By Barb Arland-Fye
Joyce Kutscher of Holy Family Parish in Fort Madison hadn’t been to a retreat in years when she signed up for one through the Ministry Formation Program (MFP) last year. “I went because I was looking to enrich myself spiritually,” she says. “I enjoyed the whole day and so did the person who was with me.”
Because the experience inspired her, she’s planning to attend this year’s retreat to be held Sept. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mary Parish Center in Solon. “Any time I can help myself spiritually, I’m ready,” Kutscher says.
Organizers of this year’s retreat hope other people in the Diocese of Davenport feel the same way.
“We have only a few opportunities for adults to attend a day-long retreat in the diocese, so we open this retreat to all adults in the diocese. Other retreats are the Why Catholic annual retreat and the Day of Reflection which is held in February most years,” says IlaMae Hanisch, the diocese’s coordinator of ministry formation and adult/family formation.
The theme of this year’s retreat, “Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self,” takes the title of a book by Sister Joyce Rupp that will provide the retreat’s framework. Also during the retreat Bishop Martin Amos will celebrate Mass and students completing ministry formation classes will be commissioned.
“I like to use a book as a spiritual guide for the retreat because people can begin the process with the daylong retreat and continue the rest of the book at their own pace,” Hanisch says. “It gives them an opportunity to continue in an intentional way what began with the retreat day.”
She looks for books that are inspiring at a personal level, appropriate for men and women and that offer opportunities for personal reflection, guided meditation, communal dialogue, spoken prayer, theological reflection and faith-sharing.
Sr. Rupp’s book offers “skillfully written questions and stories to help each one of us evaluate and reflect in our own life about a situation or event and how that has challenged or affirmed our faith. Ultimately it is our personal union with God that brings fulfillment in life,” Hanisch added.
The annual retreat is required for those enrolled in any of the ministry formation programs in the diocese. But spouses and friends of participants in ministry formation also wanted to come to the retreat, so several years ago organizers decided to open it all adults in the diocese.
Margi and Ted Mountz of St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant attended previous MFP retreats to meet class requirements. They’re planning to attend this year’s — even without being in MFP classes.
“It was really nice to meet the members of your MFP class before you actually went to class. It brings everybody together at one time. It gives you a bigger picture of MFP,” Margi Mountz said.
She and her husband plan to attend this year’s retreat because of what they’ve taken away from previous ones. Last year’s focused on the Prayer of St. Francis. “I love the Prayer of St. Francis anyway, so I got a lot out of it,” she said. “It was very interactive and got everyone involved.”
Participants choose just how involved they want to get. They can reflect on the materials in small groups, or alone, Hanisch said.
“There are some times during the day when we will gather as a large group for prayer and reflection. Bishop Martin Amos will preside at the liturgy. The overall design of the day uses many different learning styles from which individuals may choose to meet their needs.”
Registration deadline is Sept. 11. Cost is $20, which includes retreat materials, lunch, snacks and a personal copy of Sr. Rupp’s book. To register, contact Barbara Butterworth at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hanisch at (641) 791-3435.