Our Past Retreats


Don’t let the devil take your family from you

FARGO FORUM – 2/20/23 by Roxane Salonen

People of good will, listen up: The devil is after your family!

Years ago, Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fátima, Portugal, received prophetic words from heaven that “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” Only the foolish would argue that marriage and the family aren’t in harm’s way.

At a recent “Heart of a Mother” retreat I attended with about 100 other women at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Hankinson, I was reinvigorated to challenge and help dismantle the Enemy of Lie’s game plan.

The retreat was hosted by Ecclesia Domestica , Latin for “the church in the home,” which helps Christians recognize the battle for holiness within their hearts and reclaim their identity as beloved children of God through a daily surrender to God’s plan.

Founded in Minnesota for and by men a little over a decade ago, the movement has been growing and strengthening, with women now joining the forces.

Though Catholic-focused, Ecclesia Domestica’s goals for restoring the family can be applied to anyone grasping the urgent necessity of the mission. Like St. Joan of Arc, we can fight for God’s holy will by:

Praying without ceasing. Ratchet up your prayer time. Reconfigure your day around communication with God. God has ample graces to bestow, but he will not impose his will. Commit to being in touch with him more frequently to tap into those graces.

Cleaning out the cobwebs. Get your soul right with God. What stands in the way of your intimate relationship with the Lord? What sins are holding you back from surrendering your life to the King of Kings? Confess your sins, go to therapy, face the mess and tidy up your interior to make room for more of God and his heavenly helpers.

Going deep by fasting. What pleasure would be hard to relinquish? Chocolate? Ice cream? Television? Frivolous shopping? Excess Smartphone use? Start with one thing and resist it. It might seem petty, but it will help strengthen your spiritual muscles for when you have to resist something even bigger.

Employing forgiveness: A retreat speaker said: “Forgiveness is a fire that can be contagious.” The Devil will shrivel at the words, “I forgive you.” We need to do our best to stay in the present, where God dwells.

Praying together: “Old Scratch” doesn’t stand a chance against a husband and wife united as a fortress to guard their family against evil. Marriage isn’t easy, and resentments can build. Seek to dismantle those wounds, and pray together every day or night; an invaluable tool against evil.

Uniting with other Christians: Community is important, so cultivate a network of other believers with strong values and build relationships with them to form support to add to your “church in the home” army.

As Sister Susan Marie said at the retreat, “Restore the family, and the Church will be restored as well.”

Hankinson 2023 Retreat Underscores Bishops’ Eucharistic Revival

March 17-19 at Hankinson’s Franciscan Retreat Center, about 115 men gathered in retreat focused on Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Themed “Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity,” the retreat explored Our Lord’s real presence at Mass and during Adoration, reorienting our thinking about the matter in the face of faltering belief among Catholics. The retreat was hosted by Ecclesia Domestica, a central Minnesota men’s ministry dedicated to evangelizing Catholic men by calling them to holiness in their families, parishes, communities, and workplaces.

Fr. Peter Anderl’s (pastor, St. Boniface Parish in Lidgerwood) keynote address tackled the issue head-on, describing the power of the Mass to convey Christ really present for us. Fr. Anderl noted, “Nothing is greater than the Mass! In it, Christ is re-presented as once and for all sacrificed. It will change your life.” He said that the world’s 400,000 priests say 400,000 Masses every day, and a million or more on Sunday. Millions of times per day, priests, deacons, and religious everywhere are praying divine office for us. Perhaps hundreds of millions of rosaries are prayed. As men, Fr. Anderl urged us to reclaim our masculinity as beloved sons of the father.

Ecclesia’s Kevin Olson challenged those in attendance with a series of questions. Why are there particular sins associated with men in these times? What should a dad look like? Why don’t we believe in the Holy Eucharist, and model it for our children? How should real men behave? Calling the men to a new holiness, he asserted, “Men need a Savior today!”

