Tyler Kircher and Aaron Halberg, both of Hayward, talk at the 2018 diocesan men’s retreat at CrossWoods Camp in Mason. The second annual men’s retreat will take place March 22-24. (Photo credit: Dan Tomasoski)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

Powerful time of prayer, powerful time of encounter and peer relationship building: According the diocese’s associate director of Catholic Formation, Chris Hurtubise, these are the three main goals of upcoming overnight retreats for adults ages 25 to 55.

“Balancing Acts – How the 1st Century Church can Inspire 21st Century Women” will be the theme for a women’s retreat Feb. 15-16. Content will focus on the challenges of balancing family life, career and committed discipleship.

“Into the Deep” will be the men’s retreat theme from March 22-24. With similar goals, men will be encouraged and motivated to seek a life of deep prayer and conversion.

Both retreats, which will be held at CrossWoods Camp in Mason, will include times for personal prayer and reflection, Mass and Eucharistic adoration as well as opportunities for reconciliation and spiritual direction.

Expectations were exceeded for the first attempt at a men’s weekend retreat last February.

“Our hope last year was to start building a community of men around the diocese, a nucleus of guys that could come together and encounter God in a powerful way so that we could form them deeply, give them transformative spiritual (and sacramental) encounters … tools to lead intentional lives as Catholic men,” Hurtubise said.

The hope was for 20 participants. Thirty-six attended, and they hoped to double their numbers the following year. While Hurtubise isn’t expecting quite that many for the March retreat, he does expect an increase. He also expects that the women’s retreat, 2019 being the first one, will have attendance close to the men in their second year.

Hurtubise addressed why a men’s retreat was offered first.

“By and large, if you go to any adult ministry stuff, men are missing,” he said. “There is more urgency for men to experience a powerful encounter with Christ and to be leaders in their families. A lot of women are already doing a great job.”

Another question has been why the women’s retreat is only one overnight as opposed to two for the men. He said the reason for that was logistical. In talking to women wanting a retreat opportunity, given that many of them have young children, taking more than one night away from their families simply wasn’t feasible.

“As adults are looking for more things to plug into, one of the goals of both of these retreats is to take this nucleus of men and this nucleus of women, and take them really deep,” Hurtubise added. Themes and speakers were carefully selected with this in mind.

Kris Kranenberg, an Adult Formation and RCIA Director from the Diocese of Madison, will be the main speaker. Hurtubise said, “Kris is going to do an amazing job. She’s super professional, really high energy, very engaging but first and foremost she’s just totally in love with Jesus and the Church and wants to help the women of our diocese find that balance.”

The men’s retreat talks will be led by Diocese of Marquette priest Fr. Timothy Ekaitis. Looking for someone to come and teach the men to pray, Hurtubise got connected with the Michigan priest through one of the Superior diocesan priests.

“He’s really excited to do it, does parish missions frequently and thought this was right up his alley,” he commented.

Asked how these initiatives fit into his role with the diocese’s Catholic Formation office, the associate director explained his responsibilities include ministering to youth, young adults and families.

“When I started there was no family ministry, a little bit of young adult ministry and some great building blocks for youth ministry,” Hurtubise said, adding that they have been trying to maintain and grow the youth events.

“But as the Church-at-large, I think we are learning the hard lesson that families and adults are the key to her success. If you have families that are ‘all in’ living their faith, their kids are being served.”

Even though the diocese can, and will, continue to serve all youth, Hurtubise believes by forming parents and helping them “to want their Catholic faith and their relationship with Christ and the Church to be the heart of their family culture,” all three sectors his office seeks to serve will be ministered to most effectively.

He is convicted that their office’s work is more than putting on great events and offering moments of powerful encounter in collaboration with the work parishes do for adult faith formation.

“The most effective thing the Church can be doing (right now) is helping to facilitate organic, authentic Catholic relationships amongst adults. Getting together in each other’s homes, praying together, building authentic Catholic community. Gathering as families to pray, study and do service together.

“I sincerely hope that these retreats will serve as a diving board for that to happen,” he concluded.
Cost for the women’s retreat is $50, registration needed by Feb. 1.

For the men’s retreat cost is $60, with registration needed by Feb. 15.

Register with Grace Geisler at or 715-234-5044. For more information, contact Hurtubise at .