ACTS retreats have enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people; men and women, teens and retirees, rich and poor, Catholic and non-Catholic, in the United States as well as other countries. It has reinvigorated the spiritual lives of individuals, of families, of entire parishes. Yet, 25 years ago, it did not even exist. The way this wonderful program came to be is a beautiful blend of the Holy Spirit and those who listen to His words.
No history of ACTS would be complete without the help of, and some familiarity with, the Cursillo retreat. Cursillo began in Spain in the years between WWI and WWII, in response to what many in the church saw as the increasing secularization of many Catholics in Spain at the time. It was intended to be a short course (the Spanish for short course is "cursillo") on the Catholic faith, and soon became widely popular for its profound effect on people's spirituality. By the mid 1980's, it had spread to many places in the world, including Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Selma, Texas, a suburb of San Antonio. It was here that three men who were heavily involved in Cursillo planned the first ACTS retreat.
Since the three main points in Cursillo were Piety, Study, and Action, it was felt to be absolutely necessary to bring them into ACTS. Once again under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the founders used a dictionary to help correlate the letters A, C, T, and S into the themes of Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service. By the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:42-47 became the biblical inspiration for the weekend.
After that first retreat in 1987, ACTS spread parish to parish in the San Antonio Archdiocese, and by 1997 there were perhaps 15 parishes with an ACTS program in place. In that year, ACTS Missions was formed as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization for the purpose of spreading and maintaining the ACTS retreat wherever the Holy Spirit prompted it.
ACTS Missions was started by Larry Lopez and Tony Deosdade, two men who had such a profound experience on their retreat that they were inspired to make sure everyone in the world should have the opportunity to receive it as well. From its headquarters at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, this small organization now leverages thousands of volunteers every year to bring the retreat to even more thousands of people, allowing them to experience the love of God through their fellow Christians. Today, ACTS is in at least 22 states in the U.S., 8 states in Mexico, as well as Canada, Honduras, South Africa and England. Interest is growing literally around the world.
People have credited ACTS with saving their lives, saving their marriages, convincing them to be ordained as priests or deacons, or leading them to the religious life, simply by opening their eyes and their hearts to God's word. Pastors have praised its positive effects on their parishes, leading to highly invigorated parish life. Bishops and other church leaders have called it the most important movement in the Catholic Church today; all this from a handful of faith-filled people with the courage and perseverance to be led by the Holy Spirit.
ACTS MISSIONS spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ among Catholic communities by promoting, consulting in, facilitating and coordinating ACTS Retreats.
ACTS Missions Vision
Through the ACTS retreat, ACTS Missions provides a spark that ignites Catholics world-wide with the eternal flame of the Holy Spirit. As an instrument of God, ACTS is a light that will help bring about the New Evangelization by fostering love and true discipleship, leading others to a commitment and obedience to Our Lord Jesus Christ by our every word, action and thought.
For more information about ACTS, please contact the ACTS Core Team by clicking HERE.