Fr. Bryan Kujawa of the Crookston Diocese spoke Friday afternoon at the retreat. Drawing from Isaiah 6, he emphasized the complete and most incredible change that occurs at the words of consecration during every Mass. “If transubstantiation is true, then how can the response possibly be apathy?” Urging a new level of Catholic imagination and wonder, he declared the Mass to be an open door to Heaven, where the Lord is sitting on His throne.

During the retreat, each man had an hour of spiritual direction with one of the twenty priests and deacons (pictured with our host Franciscan Sister!) present at the retreat.

Retreatants had an opportunity to examine documentation of eucharistic miracles that have occurred in the last thirteen centuries. These exhibits were initiated by the work of Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager who was “enthralled with the Eucharist.” Blessed Carlo died of leukemia in 2006 and was beatified in 2020.

On Saturday of the retreat, Fr. Brady Keller from St. Cloud celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, while at the same time providing a fascinating teaching about the physical, spiritual, and sometimes mystical elements represented in the liturgy.

Other highlights included a presentation on the prophetic dreams of St. John Bosco, on ordering our lives in a world of disorder, and on the Eucharistic Heart of Mary. Heartfelt lay testimonies came from men who have experienced the power of Christ in their personal lives.

Between these talks, the men met in small groups to discuss personal reactions to the ideas presented. Time was set aside for personal prayer, overnight Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary, Divine Office, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Saturday evening, eucharistic adoration was combined with a powerful prayer/praise and healing service.

On Sunday morning during open microphone session, one man – the youngest one there – summarized the reaction of many: “The chaos in the Church right now! After these three days, are you going home to just wrap that mess on again? Or are you going to be part of healing her?”

Defending God’s Church: Almost 120 Answer the Call at Hankinson Men’s Retreat

Almost 120 men from eight dioceses across three states traveled to the Franciscan Retreat Center in Hankinson on March 18 for an Ecclesia Domestica retreat themed “WHEN GOOD MEN DO NOTHING: Answering God’s Call to Defend His Church”.
The retreat called men to stand up as spiritual leaders in their families, their churches, their workplaces and their communities.

Ecclesia Domestica, Latin for ‘Church in the Home’, is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit men’s ministry first organized in the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN ( https://youtube.com/c/EcclesiaDomestica; www.EcclesiaDomestica.net). Its mission is to help men recognize the battle for holiness taking place in their hearts and souls. As such, the ministry conducts retreats to encourage men to reclaim their identity as beloved sons of the Father.

Ecclesia’s president, Kevin Olson, led off the Hankinson retreat by pleading with men to “stand your post.” He outlined men’s role in marriage as the spiritual head of the family and called for fearlessness in embracing the job. “Our wives want it, and our kids and grandkids desperately need it,” he said.

Attended by nearly twenty priests and deacons, each man had an hour of one-on-one spiritual direction with a cleric. Often this was the first time these men had private time to ask about personal issues, church doctrine, spiritual health, and the like.

During the weekend, priests and deacons provided general talks to the entire group, including Fr. Peter Anderl of St. Boniface/St. Martin of Tours/Sts. Peter & Paul Parishes (Lidgerwood, Geneseo, and Cayuga) and Fr. Patrick Parks from St. Helena/St. Patrick Parishes (Ellendale and Fullerton). Fr. Parks expanded on the great theme of St. John Paul II: “Be not afraid,” he urged. “Accept Christ’s power into your lives!”

Fr. Anderl gave the opening keynote talk Friday morning. Using the retreat’s theme about answering God’s call, he called on the men present to throw off spiritual slumber and stand up for the church.

Laymen spoke to the group as well. For example, Nathan Roy, a first responder from Hancock, MN passionately described the wounds that men suffer from, and which restrain them from the spiritual responsibilities they have. Kevin Dockendorf, Ecclesia Board member and a businessman from the St. Cloud area, urged the retreatants to stand up to the fight, effectively using the example of Gideon’s army as proof that God will be with us in the battle.

Presenters underscored the Rosary as an anchor in their personal prayer lives. Each retreatant received a blessed Rosary hand-crafted by retreat emcee and Ecclesia board member Dcn. Craig Korver of Little Falls, MN who echoed St. Padre Pio’s famous line that his Rosary was his “weapon of choice.”

