I had no intention of attending a CRHP retreat. I would sit in my pew listening half-heartedly to people speaking about it, knowing that I would never go. I had been through RCIA ten years before, I loved God and the Church and I thought that was enough. I was content to attend Mass on Sundays and leave feeling satisfied that I had fulfilled my obligation. I wasn’t completely happy, but I didn’t think that had anything to do with my spiritual life. I thought things would be better when more of my worldly needs (money, more time, less stress) were met.
It was only at the invitation of a close friend that I attended CRHP. Even then I went reluctantly. But on that weekend I opened my heart to God’s will, instead of my plan. At first, I failed to see how a shy, quiet girl who had been raised Protestant could help build up the Church. Sometimes God would tell me what He wanted directly, through a Scripture verse that might as well have said “Hey, Anita, do this!” Other times it was members of the group providing insight or a perspective that hadn’t occurred to me.
CRHP was the beginning for me. It has started a journey that I hope never ends. It is not always easy, and sometimes I fail. The difference is that I know I can always come back to God and He will show me the way.
"Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. The pressures of today's world can feel all encompassing. Meeting the financial needs of a family, maintaining a career in uncertain economic times, and raising children in a society that often seems to glamorize the wrong things is often a heavy burden to carry. At a time when God's guidance is probably needed most, it feels as though there is never time to stop, take a deep breath and think about what is important in the midst of rushing to work, to kid’s activities, and social activities. With no time in my "busy" schedule for God, life's challenges and activities became stressful and Mass became a mundane one hour per week obligation. I didn't understand at the time that no different than anything else in life, if you do not give a relationship your time it becomes stale.
The CRHP retreat gave me the opportunity amidst the chaos of daily life to find a few quiet moments to regroup and focus on what is truly important in life, and what I want my life to be about. During that 36 hour period I was able to tune out the noise of daily life and start to find clarity on what is really important: my relationship with God and my vocation as a husband and father. As this occurred, I found a level of peace and happiness that I had not experienced at any other time in my life. While I probably missed a couple of my kid's soccer games that weekend, I am confident that in the long run they gained much more from my attendance.
One weekend retreat did not solve my life's problems or make me a good Dad, husband or Catholic. However, it did help me re-focus and begin to understand the things I need to do to become the person God created me to be. That clarity has brought happiness to me and my family. If your faith has become stale, or you feel like you're going through the motions I would encourage you to consider giving a small amount of your time to God and attending the CRHP retreat to see if tuning out the noise for a weekend might bring you peace, rest and happiness, as it has brought so many others.
What brought me to CRHP?
There were a few reasons that I went to the CRHP retreat. Despite being in the parish for almost 11 years, I felt I knew no one apart from the people my husband and I would sit by at our regular mass. I had heard about CRHP many times before and could see the bond that the ladies had created from this retreat. I desired that bond. I desired to simply know somebody. I had recently become a stay-at-home mom, as well, which was overwhelming to me. My husband had told me he planned to go on the upcoming retreat, so I took advantage of it, too. Everyone needs time away. As it was only fair, right?
What did I receive from CRHP?
I can't adequately express to you how necessary that weekend was for me, and for the formation that followed as well. CRHP has allowed me to strengthen my Catholic faith and deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ. The women I met were once strangers but are much more than just friends. They are spiritual sisters who encourage me with love, prayer, and biblical wisdom. And who couldn't use a little bit of that? Because of my CRHP experience, I feel called to be more active in our parish, volunteering in different ministries and events. As a mom, I hope that my experience in CRHP extends a generation to my children. I hope they see that by listening to God's call, what I do is not only for me, but for them, and Him as well.
2 years ago I said yes to the CRHP weekend after pushing aside the hesitation that delayed my attendance for well over a year. What I was able to take away from this weekend was very much a surprise. Long lasting friendships, perspective on daily life, and spiritual growth only shares my experience from the surface.
To put it simply I was humbled by the faith filled journeys the retreat team shared with us attending. Each with different challenges, victories, and lessons learned from there life that together and through Christ made them the men they are today. Many had journeys similar to mine, others added new perspective, but all inspired me to have a stronger desire for Christ, to lead my family to heaven, and put my faith in all I do.
