Jessica Sroczynski stands in front of a Victorian cottage, no more than a hop, skip, and a jump from the ocean at Cape May Point, New Jersey. For a moment, it looks as if the 28-year-old is going to grab a sand bucket and shovel, and hustle down to the beach to play, but today she's busy talking about her job as program director of the Cape May Marianists Family Retreat Center. It is her task to help the Roman Catholic Marianist brotherhood strengthen families and help parents transmit spiritual values to their kids through the center's activities.
"You don't have to be of any particular faith to come to a family retreat," she says. All that's needed is an openness to God, the willingness to reconnect with one's family -- and the energy to build a lot of sand castles. Finding time to hang out as a family, let alone talk about deeply held beliefs, is downright tough, but hectic schedules may be precisely why an increasing number of families are heading for the mountains or the beach to attend spiritually based family retreats.
Family retreats not only help strengthen family bonds, they provide a supportive community of families who share similar spiritual values, and help parents grow in their own faith while providing their kids an opportunity to build theirs. "We create an intentional community," explains Cape May Retreat Center director Anthony Fucci.
For a weekend or a week, families pray together, sing together, and join in family-centered activities, such as plays or skits to improve communication, facilitate forgiveness, and nurture commitment.
Continued on page 2: A Family in Crisis