The numbers are staggering, yet impressive.
• 15 years of Adoration, Community, Theology and Service;
• 72 adult retreats completed;
• 19 teen retreats completed; and,
• More than 5,000 participants, so far.
The success of the ACTS Retreats in the Diocese of Amarillo is overwhelming, but at the same time, after 15 years, has not peaked.
The West Texas Catholic
sought out those who have participated in an ACTS Retreat and those who have served in leadership and gave them the opportunity to tell the success story that is the ACTS Community in the Diocese of Amarillo.
Monsignor Harold Waldow
Lead Chaplain to ACTS
“In 1992, when I was diocesan, regional and national spiritual director of Cursillo, I was introduced to ACTS while in San Antonio doing a leadership workshop. I was taken to St. Matthew’s Church where I observed ACTS and understood the methodology and process and registered to attend an ACTS Retreat at St. Matthew’s in the fall. I thought at the time, that someday I might be given the opportunity to introduce ACTS to Amarillo.
“That opportunity came when Bishop John W. Yanta became our diocesan bishop and I was chosen to be Vicar of Clergy and part of his pastoral team. Bishop Yanta wanted the Bishop DeFalco Retreat Center to be strengthened and be the spiritual heart of our diocese and to that end Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida Sister Theresa Rozga was hired as the BDRC director and we worked to bring ACTS to Amarillo. Bishop Yanta gave us the money to bring the teams from San Antonio for our formation and the first women’s and men’s retreats in 2001. The rest became our history, we were up and running on our own.
“The focus for our CORE Leadership is how to reach all the parish churches of our diocese. At present 40% have not experienced ACTS and the work of evangelizing the people who live at the margins of our diocese is most important.
“God has abundantly blessed our movement. Bishop Patrick J. Zurek supports us. Spirited laymen and women fill leadership roles as CORE.
“Priests of the diocese have attended ACTS and serve as retreat spiritual directors as do permanent deacons and women religious. Bishop Zurek appointed Deacon Jackie Gunnels and Deacon Bob Birkenfeld to serve as the spiritual guides of ACTS with me as chaplains.
“We are Blessed and all the Honor and Glory belongs to Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
ACTS CORE President/Facilitator
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Amarillo
“I experienced my ACTS Retreat in February 2004. When I went on my retreat I was in the process of trying to find God. I had been married for 10 years with three small children and I knew that I needed to be changing my ways, finding Christ and leading my family on the path to Christ.
“My wife, Lora, had been talking about going on an ACTS Retreat. I said, “Why in the world would I go on a retreat and share myself with others?” Well, she went on Retreat in October 2003 and when I saw her on that Sunday there was a sparkle in her eye that wasn’t there before. I knew that I had to find out what put that sparkle there. Little did I know that sparkle was the love and mercy of God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
“To go on an ACTS Retreat and to be able to lay all your burdens at the feet of Christ is the most free and rewarding feeling in the world. To really be able to understand and feel the love that Christ has for you is overwhelming; so overwhelming that it brought me to tears to know how much I am loved by Christ and my family.
“Since my retreat I have noticed how much more at peace I am in moments of trials. I've gotten active in Church Ministries, have been involved with Stephen Ministry and have served on ACTS CORE.
and Mass are the three most peaceful times of my week.
, spending time with my Church Community and ACTS Community in helping others on their walk with Christ is rewarding.
, to read Scripture, daily reflections and be involved with different groups keeps me connected to Christ.
, I have learned to reach out with a kind word or action to those who are in need or hurting.
“God is ready to meet everyone wherever they are on their journey. He is gracious, loving and forgiving. I believe with my whole heart that one can truly experience this on an ACTS Retreat. I can't tell everyone they need to go, but everyone deserves to go.”
St. Anthony of Padua, Dalhart
“We have been very blessed and have been praying for God to guide/show me where He needed me. The same week Betty Aragon called and asked me to be the next ACTS Teen Director in December. I have helped serve at several women's retreats and one teen retreat. When I attended my first retreat it was so hard to listen to the ladies share their Personal Testimonies (PT’s).
