Mission & History of the Emmaus Experience Ministry
Our 3 part mission
to inspire women and men to begin or renew their personal relationship with Jesus Christ;
to build a sisterhood and brotherhood and community among the Parish by women ministering to women and men ministering to men
to use our love for the Lord and each other to serve the Church of the Resurrection and the Lakeland community.
History of the Emmaus Experience Ministry
Emmaus began in 1978, with the approval of the Archdiocese of Miami, by Myrna Gallagher. Myrna's life work has been teaching Catholic religious education to children, teens and adults. Myrna's pastor, Father David Russell, saw the need for a parish-based retreat and asked Myrna to put together a retreat that would focus on women ministering to women.
After intense prayer and much thought, it was established that the theme of the retreat would be based on the Scripture passage found in the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35, the Emmaus Reading. The retreat was formed to be a parish-based ministry. Myrna, and a team of lay women, executed the first Emmaus retreat at St. Louis Parish in Miami.
Emmaus is a move of the Spirit, not a movement. Emmaus is a life changing experience. It is an experience where women/men gather to be ministered to by other women/men. It is for women/men who wish to experience God, renew and deepen their relationship with the Lord.
The men's Emmaus retreat program began in 1986 at the Dominican Retreat House in Miami. "Emmaus is a communal experience when two or more are gathered, share and love one another, Jesus becomes present. It is simple my dear brothers, love one another." Jim Loretta
In the years that followed, the Emmaus Retreat Program has grown, and thousands of women and men have experienced it. Emmaus is available in many states and Latin American countries through the men and women, who attended the retreat, moved and started the program in their new parishes. In 2005, the Emmaus Experience for men and women was introduced to the Church of the Resurrection in Lakeland, FL
In the Emmaus reading, the two disciples, in the depths of despair, had a life-transforming encounter with Jesus on their journey to Emmaus. Their despair was turned into joy and their lives forever changed. Similarly, the thousands of men and women who have attended Emmaus retreats acknowledge the same experience after their encounters with Jesus on their personal journey to Emmaus. The retreat candidates gather to be ministered to by other members of the parish to experience God in a new way for personal and spiritual growth
The purpose of Emmaus is to build parish community. Emmaus is not separate from the parish, it is part of the parish ministry. Emmaus has an ongoing Discipleship Program that keeps everyone connected. This time gives everyone the opportunity to come together as people of faith and love and continue ministering to each other
The Discipleship Program also offers a Living Emmaus Retreat once a year for all women/men who have made the Emmaus retreat. This retreat is called Living because the original Emmaus experience happened to the two disciples in the Gospel of Luke. The weekend you attend is called "An Emmaus Experience" or our own personal experience. The Living Emmaus is offered to continue to guide and strengthen us because we are now living our Emmaus experience.
The most important ingredient for Emmaus is prayer. Prayer in thanksgiving for the gift of Emmaus as a ministry in a parish. In thanksgiving for the goodness and commitment of each woman/man who lovingly has make Emmaus their ministry. God alone allows Emmaus to be a ministry of a parish. And it is prayer that sustains the ministry.
"When he had seated himself with them to eat, he took bread, pronounced the blessing, then broke the bread and began to distribute it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him." -Luke 24:30-31