| By Evan Atkins | Guest Correspondent

July retreat offers families time to bond, pray

On a July Saturday last year, members from dozens of families slowly made their way from their seats in the bleachers to the center of the gym where they began to wash each other’s hands, pray together, and share their hearts. Through this simple action, fathers and mothers reconciled with their children, siblings reconciled with one another, and husbands and wives reconciled.

For those families who attended the RED-C Apostolate and Ablaze Ministries 2023 Family Retreat, that hot July Saturday meant growth, peace, deepened bonds and newness of life. Fathers, mothers and children alike were visibly moved to tears as they rediscovered and renewed the love and connection that can only come from being part of a family.

Javier De Alva Garza from Ablaze Ministries and Deacon Robin Waters from RED-C Apostolate are coordinating the retreat, and they intend it to be an opportunity for families to encounter Christ.

“To encounter Jesus as a family outside of Sunday Mass has become a rarity. Kids attend VBS, teens [attend] DCYC, while adults attend men and women's retreats. This is a time for everyone to retreat at the same time — together,” De Alva Garza said.

Now entering its sixth year, in the Austin Diocese, the day-long Family Retreat is scheduled for July 27 at St. Louis Parish in Waco. It is open to all who wish to attend!

This year’s theme is “Praying as a Family,” a direct response to Pope Francis’ call for a worldwide year of prayer in the church, where he has asked the faithful to reflect on what we pray, how we pray, and why we pray, so to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Deacon Ralph Poyo will headline the retreat; he is a nationally acclaimed speaker and founder of New Evangelization Ministries. His talk, “Called by Name,” is a reflection on answering God’s call and discerning God’s will for our lives. Multiple talks will be given throughout the day in both English and Spanish.

A series of family activities and workshops will be held throughout the day to help families grow and bond and to help equip parents with the necessary means to integrate prayer successfully into daily life.

Deacon Waters encourages all families to attend.

“Spending even one day experiencing their faith in action together, all members of the family, young and old, realize the importance of family in their life of faith,” he said.

The retreat concludes with a workshop on family prayer. Presenters will share strategies and practical ways to encourage parents and inspire children to make family prayer a central and enjoyable part of daily life.

Tickets are $50 for the entire family with lunch and dinner included for all who attend. A nursery will be available for children 3 and under; guided activities will be available for children of every age group through high school.

Order tickets online at www.redcradio.org/familyretreat2024.

Evan Atkins is the director of marketing for RED-C Apostolate.

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