There are many individuals I owe thanks to for planting seeds and eventually getting me on this weekend. This may be your seed or better yet your opportunity, so please consider attending.
"We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" Corinthians 5:7
Before I came to CRHP, I had never been to a retreat. I have never had
an experience like that before. The bible verses made it inspirational, and
the message that I got from CRHP is be your own person. I want to do it
After completing RCIA back in the Spring of 2011, I was told by many people in the parish that I should attend the CRHP retreat. I wasn’t totally sure it was for me as I had spent most of my adult life not going to church at all… and now I was going to go on a weekend retreat? It sounded like something that someone else would do, but just as when I finally signed up for RCIA I decided to trust my spiritual instincts and attend.
I entered my CRHP weekend expecting “something”…but I really had no idea what. What transpired over the course of that weekend exceeded any and all my expectations. Afterwards, I felt so much closer to God and wanting to explore my faith to its fullest. I realized how truly blessed I was, appreciating my wife, family and life even more deeply. As a bonus I felt I had made about thirty new, great friends. Men who I would have never guessed I had so much in common with, not just in shared interest in our Catholic faith, but who had so many similar life experiences.
CRHP has helped me become vastly more spiritual, to feel comfortable with my faith and fully part of the parish. In addition, has given me a group of men that I am comfortable talking to about anything. I now regularly study the Bible, pray daily (often multiple times a day) and am forming better habits in every aspect of my life.
CRHP may not be for everyone, but if you are interested in growing in their faith and becoming more involved with the parish, then you can’t help but benefit from attending a CRHP weekend. I urge you to give this retreat one weekend of your life. I promise you…you will not only not be sorry...you will be very glad you did.
Before CRHP, I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to be Catholic anymore, but after my experience, I was renewed! I have a better relationship with God, I pray daily, and go to Church every Sunday, and really take it all in! Along with the spiritual side of my experience, I have made some great friends that I can call my sisters! It was a wonderful experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
.... Kati Twellman
Growing up Catholic, I always thought I had a good relationship with God. Boy was I wrong. CRHP helped me to understand that I was standing on the sidelines. After CRHP weekend, I now feel like I am in the game. Do I consider myself an all-star on God's team? No, not yet, but I do feel like I am a starting player. CRHP has provided me a team of men, which I call brothers, to establish a successful career. The retreat has enabled me to understand the true meaning of my faith. CRHP has inspired me to be a better husband, father, brother, son and friend. CRHP is not just a retreat weekend but a spiritual journey in our relationship with God. God does not want us to be a bench warmer, he is calling us to get into the game.
…Dennis Knop, CRHP XII
I have been on many retreats over the years and each has contributed to my faith life in different ways. The difference with the CRHP retreat is that it goes on after the week-end. You have these deep feelings for the other participants built on continuing prayer and spiritual support. I won't hesitate on recommending it to any one. My only regret is that I waited so long to attend.
.... Judy Faulkenberry
I had been approached a couple of times by members of the parish to attend a Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) retreat and each time I would have an excuse of why I could not attend. Being very new to the parish I was apprehensive because I didn’t know anyone in the parish. After the third time I was approached, I agreed to go. I felt that I would not benefit much from the retreat as I have been an active catholic all my adult life. I attend mass every week and have been a leader in youth ministries for 18 years. During the weekend it became apparent to me how CRHP would strengthen my faith and family life. I would have to say the uncertainty of what the weekend was about played a factor of my not participating sooner. I now realize that it makes it much more exciting and beneficial experience. I have become friends with a great group of men that I can depend on helping me when needed, whether it be spiritually, emotionally or just everyday advice. The investment of my time for one weekend has returned benefits in my life many-fold.
… Mark DiCicco, CRHP XII
It is difficult for me to put into words what CRHP has meant to me. Before the retreat, I always felt like I was going through the motions of being a Catholic but something was missing. CRHP has easily changed my life. My priorities are different. . . God is first for me now. I cannot believe the bond that I have formed with these women. I look forward to meeting with my CRHP sisters every week. . . . I know I am going to come out of the meeting feeling rejuvenated and fantastic. It is a truly amazing journey and I cannot wait for what is to come!!
