ACTS is the acronym for Adoration, Community, Theology and Service. The retreat was inspired by the Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47.
"42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
ACTS retreats have enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people; men and women, teens and retirees, rich and poor, Catholic and non-Catholic, in the United States as well as other countries. It has reinvigorated the spiritual lives of individuals, of families, of entire parishes. Yet, 25 years ago, it did not even exist.
No history of ACTS would be complete without the help of, and some familiarity with, the Cursillo retreat. Cursillo began in Spain in the years between WWI and WWII, in response to what many in the church saw as the increasing secularization of many Catholics in Spain at the time. It was intended to be a short course (the Spanish for short course is "cursillo") on the Catholic faith, and soon became widely popular for its profound effect on people's spirituality. By the mid 1980's, it had spread to many places in the world, including Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Selma, Texas, a suburb of San Antonio. It was here that three men who were heavily involved in Cursillo planned the first ACTS retreat.
Ed Courtney, Joe Hayes, and Marty Sablik were instructors and coordinators with Cursillo, with years of Cursillo experience and a mutual friendship. They thought that several aspects of Cursillo could be improved in order to make the retreat more relevant to the needs of the parish, especially after the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. From the beginning, they all felt that it was important for the retreat to be open to everyone. Ed, acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, met Joe and Marty at a coffee shop to build a new retreat called ACTS. This seemed logical to Ed since the Acts of the Apostles described what the apostles did, and are we not the apostles of today? Since the three main points in Cursillo were Piety, Study, and Action, Ed felt it absolutely necessary to bring them into ACTS. Once again under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Ed used a dictionary to aid him in correlating the letters A, C, T, and S into the themes of Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service. Joe Hayes, through the Holy Spirit, was instrumental in securing the approval of both their pastor, Fr. Patrick Cronin, and that of Archbishop Flores.
After the first retreat in 1987, ACTS spread parish to parish in the San Antonio Archdiocese, and by 1997 there were 15 parishes with an ACTS program in place. In that year, ACTS Missions was formed as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization for the purpose of spreading and maintaining the ACTS retreat wherever the Holy Spirit prompted it.
ACTS Missions was started by Larry Lopez and Tony Deosdade, two men who had such a profound experience on their retreat that they were inspired to make sure everyone in the world should have the opportunity to receive it as well. From its headquarters at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, this small organization now leverages thousands of volunteers every year to bring the retreat to even more people, allowing them to experience the love of God through their fellow Christians. Today, ACTS is in at least 22 states in the U.S., 8 states in Mexico, as well as Canada, Honduras, South Africa and England. Interest is growing literally around the world.
People have credited ACTS with saving their lives, saving their marriages, convincing them to be ordained as priests or deacons, or leading them to the religious life, simply by opening their eyes and their hearts to God's word. Pastors have praised its positive effects on their parishes, leading to highly invigorated parish life. Bishops and other church leaders have called it one of the most important movements in the Catholic Church today; all this from a handful of faith-filled people with the courage and perseverance to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Epiphany offered its first men's ACTS retreat in the fall of 2013, followed by a women's retreat in the spring. Annually, we offer one retreat for women and one for men.
An ACTS retreat is a three day/three night Catholic lay retreat presented by fellow parishioners. The retreat begins on Thursday evening and ends the following Sunday at a Mass celebrated with the parish community. Retreats are given separately for men and women. Talks and activities during the retreat focus on Adoration, Community, Theology and Service, from which the ACTS program acronym is derived. Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are the guides for the retreats. The retreat takes on the traditions and atmosphere of the parish community sponsoring it. It facilitates attainment of a new or deeper relationship with the Lord.
Through the ACTS retreat, ACTS Missions provides a spark that ignites Catholics world-wide with the eternal flame of the Holy Spirit. As an instrument of God, ACTS is a light that will help bring about the New Evangelization by fostering love and true discipleship, leading others to a commitment and obedience to Our Lord Jesus Christ by our every word, action and thought.
Facilitator: Nick Becker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Facilitator: Veronica Herr, email@example.com
Financial Coordinator: Mike Essington mEssington81@gmail.com
Communications: Shelly Gruenwald, firstname.lastname@example.org
Spiritual: Jennifer Friedmann, email@example.com
Retreat Support: Martin Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
Retreat Support: Lori Reid, email@example.com
Retreat Supplies: Thersa Schmitt, Thersa.firstname.lastname@example.org
Retreat Supplies: Ed McKibbins, email@example.com
Upcoming Scheduled Retreats
Women's retreat Sept. 13-16 2018
Men's retreat Mar. 7-10 2019
See the Events page for details and to sign up closer to the event time.