Charis Ministries Retreat

Charis Ministries Retreat Opens Teacher to God's Voice

As a first year teacher, I really struggled to balance all of the demands of an educator: grading, lesson planning, making tests, etc.  It wasn’t long before I found myself becoming completely overwhelmed and exhausted. I felt like I was losing myself and losing touch with family, friends, and more importantly, God. I was teaching in a Catholic school, but didn’t feel connected to Him. How could this be? I attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through high school; I even went to church every now and then. But still, something was missing.

Ashley Gayonski

Ashley Gayonski

As I was checking my emails one day in January, I came across an email with the subject, “Charis Retreat.” I quickly glanced at the subject, but didn’t open the email. Later that evening, I kept thinking about that email. Something inside kept telling me to open it; later I’d learn this was the Holy Spirit talking! The next day, I opened the email. After reading about the Charis Retreat and all it had to offer, I was sold. I knew I needed a break from teaching. I needed to recharge my mind, body, and soul. More importantly, I needed some time to spend with God. 

I was very hesitant upon arriving at the retreat center. I didn’t know anybody and I had no idea what to expect. Very quickly, however, I felt right at home. For the first time in my life, I was allowing myself to connect with God on a deeper level. As I listened to the retreat leaders give talks on various topics on God’s love, Jesus’ suffering, and the work of the Holy Spirit, I felt Jesus’ presence. After listening to these talks, you have time to go reflect on what you just heard.  This is where I heard God’s voice.  Sitting in the beautiful chapel, reflecting and praying, I heard God’s voice and I felt His love like never before. This forever changed my life. My eyes were filled with tears as I finally realized what I had been taught all my life! God loves us! He yearns for us and wants to help us! I always knew this, but never felt it. 

All it took was allowing myself to not only make time for Him, but to open up to Him. The Charis retreat gave me the opportunity to do so. The retreat provides a variety of other experiences.  I personally loved being able to talk with other teachers in a small group setting about my struggles as a teacher-I learned I wasn’t alone! I also enjoyed walking around the beautiful grounds where I could walk with other teachers or do some praying and reflecting on my own. I would recommend this retreat to anybody who is overwhelmed with teaching and in need of prayer and reflection. Everyone will have a different experience. Mine was truly amazing. My relationship with God has never been stronger.

Charis House Retreat Group

About Charis Ministries

Charis Ministries is a Jesuit ministry to those in their 20s & 30s. An outreach of the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus, Charis offers retreats, leadership development and spiritual resources that bring the gifts of Ignatian Spiritualiy to the lives of young adults.  Charis retreats attract young adults seeking to maintain or rekindle a relationship to the Church.   Evangelization is a key component of their work.  Charis retreat models have garnered national attention, and in 2005, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops named Charis a “best practice in young adult ministry.” 

The word “Charis” (pronounced Ka-ris) is from the Greek and can be translated as “grace” or “special presence of the Divine.” St. Ignatius of Loyola challenges us to find God in all things.  Charis events give young adults the opportunity to find God’s grace in the midst of their relationships, careers, struggles, and joys.

Charis Ministries, headquartered in Chicago, serves young adults and those who minister to them.  Through the nationwide Charis Partner Program, 35 Partners offer 8 different peer-led retreats in 37 cities from the east to the west coasts.  Since 2011, Charis Ministries has also launched initiatives with focused outreach to Hispanic young adults and active duty military personnel.   Last year alone, Charis Ministries reached over 1000 young adults across the country.  Charis is committed to forming the next generation of lay and religious leaders in the Church. 

Our Sunday Visitor Institute has been instrumental in helping Charis Ministries share their transformative retreats with young adult ministries throughout the country.