ACTS retreat

I will going on an ACTS retreat and have never been on any retreat. Could I get some feedback on this retreat and any others.

Thank You

There are many different kinds of retreats…some with focus such as a vocational retreat. Some with lots of silence. And a process retreat such as ACTS, CRHP, TEC, etc.

These process retreats have an amazing effect on people…opportunities for great conversion. One of the major workings though, is that the retreatants are open, and are vulnerable. The less you know going in, the more effective it will be for you. Let the people staffing the retreat care for you and take care of you and enjoy the experience.

:thumbsup: I went on a Search retreat as a youth and it completely changed my life. It really opened my eyes and was the catalist of my journey through our faith.

Every retreat experience is different. I was on team for several of those retreats afterward and each time the Spirit opened my eyes to somthing new.

Just be open to what He has to say.

has been discussed widely on the spirituality forum, altho not recently. yes, depending on who is running it, can be a lifechanging event, but also calls for commitment after the retreat, it is not a feel-good one time event, it has as one of its aims to prepare one for service to the Church and God’s people.

I’m not sure what I am doing. I am a new member and I submitted this as an Apolgetics question yesterday. After submitting it I realized my question was way too long and likely will not be answered because I didn’t follow the rules. So, I will try again here.

Does anyone know anything about ACTS retreats? Do Catholics recommend this? What are the long-term effects of attending one? My husband went on one in mid-April. I thought it was a good thing. I thought it would help him have a stronger faith, a better relationship with our Lord and maybe help him develop friendships among the guys he went with. Those might be possible outcomes (I don’t know because we haven’t spoken much), but there is another outcome that is certainly not good, at least not thus far.

He won’t talk to me about the retreat because that is a rule. That was a great big red flag for me, but apparently, secrecy is part of the whole experience. What happened there cannot be shared except with the ~30 guys he went with and their wives that have also gone on an ACTs retreat. I’ve asked him several questions and he has answered them in vague ways. I know there were talks and discussions. I know there was Mass and Reconciliation and Scripture study. I know it was a profound experience. I know he shared personal things with the guys he went with. I know he even cried. I sent him a letter and also went to “Candle Light” as requested by the retreat organizers because I was told it was a supportive, good thing to do. That is about all I know. His responses to my questions were vague, followed by: “You need to find out by going on an ACTS retreat yourself.” Since I’ve told him I didn’t have an interest in going myself, he has stopped saying that. So, we have this wall between us now. I find the whole thing a bit disturbing, a bit cult-like. Is the secrecy a way to generate attendance at these things? He says it is important to find things out only by experiencing them personally. He gave his word that he won’t share the secrets, so I will never find out what he experienced on his retreat. I have no problem with him keeping his word and keeping his secrets. But, I do wonder what the future holds for us. With the lack of communication between us now, I can’t see it as good.

We’ve barely spoken at all during the time that he has been back partly because life is busy but also because I keep running into this “wall” relating to his “secret society.” I thought distractions and time would help me get past this, but now I am not so sure. I am hurt, angry and bewildered by the whole situation. I thought things would be fine as we got back to life post-retreat and keep up with our three children, but instead I keep getting reminded that maybe life post-retreat can’t exist since it seems the retreat will continue with follow-ups. I’ve been reminded constantly since his return that he is keeping secrets from me and that the wall remains and may be getting higher. He has received many e-mails from his new buddies and he went to a 3-hour meeting with them on Wednesday evening. Then he went to Mass with them on Saturday morning and had another meeting. Apparently, he is going to be meeting with these guys on a regular basis because meetings/Mass are again scheduled for Wednesday and Saturday. It is ironic to me that in my letter to him, I affirmed our wedding vows and my commitment to him, but now I feel so lost and he feels so removed from me. It seems that while I was affirming our marriage, he was committing to this group of guys and the “secret society” they formed on the retreat. I find it disturbing that he went off with a bunch of strangers for a couple of days. They asked him to keep secrets upon his return and he acquiesced quite readily, apparently.

Some of the other wives have acted like I should be thrilled that he went on this retreat, that this is an amazing thing, that this is good for our marriage, good for our family, good for our church community. Maybe it is good for THEM and they are sharing more with their husbands since most of them have also gone on an ACTS retreat, but that is not the case for US and I’m really having a difficult time seeing how that will ever be possible. How do I get past this? How can I see it as a good thing? If he has a better relationship with God, then that is a good thing, and I guess that may yet be the case. But, I hadn’t counted on the destructive effects on our marriage, though, and I am not liking what I’ve experienced so far. Communication is pretty much gone.

