Clergy Support Memorial Church

A Church Without Walls

Sun shining through the clouds

Connection Retreat: A part of Recovery Ministry

Rev. Peter Sheridan has been a longtime coordinator of men’s recovery retreats in Calgary, AB. Last summer, CSMC provided funding to help sponsor some participants. The retreat took place in June.

This was the first year we were able to have a retreat since 2019, due to the pandemic. We thought the theme should be connection or re-connection.  We understand that the opposite to addiction is Connection. Connection is so important to all of us, whether we are in recovery or not.

Everyone came to the camp on Friday evening. We had 30 people in attendance and about half of these were sponsored in one way or the other.

We assembled and had a bite to eat while enjoying some music, and then opened with an icebreaker that really sets the tone for the weekend. We had people pair up with someone they don’t know or don’t know that well. We gave them about 15 minutes to get to know each other well enough to stand in front of the group and introduce each other. This seems to work well and really sets the tone for no cliques, no small groups. Everyone is included and no one is left out.

Saturday there was a rise and shine breakfast of pancakes and sausages. We had morning sessions focused on connection and reconnection. This was the first retreat since the pandemic, so we wanted to discuss how we can reconnect with each other. We have discovered over the years that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety or recovery – it is connection. We must be connected to our family, our sponsor, and/or our church family to maintain our recovery. We found during the pandemic as a church family we were fractured and to some extent that is still going today, so many months later.

Saturday afternoon we had some fun activities, an extensive scavenger hunt which took the different groups all over the grounds of the camp. It gave everyone an opportunity to connect with each other in God’s great wonderland. We had the occasion to come across some fawns complete with their spots – momma so close to protect. It was a close-up view of nature at its best. Some of our participants had not been out of the city and were excited.

We had a great pork roast dinner – complete with all the trimmings, and strawberry short cake for dessert. Camp food is the best. Later that evening we had an open AA meeting around the campfire. Some of our participants are not in AA but take part as if they are. Often the best feedback comes from those who are not in the program. They say they get so much out of participating. The evening concluded back in the hall for more music and evening snacks.

Sunday morning, we enjoyed a wonderful outdoor chapel for our morning service. Good music and a message from John 15, verse 5. We also enjoyed serving communion to each other. This is one part of the weekend I really enjoyed.

We returned to the camp for lunch, to clean camp, and get ready for the trip home.

The retreat is an opportunity to get a little closer to God or the God of our understanding. He has never failed to show up at all our retreats. This is an opportunity for newcomers to really experience God’s radical, relentless, and unconditional love for each of us. Everyone leaves Sunday afternoon wishing there was more time.

Friendships are made, stigma is lost, and reconciliation is begun. The more we can come together in His name, study what is required of us in life, and share with other like-minded men, the better off we all are.

Some of us attended the service in Calgary that night and shared with those who didn’t attend what they missed.

The planning for this year’s retreat is in progress. We greatly appreciate the support of CSMC.

Peter Sheridan
Life Recovery Ministries
Calgary Alberta