities, and others provide quiet meditation time that couples can spend together.
Retreats for Deacons
Many parishes hold annual deacons' retreats to provide spiritual guidance and nourishment to those who serve the members of the church. These retreats can offer specific training in deacon services as well as in teaching the theology and doctrine of the Catholic church. The retreats also give deacons a chance to engage in fellowship with other deacons and to share their experiences. Activities can include time-management lessons, Bible studies, prayer groups and rosary readings. Some deacon retreats include the wives of deacons and are designed to provide a quiet, reflective break from busy lives.
Several Catholic retreat centers specialize in family retreats. These retreats focus on giving Catholic families spiritual guidance and the opportunity to share their Catholic experiences with other families. Ideas for family retreats include daily meditations, outdoor activities such as nature hikes and swimming, crafts, Stations of the Cross and outdoor games and sports. A nightly campfire can be a time for prayer and the sharing of stories about living a Catholic life in today's world.
Nearly all retreats have some periods set aside for quiet reflection--a retreat from the noise and bustle of daily life. Some retreats are set up to be entirely silent so that each person attending can focus on prayer, meditation and communing with the Holy Spirit. Several retreat centers and monastic orders cater to these needs. Such retreats can provide places to pray, meditation material, rosaries, quiet rooms and outdoor gardens or prayer paths.
Liturgy and Choir Retreats
Choirs and musical ensembles can take retreats together as an opportunity for an extended period to learn Catholic liturgies and music for upcoming performances. Most of these retreats will focus on singing and learning the music, but there might also be time for other activities. These activities might include videos on the liturgical history or on particular pieces of music, workshops in which participants can learn instruments such as the organ or handbells, and time for personal prayer and reflection.
A parish or a Society of Mary can hold a retreat that focuses on the rosary. This retreat can have a "stations of Mary" activity, featuring stations that focus on Mary's life and ministry. Another activity can include the making of rosaries to be given to those in need at the parish, at hospitals or in military service. Some rosary organizations also make rosaries for newlywed couples. A rosary retreat should also have several times set aside for praying the rosary. The participants might have particular people or needs for which they are praying the rosary.
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