… Carrie Bischof, CRHP XII
For several years prior to attending my CRHP weekend in October, 2009, I was approached by many men and women in the parish who had already been through the process. I was told again and again how wonderful it was, how it changed their lives, how it made them better spouses, parents and friends. I was told that I needed to experience it, too. But, it didn’t sound like anything for me, so I politely passed on their offers to attend a weekend. It just didn’t feel right.
Sometime late in the summer of 2009, something changed. By now, all my friends that had been through CRHP had stopped pestering me, probably because they saw me as a lost cause. God, thankfully, hadn’t given up on me, though. During this time, He opened my eyes just a bit. With my new enhanced sight, I looked again upon these men and women that had tried to share with me the experience of CRHP. What I saw immediately changed my mind about CRHP. I now could see that each of these men and women were genuinely good people. They were good parents, good friends, and most importantly, good Christians who seemed to have a great relationship with Jesus Christ. If CRHP could possibly help me pick up some of those attributes, then it certainly couldn’t hurt me to give up one weekend of my life.
As October rolled around, some of my old doubts came back. I entered my CRHP weekend expecting a lot. I walked into the process hoping to be bowled over, but expecting to be disappointed. Let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed. My CRHP weekend exceeded my hopes in every way! My eyes were truly opened that weekend. I finally realized how wonderfully blessed I am in so many ways. Instead of lamenting my life and wishing for so much more, I could see how special I was and how gracious our God has been to me. I realized that I had been trying to live a self-directed life instead of a Christ-directed life. And, I realized how much work I really had to do to become the man that God wanted me to be.
Immediately after our weekend, my CRHP group began our Formation process where we prepared to give a weekend to the next group of men. As amazing as the first weekend was, the Formation process and giving a CRHP weekend six months later was indescribably better and more fulfilling. What I took from that process, I can’t accurately describe in words, but I’ll carry it with me the rest of my life.
So, in a nutshell, what did CRHP do for me? Well, what CRHP didn’t do was magically fix me. It did, however, open my eyes to the many errors of my ways. It gave me an incredible group of friends that act as a support group and work to keep all of us on the path to salvation. It created in me a thirst for an enhanced faith; one that includes more prayer, full participation in the mass, and a desire to learn more about the Word of God. And, it helped me to reprioritize my life and gave me the ability to get myself back on track when I inevitably fall off.
CRHP may not be for everyone, but I’d be hard pressed to find a Catholic who was interested in growing in their faith that wouldn’t benefit from attending a CRHP weekend. Really, what could it hurt?
... Jerry Monahan, CRHP XI
I started my CRHP weekend thinking “why am I doing this?” to leaving the weekend thinking “my relationship with God has truly begun.” My life has changed because I have changed. CRHP and my weekly formation meetings have allowed me to form a family within my church, to deepen my spirituality, to appreciate the catholic religion to a greater degree, and most importantly to take time out for myself to be a better person, mother, and wife.
… Dr. Whitney Hamed
"What a beautiful testament to God taking us and loving us right where we are right now, no matter what! This is a gift for ANYONE!"
… Jan Unterreiner
Before CRHP I was feeling lost in my faith. I was attending Mass weekly with my family and praying almost daily, but I still felt I was missing something. The phrase “going through the motions” comes to mind. I had been contemplating attending a Christ Renews His Parish retreat for a while, but there was always an excuse not to go. I’m glad I finally decided to say yes! I went into the CRHP weekend with no expectations and no idea what to expect. I came out of the weekend truly renewed. Seeing Jesus’s influence in the lives of ordinary men, men like me, forced me to review my priorities and renew my commitment to Him. If successful, confident men could succumb themselves to His will, then so could I. By no means did the weekend “fix” me. I am still a work in progress, but I am now more aware Jesus in my life. I find myself praying more often now and being more engaged when I do. I try to read the Bible when I can. I have started attending morning Mass during the week and find myself much more engaged in the Mass, more of a participant instead of an observer. What a great way to start my day! I like to think that I have become a better spiritual leader for my family since the CRHP weekend. The CRHP retreat also provided me a group of men that I am honored to call my brothers. I continue to draw on my CRHP experiences and brothers daily as I attempt to strengthen my faith and relationship with Jesus.