A Retreat Is a Great Way to Form Your RCIA Team

by Tina Harding

Come away by yourselves to an out of the way place and rest awhile. (Mark 6:31).

In the late summer, usually in August, I invite my team to a retreat. The retreat helps us to set our hearts on the goals of initiation and conversion. In writing this article, I hope to encourage you also to organize a team re-treat. Here are some tips I have learned over the years.

Choose a date with your team. Ask them to commit to attending.

Your first consideration will be to find a date and a place. Once your team has decided on a date, begin to plan and prepare for the retreat. Decide whether you want to do a one day retreat or an expanded retreat which in-cludes an overnight stay. I have done both. An overnight retreat helps to build community and affords much more time for faith sharing, meals, play and socializing. Overnight retreats can be costly and, unless you want to spend part of your budget or pass that cost onto your team, you may need to consider a day retreat. I have found that a one-day retreats work well. Plan a full day—from morning until evening.

Choose a place (i.e., Ignatius House,  Georgia State Parks).

Our retreats are not held at the Church, but in an out-of-the-way place. I have tried retreat centers, state parks and most recently we met at the home of one of my team members whose spacious surroundings us the time and space needed to go off by ourselves to pray and reflect.

Choose a leader and divide some roles among the team (i.e., meals, prayer experiences, reflection questions, goals for the coming year, and so on.

In the past, I have hired retreat leaders. But, with money tight I have led the retreat myself in the past several years. The team has helped to share the responsibility of the meals, which also helps to keep the cost down and has proven to be a great team-building activity.

Consider and evaluate the past year.

Speak with your team about their strengths and weaknesses. Evaluate how the process is going and what needs improving. By doing this together, you will come up with a list of ideas for the theme of your retreat day. Some topics might be conversion, the mission and ministry of Jesus, building trust and confidence, etc. The team re-treat, as with all team formation, is meant to build confidence and knowledge among your team as well as form-ing friendship and creating community. The first principle of catechumenal team formation is that team mem-bers learn by doing. A team retreat can help new and seasoned team members develop the courage to “jump in”!