Those present took part in small groups, as well. After each talk, these informal discussion sessions allowed interchange and feedback where men could relate the messages to events in their everyday lives.

Each day, all attended Mass, prayed Rosary, sang the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, worshiped Christ in all-night adoration, and recited the morning and evening Divine Office. On Saturday, the feast of St. Joseph, Bishop John Folda of the Fargo Diocese and six other priests concelebrated Mass for the men in a beautiful and transcendent liturgy.

Saturday evening included a powerful praise, worship, and intercessory prayer ministry. As the evening started, Fr. Anderl consecrated and knighted each man to Mary our Blessed Queen Mother, to serve in her Army. As knights of her Militia Immaculata, each man is part of her work in bringing forth the reign of Christ the King in hearts, homes and families. While “crushing the head of the serpent underfoot,” the men are following the example of St Joseph, St Maximillian Kolbe, St Louis de Montfort and other heroes of our faith.

Next year, Ecclesia Domestica has been asked back to the Franciscan Retreat Center for two retreats. In February 2023, they will coordinate a three-day women’s retreat. The following month, they will invite men to Hankinson to learn about and again celebrate Catholic manhood through the tools provided by the Roman Catholic Church.

Ecclesia Domestica Men’s Retreat Convenes in Hankinson

More than eighty men gathered at Hankinson’s Franciscan Retreat Center March 12-14 in a retreat to explore the Church as a refuge in these difficult times.

Coming from the Dioceses of Fargo, Crookston, St. Cloud and Sioux Falls, plus the Archdioceses of St. Paul/Minneapolis and Chicago, the men heard about obedience as a virtue from Fr. Jayson Miller who works in the Fargo Chancery offices. In his Saturday morning keynote talk, Fr. Miller explained what obedience is and what it is not, especially considering Aquinas, holy scripture, and modern-day saints. “Obedience is the most praiseworthy of the moral virtues, since by it, we give to God what is our greatest possession: our own will,” he noted.

Earlier, Fr. Peter Anderl of St. Boniface Parish in Lidgerwood reviewed fatherhood, manly example, and responsible family leadership from the perspective of St. Joseph.

Other testimonies were presented by Ecclesia Domestica (‘church in the home’) laymen from the St. Cloud Diocese. Ecclesia member Luke Waltman made a passionate plea, calling men to pray the Rosary daily. He outlined the fruits obtained when men establish this habit personally and in their families. Ecclesia president Kevin Olson called those present to “stand their post” in family and in parishes. “We are in a spiritual battle against a culture that would destroy what we believe in. We cannot send the delicate to the front lines. Pick up the sword of the spirit – real men are called for!”

Small group sessions were interspersed with these talks, where retreatants informally explored in more depth the presentations they were hearing. In addition, each man participated in an hour of private spiritual direction with one of the dozen or so priests and deacons who attended.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated each day of the retreat. Exposition and adoration were available throughout each night, and Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy were prayed each day. On the last evening, the men’s urgent personal needs were addressed through prayer ministry.

Fr. Anderl was impressed with the events of these three days. “This was a time of fraternal bonding such as I have seldom seen. Men who hardly knew each other on Friday morning were opening up and sharing, which indicates substantial spiritual growth. As a result, we saw deep, deep healing among these men. There was freedom to love God with an undivided heart.”

A follow-up men’s retreat with Ecclesia Domestica tentatively has been scheduled for March 18-20, 2022.

Ecclesia Domestica Retreat

Belle Prairie TEC Center

April 5-8, 2018: Catholic Joy!

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It was several days of engaging large group talks and informal small group sessions, interspersed with Mass, spiritual direction, Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, confessions, Litany of the Sacred Heart, and much more.

Oh, Lord! How I need You! With these words, our keynote speaker Fr. Peter Anderl of the Fargo Diocese opened the retreat. He encouraged us not to just anticipate, but to really participate. Later, Fr. Anderl discussed discernment of spirits, and keeping God’s counsel and joy.

Small groups allowed each man to react to points made during the teachings. There were six such groups, which met after each talk. Each used a small group leader to organize and moderate the discussions.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass followed.

