Welcome to the resource page for using Alive in the Word to host a retreat in your home or parish. Whether you’re planning a catechist retreat, a parish retreat, or a day of reflection with friends, we hope you find this page useful. Below you will find some tips for hosting your retreat, and some printable pdfs of a Sample Schedule as well as Opening and Closing Prayers. These prayer services are specifically written for use with Lent: Season of Transformation. But of course you can use any Alive in the Word book as content for your retreat! All you need is one book for each participant. Take advantage of our bulk pricing for groups!VIEW ALL ALIVE IN THE WORD TITLES VIEW A SAMPLE
Click below to download a Sample Schedule (for In-Person or Online Retreats), an Opening Prayer, and a Closing Prayer.
Retreat Planning Tips
Tips for online retreat gatherings. Many of the tips on this page apply to in-person gatherings, but some will be helpful in planning your online retreat. A few basic tips specific to an online retreat are as follows:
- Communicate with your group in advance about how you will meet and what times the sessions will be (see Sample Schedule above for one option).
- You may want to have a brief online gathering the week or the day before the retreat to be sure everyone is comfortable logging into the gatherings, muting and unmuting microphones, and communicating with each other online.
- As your retreat day begins and your group adjusts to praying and sharing together online, take your time and let things unfold naturally. Keep a relaxed atmosphere and a sense of humor—this will be a new experience for many!
- Feel free to adapt your retreat schedule as the day progresses if things are taking a longer (or shorter) time than expected. Stay flexible and keep your group informed as you go!
- Tips for an individual, self-guided retreat. If you are enjoying a retreat day on your own, you don’t need to use a schedule or follow any specific timeline. Read, reflect, and pray at your leisure. Be sure to allow yourself time for a quiet walk or any other relaxing activities during your retreat day. Relish the day’s quiet; the gentle rhythm of reading, prayer, and rest; and the time alone with God.
- General Retreat Tips
- Every group is unique. Keep your particular group in mind as you plan your retreat. Does your group like a lot of quiet time? Do you want more time for fellowship? Try to plan a day that will challenge your group but not frustrate them. You want plenty of time for people to think, relax, and pray, but not so much “down time” that people get bored or lose focus.
- Two or three sessions? If you feel that the retreat day in the “Sample Schedule” is too long for your group, you may want to use only two sessions from the book rather than three. Your retreatants can then take their books with them and read the final session themselves at home when they are ready.
- Read in advance. If you are hosting the retreat, you may wish to read the book you are using in advance. This allows you to confidently introduce the topic at the beginning of the retreat, and if you need to address any hospitality concerns as the retreat day is going along, you will have already done the reading and can still participate in group discussion.
- Be flexible. Feel free to adapt the day as you go along. For example, if lunch does not take as long as you had planned, you can move forward with the retreat and simply end the day a bit earlier. If you find that groups are getting off-topic during the small group discussion times, you may wish to shorten those time periods. Feel free to be flexible for the sake of everyone’s retreat experience.
- Lunch options. Consider having everyone bring their own lunch, or make the retreat day a potluck lunch. This cuts down on the cost and time commitment in planning the retreat.
- Welcoming retreatants. At the beginning of your retreat day, offer everyone a warm welcome. Be sure everyone knows where to find restrooms and what spaces are available to them during their quiet reading and prayer times. If you are hosting a retreat in your home, it is helpful if there are several rooms or areas where people can spread out to read and relax during those quiet times.
- Introductions. Giving everyone the opportunity to introduce themselves at the beginning of your retreat day will break the ice and allow everyone to put names with faces. If everyone in your group already knows each other, you can still give each person an opportunity to speak at the beginning of the retreat by asking an opening question (e.g., “What brought you here today?” or “What do you hope to gain from today?”) or by opening up to prayer requests that may serve as prayer intentions for the day.
- Let everyone know what to expect. While you won’t necessarily want to provide your retreatants with a detailed schedule, you may wish to provide them with a basic schedule for the day (without times inserted so you can be flexible as the day unfolds). Go over the schedule together so everyone knows what to expect. (Alternatively, you can simply explain to everyone how the day will be structured if you don’t wish to provide a schedule to each person.)
- Small Groups. Plan in advance how you will split your retreatants up into small groups for the Small Group Discussion times. If you follow the suggested schedule, you will have three opportunities for Small Group Discussion. You might like to keep the same groups together throughout the day so they can get to know each other better and become comfortable as a group. Or you may wish to have everyone switch around into different small groups so they meet new people or have a different group dynamic each time. Groups of 4–5 people are recommended.
Large Group Sharing. For the Large Group Sharing time at the end of the day, you may wish to have a few questions prepared to get the conversation and sharing started. Some possibilities might be:
- Did you learn anything new today, from the reading or from a fellow retreatant?
- Did you have any insights today during your prayer and reflection time that you are willing to share?
- Was anything said during your small group discussion time that you would like to share with the larger group?
- What “nugget” of wisdom or new way of thinking will you take with you today as you go?
- Your #1 focus. Pray for your fellow retreatants as the retreat day approaches. This will help you stay focused on the most important thing—not the schedule, the refreshments, or hosting a perfect retreat—but providing a place where those who love God and God’s Word can gather together for rest, prayer, and mutual encouragement.
Questions? Feel free to reach out to Amy Ekeh, the director of Little Rock Scripture Study, with questions or concerns. Amy is an experienced retreat director and is happy to help in any way she can as you plan your retreat day. You can reach Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 320-363-2081