Why would the candidates go on a retreat?
Coming on retreat is often a big step for a confirmation candidate. It is an occasion where they take their faith - often fledgling - outside of its normal environment and express it in another forum. This is a further step towards the moment of confirmation where the aim is that they will be able to ‘confess the name of Christ boldly, and never be ashamed of the Cross’. (CCC 1303)
A confirmation retreat at SPEC will support a well rounded catechetical programme by reinforcing those elements that are difficult to reproduce in a parish environment.
The retreat experience allows the candidates a time and space ‘set apart’ from normal life to be intentionally with God and with each other. Specifically, a confirmation retreat is meant to nurture the personal integration of what is taught in a catechetical programme. It is often through a retreat process – in a space free of distractions - that the young person is able to have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus and to discover a personal connection to the love of God and His Church. The retreat is thus an opportunity for them to listen, to contemplate what God is calling them to and to respond to God speaking into their heart.
The retreat process allows the young person an opportunity to...
- share in the life of a praying community, being invited to join in with the SPEC community’s cycle of prayer.
- reflect more deeply on what they have been taught in their catechetical programme.
- consider what they truly believe.
- experience a personal encounter with the Lord through the Sacraments and a variety of prayer experiences.
The retreat process allows the confirmation candidates to grow as a community by...
- letting the retreatants step back from the world and allowing the time to reflect on the group culture so that it is less conformed to worldly values.
- providing an environment that builds trust and models behaviour which encourages and supports each other.
- learning more about each other’s strengths and gifts.
- establishing a stronger sense of ‘belonging’ that will encourage more commitment to parish life.
Day and Residential Retreats
There are three retreat ‘themes’ that will be offered at SPEC. These can be reviewed in via the links on the right of this page. Each of the retreat themes can be run as a day retreat or a residential retreat.
It is the residential retreat that allows the optimum retreat experience for the confirmation candidates, allowing the young people to journey deeply with God and with each other. A residential retreat also allows more time to experience the Sacraments with the opportunity for sacramental reconciliation and Mass being integral parts of the retreat.
Each retreat will involve a variety of experiences including the following:
- activities and games created for the purpose of community building and to allow for a well rounded retreat experience that models a way of celebrating life. Activities are generally scheduled both indoor and outdoor unless weather does not permit us to be outdoors.
- group and individual prayer experiences.
- small-group sharing that allows the candidates to share in deeper ways and provides a safe environment for them to share their thoughts as well as ask questions.
- active meditation that allows the candidates to gain self awareness and insight.
- sessions designed to ‘unpack’ the retreat theme. This is done through a variety of methods based on the needs of each particular group. These methods include: personal testimony from the retreat team; use of media and songs; a led proclamation of a specific topic; skits and led meditations.
- creative workshops are sometimes used to explore the gospel message.
- testimonials from those who have made Christ the centre of their life – allowing the young people to reflect upon their own witness of the faith.
Retreats at SPEC are led by one of our employed programme leaders, supported by a team of young volunteers (aged 18-25) who have committed to a year or more in the SPEC community, sharing in its ministry and rhythm of prayer and undergoing their own journey of spiritual formation. This structure allows for the experience of the staff member to be complemented by ‘peer ministry’, through the enthusiasm and example of volunteers living a shared life of faith way that is a witness to living in opposition to many of the worldly values which permeate our society.
Retreat Theme Options
Catechetical programmes, whilst attempting to encapsulate the core of the faith, vary substantially in terms of the content; and for this reason we have developed three different retreat themes. It is not the intention to replace but rather to reinforce teaching and therefore it is recommended that the retreat chosen should best reflect the character of the catechetical programme that you run with your young people.
'Come follow me'
This retreat will allow the confirmation candidates an opportunity to reflect on what it means for them to make a personal response to Jesus’ call to discipleship - to ‘come, follow me’ - in today’s world. More...
'We are family': available from spring 2012
This retreat focuses on exploring the relational nature of God. We will focus on the life of the Trinity and how this also helps lead us into participation in our own communities. This retreat will focus on the Candidates own commitment to their parish community and awareness that they are part of One Apostolic Catholic Church. More...
'Unveiled': available from April 2012
This retreat theme explores the truth and beauty of the sacraments, looking deeply into the mystery and reality of the Lord’s presence in each sacrament as well as the graces and effects of living a ‘sacramental life’.
Our hope is that this retreat will allow the candidates to develop a deeper love for all the sacraments of the Church. More...