Can you help me or offer me advice? There is another ACTS retreat offered for the ladies again in September, but I really do not want to go. To be honest, I do not want anything to do with it, but even so, I am living with the effects daily now. Is my only recourse to go on an ACTS retreat myself in order to reestablish communication with my husband? Can something be a good thing if it puts a wedge between husband and wife and encourages (demands?) that someone keep secrets from their spouse? Am I overreacting and being too sensitive? Am I wrong to have this reaction and feel the way I do?

Dear Swizzle,

I am so sorry this has been the affect for you. I am not married, however, when I was in college, when friends went on the awakening before I did, I felt a similar way. I felt left out in a way, because they wouldn’t tell me what they did. Because of that, out of spite, I didnt’ want to go. It was simply pride that kept me from signing up for awhile. Finally, I decided to go anyway, and I found out that there were reasons that they didn’t tell me. Not to be secretive, but so that I could experience it myself! It was out of love that they didnt’ tell me.

Please understand, it is not “secrecy” as you put it. There are 2 main reasons things cannot be shared:

1-the personal nature of the talks. It is a confidentiality agreement not to share the speakers personal lives with the rest of the world. If your husband was a doctor or psychologist, or counselor he couldn’t tell you about the patients he sees. A spiritual director, whether a priest or not, does not share the personal nature of their “clients” with anyone else. Policemen can’t talk about their jobs in detial. This is a similar idea.
It is out of respect for them that he doesn’t tell you about their lives.

2-So that you may get to experience it yourself. Trust me, he could tell you what happened, and you’d think “Why is that a big deal”? It doesn’t make sense until you experience it yourself. You have to experience it in order for it to make sense. If he told you what happened he would rob you of the joy of it someday. Even if you did not go, telling you might lead to you accidentally sharing with someone else, which would spoil it for someone else. Because you didnt’ experience it, you wouldn’t understand the nature of it, and therefore not comprehend why it shouldnt’ be shared with someone else.

This experience might not be for everyone, however, please consider going so that you can share in it with him. Please understand, it isn’t about YOU at all. This is him loving you and not wanting to spoil things for you or others. This is him not blabbing other people’s lives when he has been trusted confidently. Do not let this be a wedge. That is your choice to be bitter about it. Please do not be. Don’t let pride or spite get in the way of going yourself.

:thumbsup: Yes and yes!

When my friend talked me into going on a similar retreat in college. Shecould not tell me what to expect no matter how much I bugged her.

I can basically relate it to “letting go and letting God” as you do not have any temporal worries on this type of retreat.

one of the things that happens at an ACTS retreat is a deep level of sharing on a spiritual level with the other participants, something that would be impossible if all did not agree that “what happens at ACTS stays here.” It is a matter of confidentiality and must be respected.

Dear Swizzle,

I agree with agapewolf.

Here is my story.
About a year ago, I had 4 different people tell me that they had just returned from an ACTS retreat. They all had the exact same response.
It was wonderfullll! :slight_smile: I also had a teen tell me that she had been on one last summer and that it changed her life. I never even heard of it before this.

After hearing all of this, I decided that maybe I should go and find out what it was all about. I wanted to know what the BIG deal was that people were talking about. I will also mention that it also seemed very secretive to me. I questioned others who had been on this retreat. The response was always the same. “It’s wonderful and you will find out when you go.” Because I had already registered, I decided to stop asking questions and to just wait to see what it was all about.

Well, I attended my retreat about a month ago. NOW, I can say it was absolutely wonderful! It has definitely changed my life. If you know exactly what is planned, then the experience will not be the same. This is why your husband doesn’t say much to you. It will spoil the entire spiritual experience. Please don’t let this be a barrier between you and your husband. Please, please think about going to the one in September. At least you will be able to experience what your husband has experienced. I will also say that quite a few ladies who went on the same one as I did were asked several times in the past by others (relatives or friends) to go to one, and they finally said “yes” now they are happy they did.
They do have a follow-up group that meets once a week for the ones who are interested. We started our follow-up group today and it was great.
Remember, every lady who goes on this retreat will be in the unknown. If you decide to go, just go without any expectations and let the Lord guide you.

