Tuesday 22 March 2022

The Bible in a Year Retreat - Fr. Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins - Ascension Press

This retreat ran the first time February 18-20 2022. It was an excellent experience. And If you have done the Bible in a Year Podcast, are currently working through it, or just have a passion for the bible, Fr Mike or Jeff this is a must attend event for you the next time it is offered. 

I was excited for this even from the first I heard about it. I signed up for early notice. I signed up as soon as I received notice that registration was open. Shortly after I registered I received an invite to sign up for a small group during the weekend. I really had no idea what to expect for the weekend but as a big fan of Father Mike and Jeff’s work I knew it would not disappoint. Not only did it not disappoint I consider it an exceptional retreat. 

First the technical aspects. The event was hosted by Relatu, I work full time in IT and have been attending events like this for years. Events hosted by VMWare, Microsoft, Oracle … And I can state from what I saw an experienced this event was pulled off flawlessly from a technology perspective. I had three tabs open all weekend in a browser. One for the main stages, one for my small group, and one for the agenda and attending the ‘Community Connects’ and Expo. Staff from Relatu were online and available all weekend. Before the event began they had a check in it was a queue and you could watch other people get support and test their sound and video. The staff were wonderful, and really knew their platform and how to help people with a wide range of backgrounds.  

Now to the content.

Community Connects – 5 scheduled sessions over the weekend, just click join and you are paired up with another participant for 3 minutes. You can extend the time if you want. You can encounter people from all over the world. And Mike and Jeff took part and shared a bit about their connections.

Small Group Sessions – 4 Breakout sessions if you signed up for a small group. There were 100 small groups this year. There was aser of questions and resources to respond to the main talks, and take what we learned and go forward.

Individual Reflection Time – Overlapped with Small group sessions. 30 minute blocks. Can be used for personal time during the retreat if not in a small group. 

Main Sessions – Events
Main Stage - Welcome & Kickoff with Jeff Cavins & Fr. Mike Schmitz
Guided Prayer - Liturgy of the Hours with Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Main Stage - Fr. Mike Schmitz - "Wrestling with God in Scripture"
Prayer - Lectio Divina with Dr. Christine Wood
Mainstage - Jeff Cavins - "How to Have a Lifelong Relationship with the Word"
Expo Hall - "Passing Scripture to the Next Generation" with Mark Hart
Prayer - Scriptural Rosary with Dr. Edward & Beth Sri
Mainstage - Q&A with Jeff Cavins & Fr. Mike Schmitz
Mainstage - Holy Hour with Fr. Mike Schmitz
Mainstage - Pre-Recorded Mass w/ Fr. Mike Schmitz
Mainstage - Closing Prayer & Reflections with Fr. Mike and Jeff

Like most retreats, or books for that matter to an extent what you get out of the BIY Retreat will depend on how much you put into it. But from what I saw in the small group, the connects, and the continuous Q & A thread during each session and even hours after the last event. The talks and presenters were excellent. After when attending retreats or conferences in the past there is usually a session or two that was not as good as the others, that was not the case here all of them were excellent. I picked up either courses or books by D'Ambrosio, Sri and Cavins to keep the learning from the retreat going. (We were provided a discount code for some resources in the Ascension store.)

One of the great benefits of the retreat is that all the Mainstage events were recorded; they were available for replay shortly after they ended within the event platform. They are also being made available after the event through Ascension’s Thinkific platform.  With these two options not only can you go back and listen again during the weekend, but afterwards. Frequently at the end of sessions and not juts the main Q & A Jeff and Father Mike answered questions live. You could see the up votes on questions and feedback. It was amazing.

The only recommendation I would make would be the option of Mass, Rosary, Lectio Divina each of the three days. It would have been cool if each of the other presenters (Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Dr. Christine Wood, Mark Hart, and Dr. Edward & Beth Sri) had been part of the community connects. 

This retreat was one of the most reasonably priced events I have ever attended. And the quality of the event could not have been higher. I would not hesitate to attend again if they offer another BIY Bible in a Year Retreat and would seriously consider other live virtual events from Ascension. A great retreat, thank you to all who helped put it on, organized it, and supported it. If this is offered again I strongly encourage you to invest in this retreat your spiritual life will not be the same! Guaranteed. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

The Bible in a Year Resources:

Books By Father Mike Schmitz:
Made for Love: Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church
Quick Catholic Lessons with Fr. Mike

Contributed to:
Pray, Decide, and Don't Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God's Will
Don't Be Afraid to Say Yes to God! Pope Francis Speaks to Young People

Audio Talks by Father Mike Schmitz:
Living Life by Design, Not by Default
Love - Sacrifice - Trust He Showed Us the Way
From Love, By Love, For Love
True Worship
The Four Last Things
Jesus Is …
Changed Forever - The Sacrament of Baptism
We Must Go Out - The Sacrament of Confirmation

Books by Jeff Cavins:

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