Last fall, over 600 parishioners at Saint Michael Parish participated in The Rescue Project, an eight-week program that culminated with a retreat on the first Sunday of December. The Rescue Project is a series from Acts XXIX that profoundly shares the Gospels. The series features Fr. John Riccardo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, who founded Acts XXIX in 2019.
“We wanted to bring something new and different to Saint Michael Parish during Ordinary Time,” says Michaela Moreau, Steward for Evangelical Catholic, Small Groups, and Bible Studies. “Fr. Jim thought The Rescue Project would be a great fit because of the communal aspects of the program. The program is free and includes resources for our facilitators on the website.”
Indeed, with 62 groups at our parish, The Rescue Project was an incredibly engaging opportunity for both new and lifelong Catholics. Each week, groups would gather for a meal, the video for the week, and discussion led by one of the 112 facilitators. Every gathering was a chance to delve deeper into the Gospels and further participants’ understanding of the Paschal Mystery — the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
“For years, my husband, Jered, and I listened to Fr. John Riccardo,” says Jenni Boyd, a participant. “When we heard this program was an option for the parish, and especially in the small-group setting, Jered and I were like, ‘We’re in!’ I think as Catholics, we think we know the Gospel — but do we really? If we did, wouldn’t there be more of us who are overwhelmed by what Jesus has done for us — more of us who want to share that message with others?”
It was through The Rescue Project that Jenni had a profound realization about her life.
“There are three people on the stage of my life — Jesus, me, and Satan,” Jenni says. “That’s why bad things happen. Often I want God to explain to me why the world is so messed up. I forget that the third person on the stage hates me and wants me to fail. Satan is the cause of all this chaos, sadness, and darkness.”
The program also brought a lot of joy and understanding to parishioners. This was evident through the retreat at the end of the program.
Participants were invited to a half-day retreat that occurred on Dec. 3. It was the conclusion to eight weeks of deep prayer and engagement. Parish clergy, staff, and volunteers facilitated the retreat which included Confession, Mass, and dinner.
“The retreat was amazing, and I’m so thankful for all the work that the parish staff put into hosting this huge event,” Jenni says. “Having Confession available before and during the evening made it even better! What affected me the most, though, was being overwhelmed by the thought that the God of the universe loves me — that He thinks I was worth the trouble it took to come save me. It made me realize why all my favorite stories have that prince or superhero character that is willing to pay any price, make any sacrifice, or face any risk to save the one he loves.”