retreats. Our schedules did not allow us to go on either retreat together, so Jamie went to the spring
retreat last March, and I went to the fall retreat this past September. We both had great experiences.
Jamie’s experience: David had been encouraging me to go on the spring retreat. I said I would think
about it but I didn’t much…only at the times he brought it up. To be honest, the only reason I considered
going on the retreat at first was to get out of the house for a couple of days. But I thought that was a
selfish reason, so I pushed it aside. Then, it came to Wednesday evening before the retreat and I
decided I was not going. But Thursday rolled around and I had an uneasy feeling about my decision and
felt God really wanted me there. So at the last moment I decided to sign up. While still unsure and
anxious about going, I knew there had to be a reason if I felt that strongly about attending. I am a very
private person and I struggle with depression, so making this choice to go and leave my comfort zone
was not easy. I knew there was a possibility I would be exposing my vulnerabilities with others. But, I
know God has a way of using life’s experiences to encourage and help others; in the past I have been
helped through other people's experiences and knew it was a good possibility I would be on this retreat
Hearing the other talks where the presenters discussed their struggles, spending time in personal
reflection, and having quiet prayer time in adoration, all really helped me to understand my struggles
better. In our family we have both depression and mild autism, and this can be very difficult to deal with
and can weigh heavy on my shoulders at times. But God really spoke to my heart on this retreat and
showed me many things:
* To place my struggles in His hands and take things day by day. Trying to fix things myself does not
work; I need to give my troubles to God as He is the one who can perform the healing.
*To trust Him and be humble. God wanted me to place my trust in Him and to lay everything in my life
into His hands. This meant being humble and seeking advice and sharing my personal struggles and
vulnerability with others on the retreat. Did I have to? No. But God used those people to help me and
*To be thankful, especially for the difficulties in life. What?! Be thankful for the difficulties?! Why?!
Difficult things in life are well…difficult! But giving it all to God helped me see through the difficulties
and see the good in them.
*To be appreciative. I was angry at God for the struggles in my life, but God showed me to appreciate
all things and people in life, because he can use them and all situations in life to inspire and encourage
others to grow closer to Him. One way God showed me to be appreciative was through our daughter
Abigail, who has mild autism. We have had difficult struggles with her, especially when she was
younger, but they are nothing compared to the joy and blessings we have received because of the beautiful and unique person God created her to be. (I always tell her and encourage her that God made
her special and blessed her with autism.)
Overall I enjoyed everything about the retreat, but I can’t forget to mention the best part: winning in a
late night game of “Mafia”!
David’s experience: Initially I had really wanted to go because I knew what a great experience Jamie had
and I wanted to spend some time focusing on what God’s will was for me and my family. However, I
ended up having to schedule a 4-day business trip out to Utah earlier in the week. Since I did not wish to
be away from my family so much in one week, I decided that I wouldn’t go and let Jamie decide if she
wanted to go on it or not. But when I returned home from Utah on Wednesday, Jamie surprised me by
letting me know that she had signed me up for the retreat because she knew how much I wanted to go.
I was very surprised and am very grateful to her for setting this up for me.
I was very excited to go as this was my first retreat in several years but was a bit nervous going into it
because I had heard that not many people had signed up for it. The opening talks were good but God
really had something waiting for me in adoration that night. He performed some healing in me that I
really needed. I realized in my prayer that night that he wanted me to focus on using my strengths, the
gifts and talents that he had given me, instead of wishing and striving for the strengths of other people.
This had really been a challenge for me and a source of deep frustration. I then went to confession and
confessed the sin of envy, which I had never before confessed in my life. It was a very freeing
The next day was filled with good talks and good small group discussion. There was also plenty of free
time, which I enjoyed. Yes, there were plenty of planned talks and activities on the retreat, but there
was definitely enough time to unwind from the business of life and enjoy some silence, which helped
me focus on what God had in mind for me on the retreat. We also had adoration on the second night,
and I took advantage of the prayer teams available and had a good experience being prayed over.
Jamie and I would definitely recommend that everyone consider going on the next retreat; you just
never know what God may have planned for you! Whether your experience is great or small, you WILL
enjoy the quiet time, self-reflection/ prayer time and the blessing to recoup before heading back into
the business of life. We hope you take the time to prayerfully consider attending the parish retreats.