Jim Ryan is the founder and president of Catholic Retreats with Jim Ryan, an organization dedicated to the cultivation and development of each individual’s ability to more fully experience God’s Love. As Catholics we all are keenly aware that God loves each one of us as an individual. We also are aware that God’s love and Grace are always shining down on us, whether we are aware of it or not. Unfortunately, sometimes our human side gets in the way of our fully experiencing that Love and Grace. We are all human. It’s that human side of us that can hold us back, can get in the way.
Jim’s retreats help us work on our human side so we can be more open to experience God’s Love. Jim’s introduction to his retreats is a key their success. As a prelude to a parish retreat, Jim speaks at all the weekend masses. He has a warm and enticing manner that is an attractive introduction to the evenings that will follow. Jim’s retreats are shining examples of the “New Evangelization”. At his introduction Jim encourages parishioners to bring someone; someone who has fallen away from the Church, someone who might be hurting, someone who has lost hope. It works. Before each session as Jim “works the crowd” people will happily tell him that they brought someone with them that night. It might be a spouse, an adult child, a relative or a neighbor. They are often excited to share the message with those from outside the parish. Often parishioners will proudly share a story about how they brought the gospel message of the previous session to people at work.
The retreats can be tied to the Liturgical seasons, often being held as special parish events for Lent or Advent. Sometimes the focus is to communicate with young families who bring their children to religious instruction in preparation for the sacraments but rarely attend Sunday Mass.
Jim skillfully uses the words of Jesus through His parables to emphasize points throughout the retreat. Jim will often say, “It’s pretty clear what Jesus is telling us here” or, “What did Jesus tell us about Heaven.” Parishioners are encouraged to read the scriptures for themselves to deepen their Faith and understanding of “The Way”.
Pastors are extremely happy with the turnouts, often seeing hundreds of parishioners come the first night and keep coming back. Jim plays his guitar and sings to highlight the themes of each evening. He is a masterful storyteller who engages parishioners from young to old. One of Jim’s strengths is his ability to distill some substantive Gospel material in ways that are light, humorous and very encouraging. Everyone can relate to his easy style and profound insights into human nature and the message of the Gospel.
Following are two testimonial videos about Jim Ryan’s programs: