What is ACTS?
Adoration- the call by, acceptance of, and response to God
Community- the love and caring of each other
Theology-the study of God through scripture and the Catholic Faith
Service - to God and his people.
What is an ACTS Retreat?
An ACTS retreat is a three day and 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 for men, women and teens are given separately. The focus of the retreat is Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service, from which the ACTS acronym is derived. Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are the guides for the retreats.
What is the purpose of the ACTS retreat?
An ACTS weekend is designed to help the retreatants enter into a new or deeper relationship with our Lord and fellow parishioners. This is accomplished through Adoration and daily prayer, the call to Community in one's parish as a member of the Body of Christ, and Theology in encouraging the study of scripture and our Catholic Faith. All of which emphasize and encourage the virtue of Service to our Lord, our parish, and one another.
What is the goal of the ACTS retreat?
A parish ACTS retreat strives to achieve the directives of Vatican II and goals of the Revised Code of Canon Law of 1983 which emphasize "community and pastoral care" within a parish. The weekend allows the retreatants to experience God's love and joy. They return to their parish with a deeper love for each other and a desire to become more involved in their parish community.
The retreat emphasizes our call to service to the parish community and to our world community. There results a new or renewed dedication to the life of the parish community and a new recognition of the needs of those around us and of our obligation, as followers of Christ, to help meet those needs.
Who can attend an ACTS retreat?
ACTS retreats are open to all faiths.
What is an ACTS Chapter?
The ACTS Chapter is a support branch of ACTS Missions dedicated to the missioning process of Catholic communities seeking to bring the ACTS retreat to their parish. Its members represent the various areas of the Diocese.
The Chapter also was created to facilitate the missioning process for parishes interested in having ACTS in their communities and to ensure fidelity to the integrity and spirit of the retreat. In addition to working with and supporting parish Priests and members in the development of ACTS ministries, the Chapter also elects directors to lead retreats for parishes in the missioning process. Typically, the Chapter will work with a new parish over a 2-3 year period to prepare the parish to establish its own Core group.
The Chapter also helps the ACTS community by providing quarterly director workshops, maintaining a diocesan website for disseminating information, conducting Core installation ceremonies, offering support to newly established communities, offering specific training & guidance as requested, and acting as a liaison between the diocese and the ministry.
The History of ACTS
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, expecially 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, not just to Catholics, and not just to those who were sponsored by someone. 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 help him correlate the letters A, C, T, and S into the themes of Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service. Joe Hayes, with the help of the Holy Spirit, was instrumental in securing the approval of both their pastor, Fr. Patrick Cronin, and that of Archbishop Flores. Another friend and parishioner, Wallace Vaughn, was inspired by the Holy Spirit to read Acts 2:42-47, the passage that became the biblical inspiration for the weekend.
After that first retreat in 1987, ACTS spread parish to parish in the San Antonio Archdiocese, and by 1997 there were perhaps 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 thousands of 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 the most important movement 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.