Fr. Greg Paffel’s Friday morning talk, “Sitting with
Jesus,” described using meditation to grow spiritually. A change of heart leads to change in behavior, he reminded us. Ecclesia man Kelly Leahy
spoke to the group about seeing your own personal joy by daily living through Jesus. Seek him, love him, Kelly urged.

Bishop Donald Kettler celebrated Mass at midday with 5 priests and all the men, which was a highlight and inspiration!

Between the teachings, Mass and events, each man spent at least an hour per day in spiritual direction with a priest or deacon – there were fourteen men in Holy Orders present during the four days. Spiritual direction allowed time for reflection on personal situations, even questions about church teachings and doctrine.

Small groups after each talk gave the retreatants an opportunity to explore the themes of presenters, and voice their own thoughts on topics presented.

Evenings were filled as well. Each day ended with Rosary and all-night adoration.

Fr. Paffel went into depth about his Marian devotion on Saturday, with a talk called “Standing with Mary” Called to stand with her, the Rosary is a most effective way to pray he asserted.

A layman’s testimony came from Paul Rhoda Saturday afternoon. He assured us that while battling sin is so difficult, if you are humble nothing can touch you. Deacon Craig Korver introduced prayer ministry with a talk on John 3:16 -21. Count it all joy, Deacon urged us. Using the example of building a guitar, he said that by bending we are formed into saints. Powerful prayer ministry followed, introduced by Fr. Paffel. One man said, “This was the most powerful thing that has happened to me. The room was filled with guardian angels!”

On Sunday following Mass and breakfast, men got the opportunity to respond and reflect about what they had experienced as the retreat wrapped up.

Ecclesia Domestica Retreat

Assumption/St. Anthony's Parishes

February 17, 2018: Calling the Holy Spirit

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Over Forty Men Call The Holy Spirit

Or maybe the Holy Spirit called men to Assumption Parish, Eden Valley last Saturday, February 17! At any rate, a large crowd was on hand for an Ecclesia Domestica Retreat under the theme Calling the Holy Spirit. They heard engaging talks and responded during informal small group sessions.

Starting the day with Rosary, Ecclesia man Jesse Morgan described the impact of Marian devotion on his wife and kids, his job, his spiritual life, and his walk with our Lord. Deacon Craig Korver followed up with a passionate call to “Go the Distance” spiritually, which formally kicked off the day. We CAN be perfect, but only through Jesus, Deacon Craig explained. “Pope Benedict said the world offers comforts, but Catholic men were made for PERFECTION.” And the way to that perfection, Deacon insisted, was to convert from being Saul which means ‘great one’, to being Paul, which means ‘small one.’

Small groups allowed each man to react to points made during the teachings. There were six such groups, which met after each talk. Each used a small group leader to organize and moderate the discussions.

Brett Hallberg of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Battle Lake, gave an absorbing teaching about his recognition of the Holy Spirit’s calling. He described it as “the full spectrum of the church, the full color and rainbow of our faith.” What a wonderful image of the majesty we have in the Bride of Christ. What we do – or what we do NOT do – to the least of our brothers makes all the difference, Brett felt.

Lunch by the church ladies was complimented by personal testimonies from two Ecclesia men, Nate Roy and Paul Rhoda of Assumption Parish, Morris. Father Aaron Nett gave the story of his call to the priesthood right afterwards. What a devoted son of our Lord Jesus! A group of men, each belonging to prayer groups in different parishes, spoke next about the fulfillment of men spiritually sharpening each other through parish men’s prayer groups.

The talks wrapped up with a manly call to Catholic action from Ecclesia Domestica President Kevin Olson. “Where are you, and where do you want to go?” he asked. Holy Mother Church is ready to take you there. Eucharistic Adoration followed, with a reflection from Fr. Jerry Mischke. Each man received prayer for personal needs and intercession, and many went to confession. Following the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the retreat ended with the men joining the Assumption Parish for Mass.