“I realized we're all sisters in Christ and was overwhelmed by the love the team showed us. By the end of the weekend it was so hard to leave my new sisters. You leave the weekend feeling amazing. When I got called to serve my first women's retreat it was even more emotional. To be God’s hands and feet on this earth and serve others—I can't even explain it in words.
“Serving on Teen retreat is honestly even more powerful. So many teens are hurting in this world. I was able to serve on Team with my own child. As she shared her PT we prayed we would be able to show others how God worked through us. He shows us unconditional love as He would want us to show others. A lot of teens need someone other than their own parent to lean on. It hurt to listen to their stories, but Father Scott (L. Raef) once told me that God is using us as a vessel to take in their pain and send it back to Him.
“I strongly recommend an ACTS retreat to every man, woman or teen. This is a time away from technology. It is a four-day weekend away from technology and getting closer to God. It makes you a better mom, spouse and friend. I have continued a lot of those friendships with adults and teens.”
St. Anthony’s Church, Hereford
“I would have to say the ACTS experience first and foremost allowed me to learn to let go of my hurts and pain. By going to this retreat, I was able to learn so much about prayer and worship that got me out of my comfort zone. Believing this was my time to heal, God placed the perfect people to work that retreat to be with me, guide me in a way that was not judgmental, that prayed for me and with me. I am so thankful for the friendships that were formed because I had gotten to go that week.
“I will be forever grateful for the ACTS community! And shortly after I went, my husband attended an ACTS Retreat.”
St. Ann’s Church, Canyon
1. Made me fall in love with my Faith.
2. Challenged me to learn my Faith and to have confidence to evangelize the teachings of the Catholic Church.
3. Encouraged me to nurture my personal relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer and daily mass.
4. Developed a bond and friendships with others from across the diocese.”
Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Dumas
“Two years ago, in the summer of 2014, I made my Women's Retreat. Two weeks later, one of my sons went on a Teen Retreat and in August my husband experienced a Men's Retreat. Needless to say, we all had amazing experiences! Now my son and I have had the opportunities to serve on Teams. But one of the most powerful ACTS moments for me was hosting an ACTS Mass in Dumas. It was so amazing to see how many people in Dumas have been touched by ACTS.”
St. Vincent de Paul Church, Pampa
“Christ, the Good Shepherd, is the Light of the world. We walk in the Light
and this Light leads us closer to Christ. In this Light, ACTS has allowed my
flicker of Faith to shine bright for everyone to see. It has made me think
that I can do more in my life to let the Light shine through me. My love for
Adoration has grown, my love for Community is unquestionable, I love teaching
about the Theology of Church through RCIA and I love Serving the Church
though the environment of the seasons. ACTS has blessed me immeasurably.
Please consider attending an ACTS retreat and know that Jesus will let his Light shine through you, also.”
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Amarillo
Participant in first ACTS Retreat in Diocese of Amarillo in 2001
“ACTS and the brothers and sisters I've met have brought me through the toughest times of my life. I am always aware of Jesus being with me even when life doesn't make any sense at all. I'm aware of when I'm not putting Jesus first because my heart is not peaceful and my joy is diminished. But just saying His name with gratitude brings it all back to its rightful place in my life. Thank you ACTS for changing my life and helping me become so much happier.”
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Amarillo
ACTS Amarillo Online Communications Facilitator
“One of the best things about ACTS is the solid, faith-filled relationships I’ve made. I think that’s especially wonderful in our diocese because I get to meet and work with people from Dalhart and Dimmitt and Vega and Kress that I never would have even had the chance to meet otherwise.”
On Saturday, Aug. 27, the ACTS Community plans to celebrate 15 years of faith and growth in Amarillo with a dinner/dance/fundraiser at Cornerstone Ranch Event Center in Bushland.
“Together we look not just back in thanksgiving but ahead in hope and Faith of what the coming years will mean in the lives of people who have yet to experience an ACTS Retreat,” said Hoelting.
For ticket information for this celebration, please visit: