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.
Jim is also the author of “Simple Happiness, 52 Easy Ways to Lighten Up”.
The theme of the retreats is: "We Work on Our Human Side, So We Can Be More Open to Experience God’s Love."
-The First Session: 8 Characteristics of happy People. What are happy people like? It’s all in the context of working on our human side so we can be more open to God’s Love.
- Second Session: Managing Thought, the Key to Experiencing God’s Love. We discuss real strategies to let go of the negative thoughts that keep us away from God and encourage the Christian, Loving thoughts that let His grace to flow freely to us.
-Third Session: Start to Live Heaven on Earth. What did Jesus tell us about Heaven. What will Heaven be
We begin each session with a song and a meditation. The meditation consists of basking God’s presence for a moment. We feel the closeness of God and feel His Love for us. These two things really set the tone for the evening. It’s a great message; one that people are clamoring to hear, even if they don’t know they are. My gift is the ability to open people’s eyes to God’s Love and His invitation to live a loving Christian life.
“Our parish of St. Killian just completed a wonderful three evening mission that focused on happiness and holiness. Jim Ryan invited the parishioners to the retreat in an enticing and warm manner that was an attractive introduction to what would follow. His talks each evening were very well received and the 300 people that came on the first night returned each evening. Jim played a few songs on the guitar each evening highlighting his themes. He is a masterful storyteller who engaged parishioners from young to old Everyone could relate to his easy style and profound insights into human nature and the message of the Gospel” - Fr. Bruce J. Powers, Pastor
"A most entertaining and enlightening 90 minutes. Empowers you to make a positive change in your daily life." - Scott Werner
"Very inspirational! Very encouraging! Jim made me smile throughout." - Pat B.
"I enjoyed your talk a great deal!!! Lots of common sense, good reflections and advice. I hope you come back soon!!!" - Carmela Occhi