Ecclesia Domestica Retreat

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish

December 2, 2017: Calling the Holy Spirit

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About 35 men were present at the Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Morris, on Saturday, December 2 for a day-long retreat with the Ecclesia Domestica group. Kicked off with prayer and praise and well-received breakfast treats, Ecclesia Domestica President Kevin Olson then welcomed the group. His message about second chances used the symbol of a truck he had as a teen ager, which came back to him decades later.

Following Kevin’s testimony, keynote speaker Tim Cushing addressed the group about his conviction that the Church stands the test of reason. Using imagery from Aristotle to Descartes to Hawking to the Angelic Doctor of the Church – St. Thomas Aquinas, Tim drove home the point that we cannot deny the Roman Catholic Church is reasonably sound. Our souls are the essence of our bodies, just as the mind is the essence of our brain. What is our final cause for being here?

Small group sessions followed, where men informally broke down the previous talk and its relationship to each of them.

When the whole group reconvened, we listened as Brett Hallberg of Our Lady of the Lake in Battle Lake provided an emotional tour of his path to passionate Catholicism! An Air Force veteran, he described the Lord God nudging him and his family toward life decisions in miraculous ways. Fully willing to admit he wears his faith on his sleeve, Brett urged us to watch and respond to the Holy Spirit’s lead. “What message does He want to deliver through us?”, Brett questioned. Get out of our comfort zone, and “Be a hero” he urged us.

Fr. Larry Richards was featured in a luncheon video introduced by Ecclesia man John Schulzetenberg. Following that, Fr. John Paul Knopik of the nearby St. Mary’s and Ave Maria Parishes spoke of his recent week in deer camp. If deer hunting is joy in the natural sense, in the woods and around the lakes of northern Minnesota, then the Holy spirit is joy in the SUPER natural sense, he insisted. JOY, the acronym, means ‘Jesus Over You’, according to a fellow he knows. And the opposite is SAD: ‘Satan At the Door’. Both are a decision and a choice according to Fr. JP. The Holy Spirit is the spiritual scaffolding of the work-in-progress that is our life. What a stirring visual image of Father’s point!

The day wrapped up with time in Eucharistic Adoration, personal and intercessory prayer, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, all introduced in a talk by our host, Fr. Todd Schneider. He also heard confessions during this time. At the end of the day, we celebrated Mass with the Assumption Parish faithful. Mass – the pinnacle of human worship of our God. Just an excellent day!

Ecclesia Domestica Retreat

St. Alexius/Our Lady of the Angels/St. Paul’s Parishes

February 4, 2017: Defending Our Families

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Oh, what a blessed day! About 55 men showed up on Saturday, February 4 at Sauk Centre to hear about and discuss the theme of DEFENDING OUR FAMILIES. Kicked off by Adoration and First Saturday Mass at Our Lady of the Angels, the presentations that followed were led by men from Ecclesia Domestica (www.ecclesiadomestica.net), or ‘Church in the Home’. Under guidance from Heaven, it was hosted by local pastor Fr. Greg Paffel and attended by Ecclesia Domestica chaplain Fr. Jerry Mischke (here photo-bombed by Ecclesia’s Jesse Morgan).

Jesse gave a passionate defense of his personal Marian devotion, urging us forward for daily devotion to Our Lady through the Rosary.

Earlier, the men heard from Tim Drake, a Lutheran convert, author, former senior reporter for the National Catholic Register, and EWTN staffer. In well-received talks, Ecclesia’s Kerry Haugh and Kevin Dockendorf provided their testimonies regarding the importance of fellowship in the faith journey, and where to find strength in times of trouble.

Informal small group discussions provided the chance for the men to explore what they had heard. Ecclesia men Dan Mead and Deacon Craig Korver led two of these groups: "What was said in small group is private, but it was clear these men are seeking out our God in new ways," noted Mead.

Over lunch, Fr. Paffel exhorted all to demonstrate the qualities of King David: a king and leader, a prayerful man, a scandalous sinner but come to repentance, one with respect for the authority of kingdom before him, and a man of honor and bravery. Good qualities for men today!

Ecclesia Domestica leader Kevin Olson wrapped up the retreat with a passionate call for Catholic men to stand up in the faith, to be the husbands, fathers, and church lay leaders that God expects of us. We have such power and grace from God through Holy Mother Church.

Following Mass for Sunday and another tasty meal (thank you, ladies of St. Paul’s!) the evening closed with a powerful prayer ministry and altar call. Men are truly equipped to lead our 'Church in the Home'!

Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Men's Retreat

December 3, 2016: Following Christ

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Called to follow Him, nearly 40 Catholic men came to Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Mary’s School in Morris on Saturday, December 3 for an all-day retreat. The men heard thought-provoking talks from Kevin Olson, Dcn. Craig Korver, Kerry Haugh, Nic Davidson, Fr. John Paul Knopik, and Kevin Dockendorf and Jesse Morgan.

The day kicked off with a passionate call to the Rosary by Jesse Morgan. Himself consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he discussed what he calls his “weapon of choice: The Rosary.” Dcn. Korver’s message outlined the importance of our faith in standing up as Catholic Men.

Kerry Haugh, a businessman and farrier from Wells, gave a passionate talk on the importance of fellowship for Catholic men. Entitled I Cannot Stand Alone, Haugh called the men to join together for strength in our families and our parishes.

Kevin Dockendorf, a business owner who lives in the St. Cloud area, used the story of the old testament Joseph and his brothers. He assured those present of the pathway back from any situation we encounter. Donning his own dream coat, Dockendorf argued the case from scripture for never losing confidence in God’s care for us.

From all over the area, men of all ages and all walks of life came to this event. They heard messages as diverse as St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to discovering Jesus and His power to save us. Local Pastor Fr. Todd Schneider wrapped up the day with a talk on the events of Fatima nearly 100 years ago, the destination of a pilgrimage he is leading next year.

During the day, each presentation was followed by a small group session, where those in attendance could voice personal reactions to issues being raised. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (concelebrated with Fr. Jerry Mischke and Fr. Todd Schneider) with the Assumption congregation took place late in the afternoon. Additionally, the men and their families enjoyed a sumptuous supper (thank you to the cooks and kitchen workers!), and then powerful prayer and praise ministry afterwards.

St. Andrew's Parish (Elk River) Men's Retreat

November 26, 2016: Over 40 Catholic Men of FAITH

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A diverse group of men came together at St. Andrew’s Catholic Parish in Elk River on November 26 to examine their Catholic Faith at the Ecclesia Domestica Men’s Retreat.

Beginning the day in devotion to Our Lady, early arrivers prayed the Rosary in the main Church before joining in spontaneous adoration of our Lord in the Tabernacle.

With Nic Davidson leading the way, the men learned about Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in their first talk of the day. Deacon Craig Korver followed up with a passionate discussion of Catholic faith, and what it has meant in his life. Kerry Haugh, a farrier from Wells, MN described the importance of fellowship in our faith. Haugh used of the strength of a rope, versus the weaknesses of individual fibers that are easily broken. We have real strength through the body of Christ, our Church. Kevin Dockendorf, a small business owner from Cold Spring, ardently argued the scriptural case that there is a way back from trouble and despair.

Following each presentation, in small groups, the men examined the issues raised and shared their own situations.

Fine dining was evident! The men were served by a festive kitchen staff who served Pastor’s Lasagna for lunch. It was topped off with a dose of wisdom during a lunchtime welcome from Pastor Mark Innocenti of St. Andrews.
Late in the afternoon, the men prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song, and then celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Fr. Jerry Mischke presiding.

With a burning call to action, Ecclesia Domestica (‘Church in the Home’) leader Kevin Olson urged that all Catholic men tap into the heavenly power available through our magnificent Catholic Church. Loyal to its magisterial authority, we have available to us the abundant graces of God, through the work of Jesus Christ. To a rousing round of applause, Olson urged that we wrap ourselves in the mantle of our Blessed Lady, and step out in Catholic faith in our families, parishes, workplaces and communities. The day wrapped up with powerful prayer ministry filled with the Holy Spirit.

In a note the following day, one participant had this to say: “For me after the retreat my heart is just overflowing. I can hardly contain it. After this retreat I feel a little scared and yet excited about what the Holy Spirit is telling me and where He’s leading me. In faith I will keep on following HIM.” Well said!

St. James Parish (Maine Township) Men's Retreat

August 13, 2016: 42 Men: Called to Follow Him!

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Over 40 men arrived on Saturday, August 13 at 8:00 a.m. for a men’s retreat themed “Catholic Men: Called to Follow Him”. Held on the verdant grounds of St. James Parish, rural Underwood, it was led by the men of Ecclesia Domestica, under the guidance of local pastor Fr. LeRoy Schik and Fr. Jerry Mischke (retired).

The men were on fire for our Lord and Savior by the end of the Large Group talks, Small Group sessions, panel discussions, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song, confessions, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

After Rosary in the sanctuary led by the neighboring Men of Mary in Battle Lake, the group heard an engaging and spirited presentation about the meaning of being a man, based on the creation story in Genesis, and the responsibilities of men discussed in Ephesians. This keynote talk was presented by Nic Davidson of St. Cloud, a convert to the faith and former Assemblies of God missionary in Haiti.

In front of St. Joseph and Our Lady, Kevin Olson of the Ecclesia Domestica team gave a passionate call to manly holiness. Latin for “Church in the Home”, Kevin’s group is fervent in calling men to stand up in leadership, faith and modeling the spiritual tools available through and provided by our Holy Mother Church.

Talks by Ecclesia’s Dan Mead of Avon, Jesse Morgan of Zimmerman, and Kevin Dockendorf of Cold Spring rounded out the large group presentations. Interspersed were directed but informal small group sessions where men had the chance to react to the talks. Deacon Craig Stich was the luncheon speaker, and a panel of men’s prayer group representatives discussed their experiences regarding men in prayer at other parishes.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Mass followed late in the afternoon. Following Mass, St. James Parish provided another excellent meal, which was followed by prayer ministry in the early evening. As a follow up to this retreat, a group of local parishioners are planning to meet August 27 to start a local men’s prayer group at St. James Church.

Ecclesia Domestica (Little Falls) Men’s Retreat

April 7-10, 2016: Hear the CHURCH BELLS Calling YOU?

Led by a group of priests and deacons as well as dynamic lay speakers, some 60 or so men gathered at Central Minnesota TEC in Little Falls this past weekend for a wonderful and blessed Ecclesia Domestica Retreat.

Thursday night began with introductions and an exposition of the Eucharist. Then we heard the call to the pinnacle of prayer: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Fr. Greg Paffel concelebrating with Fathers Jerry Mischke and John Paul Knopik. After small group sessions, Eucharistic Adoration followed throughout the night.

Following praiseful music (a feature we enjoyed all weekend), Friday’s opening session featured Fr. Paffel, using Acts 25 and the subject of anchors. Later, the Diocese of Duluth’s Nic Davidson spoke about each of us as the prodigal, in a rousing call to holiness. Dan Schonhardt wrapped up the evening.

In between, we had time for meaningful small group sessions as well as quiet times throughout the day. Fr. Paffel led all with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song at about 3:30. Mass was celebrated just before supper, and the day wrapped up with Rosary and all-night Eucharistic Adoration.

More and more followed on Saturday. In large group sessions we heard themes like “Our Father in heaven”, “Jesus as our brother”, “reaping the fruits”, “goodness of heart, goodness will flow”, Leading with weakness to be humble”, “our heart determines our will”, “finding the opening in Jesus’ heart”, and “the Eucharist as our power source.” Small group sessions were the source of more heartfelt and emotional sharing.

Over the course of the two days, each man received one hour per day in spiritual direction with a priest or deacon, in order to mull over personal issues and receive good counsel.

Saturday evening brought us a talk on the Holy Spirit, and then prayer ministry. Many men felt the power of that Holy Spirit, as others worshipped the exposed Jesus in Adoration.

Sunday morning after Mass and a nourishing breakfast, closing testimonies were received. Speaking of breakfast, nothing but kudo’s for the chow all weekend! Thanks goes out to brothers Paul R., Terry, and Nate (with Paul A. assisting?).

