Weekend Retreat Overview
Weekend retreats provide an atmosphere of spiritual awareness, awakening and renewal. Each inmate begins the weekend with his or her own level of spiritual maturity. As the weekend progresses, we encourage each participant to invite the Holy Spirit to enter their hearts.
MercyFire, an experiential retreat, begins on Thursday evening or Friday morning. This format is very flexible can be adapted to meet the needs of the local Chaplain and institution. It begins with a time for personal reflection of ones life and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is highly encouraged for all Catholics attending the retreat.
The MercyFire retreat team members present a series of meditations or reflections on the God’s infinite mercy and the Catholic faith. The meditations concentrate discussion on knowing God’s Mercy through the Holy Spirit, Prayer, Healing, Love, Salvation, Scripture, Actions, Forgiveness, Obedience, Avoiding Sin and Second Chances. Personal witness provides factual examples of His immense love for each of us.
In addition to presentations, the inmates are given the opportunity to participate in many smaller group discussions. Each table has a team member and everyone is strongly encouraged to discuss the material presented.
The MercyFire team is comprised of a Servant Leader, trained spiritual directors, lay persons and local volunteers. The prison chaplain is always considered a member of the team.
Although designed to bring men and women back to the roots of their Catholic faith, the weekend is open to non-Catholics as well. This three day walk with Jesus, filled with music, laughter and tears, does effectively change the lives of these men and women behind bars – witnessed to us by many during the past 25 years.
The weekend comes to a close on Sunday with the celebration of the Eucharist and personal recognition of each prisoner. In many locations, monthly follow-up faith sharing sessions are held by local volunteers.
As in any faith-based volunteer organization, inspiration for action and service originates with the Holy Spirit. Each team member has his or her own personal reasons and inspirations for answering God’s call. However, every team member recognizes the tremendous need in prison ministry. The men and women incarcerated in our society are largely forgotten and forsaken by the outside population. MercyFire Prison Ministry effectively serves the spiritual needs of those who may otherwise feel abandoned.
On a more tangible platform
Recidivism in the United States is estimated to be between 50-80% for the general prison population. This means that over half of all prisoners released will someday return to prison. However, prisoners who actively participate in intense faith-based programs such as MercyFire, have a recidivism rate of between 8-20% according to Chaplains across the country. That is an amazing statistic! The power of God and His love is immeasurable.
To Prison Chaplains and Local Volunteers
The MercyFire Team encourages you to consider offering a Catholic retreat at your institution. MercyFire Catholic Prison Ministry will work with you to coordinate a Christ centered, inspirational weekend for the inmates in your area. We cannot make many promises in life…but the MercyFire Team promises to all those who open their hearts and minds to the power of the Holy Spirit – Your Life Will Change Forever!!
Contact Sister Judith to determine whether we can be of service to you.