Good Luck!
If you do decide to go, if you don’t mind, then let us know what your thoughts are. Who knows, maybe you will be encouraging others to go as I have done.

Dear SwizzleStick,

Sorry, but I accidently referred to you as Swizzle. Please accept my apology.


Same thing happened after my father attended ACTS at his parish. My mother has trouble traveling and could not attend a similar women’s ACTS retreat. She felt very left out.

After the retreat, the men’s ACTS group got together and started a choir singing terrible popular Chirstian music that is not Catholic or even licsensed/purchased by the parish…i.e…they didn’t buy sheet music, just ripped the music off! The spouses/families of the men were only invited to sing with the choir is they had also been to an ACTS retreat. (my mother has been very active in music ministry at that parish for years and is the one who got my father involved in the first place…add insult to injury, her choir was sort of “passed over” in favor of the new men’s group…and they are not good singers…so we’ve got bad music, illegally copied, sung badly instead of dedicated people who have given years to the parish but hadn’t joined “the ACTS club”) :frowning:

Those rules and the awful music drove a wedge between my parents for a few months! They have a STRONG 40-yr marriage. Dad finally got similarly fed up with some of the personal things going on inside the men’s group.

My parish is hoping to have ACTS soon…I’m not sold on them yet. I understand that it is intended to build commitment to service, but in the case I’ve seen, it did the opposite. It may be because of decisions the pastor made, I don’t know.

And there were a small number of priests that behaved immorally so we should blame the whole church for it…COME ON!

Obviously things were handled badly, but you cannot blame ACTS for it.

If someone is disabled, then they could go on a similar retreat that has different accomodations…such as CRHP or something. (many similar things happen).

Not blaming ACTS, just saying what my experience has been with it. Cool out. Did you see where I said it could have very well been the pastor? So far, I have to say that I haven’t seen good come out of ACTS, and that’s the truth.

Another type of retreat would not do in this situation, because of the “clique” attitude in that parish acround ACTS. It was basically ACTS or the highway.

Thats exactly what you are doing…blaming acts.

Another type of retreat would do…as long as the “encounter” experience is experienced, there is an understanding. She could then approach the acts folks in conversation about her experience, to which they would know that she “Gets it”.

I’ve studied these processes very thoroughly, and I work in parish ministry. They are very similar, and once a person understands that the person they are talking with has experienced the same thing with a different name, then common experience is understood.

Here’s the point…if ACTS is meant to ultimately send people back to the parish to get involved in ministry, it seems very wrong to shut existing ministries down in order to make room for ACTS people to do their thing. Even if that was a decision by the pastor, why would these ACTS people who supposedly “get it” go along with that?

These guys came back from a Christian retreat with the idea that it was OK to steal Amy Grant songs that they learned during the experience and use them in a Catholic Mass. I don’t see how that is adding anything to our church.

And MY point is…it has nothing to do with ACTS itself.

and what do you mean stole? It is not illegal to transcribe chord charts from hearing a song and singing it at church. You don’t need a license to do that.

And I had to stop our CRHP group at our parish from dubbing CD’s of songs used…it was just ignorance. It was not the CRHP retreat itself.

Anybody who hasn’t been to an ACTS retreat has to take your word on that, because the retreatants don’t share much.


I just attended an ACTS retreat about a month ago. We haven’t started a choir, nor have we stolen music. We haven’t prevented anyone from participating in any ministries what so ever. We did sing at the Mass when we returned, but we sang the same songs the choir would have sung (the music was selected by our music director, not the ACTS director).

To the O.P.: ACTS is a very moving experience. Did it change my life? Maybe not in a major way, but it has helped me on my journey. As several people have noted, the secrecy has to do largely with the personal nature of the things discussed. Many things were talked about that may never have been revealed if there weren’t an agreement that what was said was to stay with the participants. Those were, to me, some of the most moving parts of the retreat.

My wife is planning on attending the women’s ACTS retreat that my parish is sponsoring this fall. I will talk to her then about the retreat, but the discussions that I participated in will not be part of the conversation out of respect to the other 45 men who shared their personal stories.