If you weren’t there, you missed a GOOD ONE!

Assumption Parish (Morris) Men’s Retreat

December 5, 2015

Wow, what a crowd! More than 40 men attended this year’s men’s one-day retreat at Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Morris MN on December 5. Led by the men of Ecclesia Domestica, Catholics from all across the diocese heard passionate and meaty talks from laity and priests alike.

Themed as CATHOLIC MAN: Spiritual Head of Household, those present heard about real Catholic men, Catholics in the world, the parish responsibilities of a good Catholic man, Catholic Leadership in the workplace, and a Catholic man’s challenge to “Stand our Post”.

Fr. John Paul Knopik of Ave Maria Parish in Wheaton and St. Mary’s Parish in Chokio provided a rousing and well received discussion about Catholic Men in the world. “As you go out into the world among all you meet there, take the Church with you,” he advised. “It’s got the tools you need.” Wrapping up, Fr. John Paul warned that too many men “forget to come back.” We cannot let the world’s attractions lure us away.

As he reviewed his own story about life in the labor force, small businessman Kevin Dockendorf of Cold Spring asserted that we must reflect truly honest and ethical principles. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the employer or employee. Be of good character.”

As those present listened to Fr. Todd Schneider, they heard a foundational argument for the power of God in all things. “Watch for Him!” Father urged. Again and again, God makes Himself known to us. In just the presentations given today for example, At least three of the speakers inserted points based on Ephesians 5. “Why would that be, unless God was underscoring a lesson there for us?”

Even the food on this day was exceptional. One person rated it a ‘10’, saying the “service was great, food was excellent, so much variety!”

Ending the day in prayer, the men praised God in word and song, and interceded for each other. Numerous prayer needs were raised up, and blessings received.

Dear Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thank you so much for hosting the Ecclesia Domestica Retreat for Catholic Men. It was very interesting and well done. Many thanks to all who prepared the lunch and supper– it was a thanksgiving meal. May God bless you all in his love and keep you in his care. Our love to all! Otis (From Assumption Parish Bulletin, 12/20/15)

Bricelyn Men’s Retreat

October 2-4

A powerful several days for men of the Winona Diocese finished on October 4 in Bricelyn MN, as the Ecclesia Domestica Retreat came to a close.

Eucharistic Adoration was an essential part of this experience, as the picture here shows. On Friday, Fr. Tom Niehaus and the retreatants processed with Jesus held high throughout the retreat center, and eventually into the Adoration Chapel where overnight exposition occurred both nights of the retreat.

Those attending heard powerful messages on men as “Wounded Warriors”, totally giving ourselves to Christ through Our Lady, the Holy Spirit, Men staying on post, and more. The importance of Catholic men in a world in crisis was the theme for a pair of talks by EWTN personality and founder of RADIX, Mr. Doug Barry.

Plan to attend the next Ecclesia Domestica Retreat, set for Assumption Church in Morris MN on December 5, 2015.

What you can expect of Ecclesia Domestica?

There is Mass, Confession and other forms of prayer available such as Rosary, Angelus, Liturgy of the Hours, Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There will be large group and small group sessions and ample time for individual prayer and reflection. Each retreatant is offered one hour of spiritual direction each day. It will be a wonderful opportunity to grow in your Catholic faith!

What Happens at the Ecclesia Domestica Retreat?


It is recommended you receive the sacrament before you arrive for the retreat. Our Priests will be available to hear confessions throughout the weekend.


Since the Eucharist is the pinnacle of all the sacraments; we celebrate the Holy Mass daily while on retreat.


Our small groups are designed for a more intimate approach in sharing and in prayer.


Our large group sessions are designed for Praise & Worship, prayer and testimonies.


Retreatants will have one hour of spiritual direction on Friday & Saturday. Retreatants will have spiritual direction with a Priests or Deacons.


We will pray the Rosary daily.


There will be perpetual adoration throughout the Retreat. This will give you the opportunity to sit with our Lord.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided. Bring snacks to share.