What happens at an ACTS retreat?
  • Recently this retreat was promoted at our parish. It seems similar to the Cursillo in that you don't get to know what happens there until you go--but you wouldn't want to know and you are going to love it.

    I found my Cursillo experience to be very manipulative and overall a negative experience and a waste of time.

    I in no way feel bound to keep their "secrets" and would eventually like to write up a little flyer or pamphlet that I could hand out so others don't get snookered.

    I have heard that the ACTS retreat is worse. Can anyone give some details?
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • My feelings exactly about Cursillo. Very manipulative.
  • Cursillo, ACTS, CRHP.... all the same thing.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    Here's a description of how ACTS retreats got started:

    CRHP ("Christ Renews His Parish") was a similar retreat movement, which has now been merged into Matthew Kelly's "Dynamic Catholic" organization; the new version of the retreat is described here.
  • No experience with any of these, except that two people I know sing the praises of Cursillo. (I remain firmly in the doubting column, however, because of my mistrust of all the Encounter-spin-offs.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    Something called Alpha reared its ugly head here a couple of years ago. I knew what it was and was glad when the majority of our people refused to participate.

    Its always about renewal. Being the curmudgeon that I am, I asked, "how can you renew what you never had?"
  • I attended a CRHP retreat in the early 90's. I would say the experience was a mixed bag for me. I was very happy about the nice relationship I developed with the others who were in my retreat group. We continued meeting fairly regularly over the next 2 years (as required by the program) and really got to know each other very well. However, the strong emotionalism evoked by their plan of having retreat members (from the previous group) give their own "testimony" was a bit off-putting. The whole thing is designed to try to get a big emotional response through the way the weekend is scheduled.

    I think they are well-meaning, but just don't really like that touchy-feely stuff so much. Others in the group thought it was really fantastic, so... ymmv. After the weekend retreat, the group met regularly with the intent of having each person in the group have the opportunity to share personal details of their "faith journey" with the others. So, over the time between our retreat and the next retreat when our group were the presenters, much really personal information was shared among the group. And, based on those personal stories, the group chose certain members of the group to be the ones who gave their own testimonies at the next retreat.

    The best part of the whole thing was getting to know a sort of cross-section of women from our parish over a couple of years' time. That was really nice. If we could have achieved that without all the emotionalism of the actual weekend, it would have suited me better.

    It's obviously been a few years and my memory may be failing me, but I don't know that there was any emphasis at all on actually learning anything about the faith or anything really Catholic. It seemed to be more modeled on a sort of protestant retreat thing where the success is measured by how many people are emotionally touched (and perhaps tears shed)...
    Thanked by 2CharlesW cesarfranck
  • PS: We all referred to it as "Chirp" (haha)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Janet,

    It sounds as if the problem wasn't that there were emotions expressed on the retreat, but that emotion was the end, not a means.
  • Well.. in the sense that the program helped groups of people in the parish get to know and love each other, it was also a success in that way over the course of time. I'm not really sure that emotional drama of the testimonies is truly that necessary to achieve the end goal of building parish community.

    The real goal of the whole program (not just the retreat weekend) was to build up the parish community and to encourage friendship among its parishioners, so perhaps it was a success in that regard.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    ACTS was very active at my former parish in St. Louis. I did one of the retreats because I felt that, if something was that important in that parish community, I should try it and see. There were some very positive things (the team-building aspects) and I felt like it was a good thing for the parish in many ways (many lukewarm people had a better picture of the importance of their faith in their lives after it). But, it had/has a tendency to overtake the parish and take on a life of its own. I was endlessly hearing of people wanting to do "retreat songs" instead of liturgical music, but not wanting to do this in a context of adoration, etc., which would make more sense. So, in that sense, I think it's important for the clergy, etc., to "manage" the retreat and try to line it up with the parish's true ethos.
  • I have been on a retreat like that. It seems to really fit for people who are searching for "belonging," but it somes across as controlling and emotionally manipulative. I was not a fan and never did a retreat like that again, but I had friends who ended up helping at them for years. Different strokes?