Core Beliefs of the Marianist Family Retreat Ministry

Marianist Province of the United States

Adopted April 2002


We who are involved in the Marianist Family Retreat Ministry, both lay and religious, young and old, are guided by the following core beliefs which have come out of our rich experiences based in Marianist tradition:

Mary is our model

Our ministry is a “discipleship of equals”

We minister to families in the context of community

The Marianist Family Retreat Program provides structured and unstructured opportunities for growth

Through prayer and discernment, we open ourselves to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We offer this document as a guide for all Marianists already ministering and those Marianists new to the ministry.  We realize that this document reflects only our experiences, and just as Fr. Chaminade responded to the needs of his time, we expect that the needs of the families who are and will be served by this ministry will determine prudent adaptations.

Core Beliefs

The family is sacred.

The family is intrinsically holy and sacred.  We believe it to be the foundation of the Church, and the core of society.  Family is our first and primary experience of community, forming our values and nurturing our faith.

The fundamental purpose of the Marianist Family Retreat Program is to strengthen families by providing opportunities for growth, an experience of community and an affirmation of their essential holiness.  By helping families to recognize their gifts and embrace their differences, we invite them to see God in each other and in the larger community.

Mary is our model

Mary is our model of the sacred.  She invites us, as she was invited, to hear the call of God and say “yes.”  Just as through Mary’s “yes” Christ came into the world, we as Marianists seek to help families, through their “yes,” bring Christ into their daily realities.

Mary proclaims God’s radical love for us and calls us to bear witness to that love in our lives.  By emulating her virtues of gentleness, acceptance, welcoming, caring, and service, we offer families a glimpse of the Marianist charism.

Our ministry is a “discipleship of equals”

In the process of organizing, planning and implementing the Marianist Family Retreat Program, Marianist staff work together with a common mission.  By recognizing each other’s gifts and accepting each other’s limitations, we affirm each person’s worth and ability to serve.  Lay and vowed, women and men, young and old, all are equal and have equal opportunity for leadership and input.  Structure exists to facilitate an organized and collaborative ministry.

We minister to families in the context of community

As Marianists, we consciously and purposefully strive to build community amongst our staffs to carry out our mission of ministering to families.  Through our charism, we hope to create an environment in which families can be sanctified as primary faith communities.  The Marianist Family Retreat Program offers an opportunity for families to pray together, play together and be witness to each other, leading them to a recognition of how they are called to transform the larger Church community and the world.

The Marianist Family Retreat Program provides structured and unstructured opportunities for growth

The Marianist Family Retreat Program is structured upon these essential elements: Hospitality, Affirmation, Communication, Forgiveness, Commitment and the Call to Serve.  We believe that these elements offer families the opportunity to grow and be nurtured thereby fostering family spirituality and unity. The experience of being told by your family that you are good, loved, forgiven and worth committing to, as well as the experience of telling your family the same are gifts to be treasured.

Additionally, the intentional balance of structured and unstructured time in the program creates a unique moment in time and space for families to freely experience Christ in each other.  We believe this balance is critical to the success of the Marianist Family Retreat Program. There is time to pray and time to play; planned activities to do with one’s family and free time for family-directed fun; time for large group activities and time for peer group activities; time for thoughtful reflection and sharing and time for hilarity.

Through prayer and discernment, we open ourselves to the gifts of the Holy Spirit

The essence of ministry is the “willing of God’s will in all places in all times.”  We recognize that it is not by the power of our will or our good intentions that certain outcomes are achieved as a result of our efforts.  We believe that it is by our willingness to surrender ourselves, through prayer and discernment, to the power of the Holy Spirit that miracles happen within and among families.  We are in mission with the Spirit and hope to help families do the same.

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