I would definately recommend the retreat. I think that almost everyone who attended the retreat benefitted.



Thank you all for your responses. It appears that the consensus is mostly that I should just lighten up and get over this. I must admit that that will be hard to do. I want to clarify that I do not care about the retreat, I no longer question hubby about the retreat (I only did that the first and maybe the second day after his return) and don’t really have any curiosity about the “secrets” he holds about that. His keeping his word is not what bothers me. What I find disturbing is that he continues to keep a distance from me. Perhaps he is reacting to my distance brought on by my anger, hurt and bewilderment, though. That is possible, I guess.

But, his choices continue to hurt and baffle me. When he got back from retreat, families were supposed to welcome the retreatrants and attend Mass with them. Except the retreatants all sat together and the families sat separately. No problem, I guess, but the exclusion of his family continues like he wants to maintain this special relationship with the other retreatants. The week after the retreat, hubby had an outing (golf) with some of the retreatants, which meant that he went to an early Mass by himself in order to arrive on time, while I took the children to Mass myself (one of the children was scheduled to serve the last Mass). He has gone to breakfast meetings and Mass and evening meetings too with “the guys” and has shared very little with me and is keeping everything after the retreat private too.

As an example of the communication problems we’ve been having, I did attempt to tell him about a concern that my daughter has. Our kids go to Catholic school. One of our daughter’s best friends and classmate confided to our girl that she seldom goes to church on Sundays. Daughter asked if she knew that was really bad, a mortal sin, in fact. Friend said yes, but she had no way to get to Mass since her parents didn’t go on Sundays. Daughter confided her concerns in me. Daughter asked me to take friend with us to Mass each Sunday. Daughter was almost in tears as she lamented that she didn’t want her friend to go to Hell. I tried to comfort her with the fact that friend is still a child and is still reliant upon her parents to get to Mass, so it isn’t her sin. I feel that perhaps I should do more to help this child and also my daughter but am not sure what steps to take, so I mentioned the conversation I had with daughter to my husband. His reaction was that he should talk it over with “the guys.” That was like a slap to me, so I paused before I said as evenly as I could that he was talking it over with me. He said yes, but he should bounce it off of “the guys” to see if they had any helpful ideas. He went on to say perhaps this was a call to evangelize. The conversation pretty much ended with that. Guess he’ll now see if “the guys” have any suggestions as to how I should proceed. Wonder if he’ll share any information that he gleans or just share it with our daughter since he sure isn’t sharing much with me.

Judging from what most of you have had to say, I guess I should just get over it and let him go with what is best for him without feeling threatened by it all and try to see this as positive. Guess I’ll try.

BTW, the reason I will not go to an ACTS retreat is not because I am spiteful, but because that is just not my style. I am a quiet, introverted person. Going away with a bunch of strangers and sharing a lot of personal, profound stuff just would not be my thing. A silent retreat would be more my style. Hubby knows that.

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disregarding the irrelevant foray into what happened to one parish choir, I will respond to various posters who expressed dismay, indignation, resentment or other feelings directed at a spouse who attended a retreat, or had another deep spiritual experience, and is unwilling or unable to share that experience with said spouse.

I am frankly at a loss to understand those emotions. To insist that a spouse share, under threat of what approaches emotional blackmail, such an interior experience seems to me unreasonable and even childish. An unmarried person cannot demand that a married person explain every emotional and spiritual aspect of the marriage experience. An unconverted person cannot demand that someone who has undergone conversion (born again, RCIA, whatever) explain that experience in detail. A spouse cannot demand his partner share their deep interior life–such as their confessions.

Analogy would be war veterans who even many years later have never been able to talk about those experiences with spouse or family, and find only their war “buddies” can understand.

What the person is able to share, and comfortable in sharing, they will share. And that sharing will only happen in a relationship that otherwise enjoys a true intimacy (beyond the physical) and where the partners feel comfortable and safe in sharing. A visible and strident display of anger and resentment against a spouse who is reluctant to talk about a spiritual experience is not likely to foster that healthy atmosphere of sharing.

For one spouse to insist that the partner share confidences and experiences that include those of third parties, who made those confidences in an atmosphere of guaranteed safety, is unreasonable. If we cannot demand our spouse to open up about their own interior life, even more so we can never reasonably demand that he reveal what has been told to him by third parties.