Planning a Group Retreat
Some suggestions for making and planning a retreat
"The fruit of a retreat is a clearer vision of one's vocation in life and a brighter willingness to follow it faithfully".
A retreat is a time set apart for reflection, prayer, spiritual growth and refreshment. Retreats can be guided, directed or preached, they can be conducted largely in silence and solitude, or incorporate varying degrees of group interaction and faith sharing. A retreat can range from just a few hours to several days.
Step 1) Discuss these ideas with your group:
- what do you think a retreat is about
- how much time can you spend on retreat
- what outcomes do you expect
- how do you imaging spending the time together
- who/how you want the retreat conducted
You may find this becomes a circular discussion that may go on for awhile - but don't worry! Even if you're still not clear on every aspect, this preliminary discussion all helps.
Step 2) When you've got some idea of when/how long then contact our Retreat Centre for suitable dates - we'll do our best to match your times - and one of our team can assist with the planning. This process of finalizing a date and format will help clarify the issues that surfaced in your preliminary discussion.
Step 3) Experiencing the retreat!
Step 4) Follow-up - set a time for your group to meet and share the impact of the retreat. Share some thoughts on how you want to continue this dimension of your life.
Formats that work
Morning Retreats: 9am - 12 noon ~ These begin and end with a prayer service which may include a brief guided meditation. Participants are provided with a simple prayer exercise to help them with a solitary reflection. If appropriate, the group may have an opportunity to share their experience prior to the conclusion of the retreat. This format is helpful in introducing people to contemplative forms of prayer.
Evening Retreats: 4pm - 8pm ~ These follow a similar pattern to morning retreats, but also include an evening meal at 6pm. This format can suit groups such as school staff, Boards of Trustees and other busy people who recognize the need to devote time as a group to prayer and reflection.
Time-Out Days: 9.30am - 2.30pm ~ These begin and end with a prayer service. Lunch is provided. Participants are offered various reflective exercises to do in the quiet time. Team members are available for guidance. St Francis Retreat Centre offers Time-Out Days throughout the year (see Retreat Programme) but can also arrange time-out days to suit the needs of a particular group at other times.
Residential Retreats: 24hours - 7 days ~ Residential Retreats have the advantage of offering a greater opportunity for rest and solitary reflection. There is much more scope for input, guidance and solitary reflection, depending on the approach each group wished to take. Residential Retreats can be conducted over almost any combination of days, and for any duration. However, if people are new to the practise of retreats, or resuming after a long interval, it's advisable to begin with a short retreat, rather than a longer one.