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A.C.T.S. Retreat Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
(adapted from stlukescatholic.com and stannechurch.com)
What is an ACTS Retreat?
An ACTS retreat is a three day and three night Catholic lay retreat presented by lay parishioners from around the vicariate of Southern Oregon. The retreat begins on Thursday evening and ends the following Sunday at a Mass celebrated with one of the parish communities. 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 and the vicariate sponsoring it. The retreat facilitates the 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 large retreat “team” of 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.
What is the purpose of the ACTS retreat?
An ACTS weekend 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.
What is the goal of an ACTS retreat?
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. The hope is that the retreatants return to their parish with a deeper love for each other and a desire to become more involved in their parish community.
Why attend an ACTS retreat?
The weekend 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.
History of ACTS (from www.actsmissions.org)
ACTS retreats have enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people; men and women, teens and retires, rich and poor, Catholic and non-Catholic, in the United States as well as other countries. It has reinvigorated the spiritual lives of individuals, of families, of entire parishes. Yet, 25 years ago, it did not even exist. The way this wonderful program came to be is a beautiful blend of the Holy Spirit and those who listen to His words.
No history of ACTS would be complete without the help of, and some familiarity with, the Cursillo retreat. Cursillo began in Spain in the years between WWI and WWII, in response to what many in the church saw as the increasing secularization of many Catholics in Spain at the time. It was intended to be a short course (the Spanish for short course is "cursillo") on the Catholic faith, and soon became widely popular for its profound effect on people's spirituality. By the mid 1980's, it had spread to many places in the world, including Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Selma, Texas, a suburb of San Antonio. It was here that three men who were heavily involved in Cursillo planned the first ACTS retreat.
Ed Courtney, Joe Hayes, and Marty Sablik were instructors and coordinators with Cursillo, with years of Cursillo experience and a mutual friendship. They thought that several aspects of Cursillo could be improved in order to make the retreat more relevant to the needs of the parish, expecially after the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. From the beginning, they all felt that it was important for the retreat to be open to everyone, not just to Catholics, and not just to those who were sponsored by someone. Ed, acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, met Joe and Marty at a coffee shop to build a new retreat called ACTS. This seemed logical to Ed since the Acts of the Apostles described what the apostles did, and are we not the apostles of today? Since the three main points in Cursillo were Piety, Study, and Action, Ed felt it absolutely necessary to bring them into ACTS. Once again under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Ed used a dictionary to help him correlate the letters A, C, T, and S into the themes of Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service. Joe Hayes, with the help of the Holy Spirit, was instrumental in securing the approval of both their pastor, Fr. Patrick Cronin, and that of Archbishop Flores. Another friend and parishioner, Wallace Vaughn, was inspired by the Holy Spirit to read Acts 2:42-47, the passage that became the biblical inspiration for the weekend.
After that first retreat in 1987, ACTS spread parish to parish in the San Antonio Archdiocese, and by 1997 there were perhaps 15 parishes with an ACTS program in place. In that year, ACTS Missions was formed as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization for the purpose of spreading and maintaining the ACTS retreat wherever the Holy Spirit prompted it. ACTS Missions was started by Larry Lopez and Tony Deosdade, two men who had such a profound experience on their retreat that they were inspired to make sure everyone in the world should have the opportunity to receive it as well. From its headquarters at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, this small organization now leverages thousands of volunteers every year to bring the retreat to even more thousands of people, allowing them to experience the love of God through their fellow Christians. Today, ACTS is in at least 22 states in the U.S., 8 states in Mexico, as well as Canada, Honduras, South Africa and England. Interest is growing literally around the world.
People have credited ACTS with saving their lives, saving their marriages, convincing them to be ordained as priests or deacons, or leading them to the religious life, simply by opening their eyes and their hearts to God's word. Pastors have praised its positive effects on their parishes, leading to highly invigorated parish life. Bishops and other church leaders have called it the most important movement in the Catholic Church today; all this from a handful of faith-filled people with the courage and perseverance to be led by the Holy Spirit.