We call it the retreat to the parish, or a retreat in the midst of everyday life.
It began in a chance conversation between a Protestant minister from Guelph and a Jesuit priest from 1983.
It's now a 30-year-plus tradition of sacred stories. The Ecumenical Week of Guided Prayer is provided by volunteer Prayer Guides, both lay and clergy. These volunteers come from a wide range of Christian denominations: this ecumenical nature of the gathering provides a unique experience rarely found in our Christian life.
All our Guides are trained and have experienced guided prayer: all have completed "The Listening Heart" course provided by Loyola House (or the equivalent); have seen a Spiritual Director on a regular basis; and have experienced the power of the Ignatian Exercises, an experience praying through the life of Christ for the purpose of discernment, spiritual growth or healing. Each Guide has participated in the Week of Guided Prayer as a retreatant, and feels called to be a Guide. Each Guide must be recommended by his or her Spiritual Director, a volunteer guide or other reference. These requirements are for the purpose of ensuring an understanding of Spiritual Direction, retreats and Ignatian Spirituality. They are not a certification or qualifying process.
Retreatants are from both church and non-church backgrounds. Retreatants find that they continue to be impacted by the gift of this powerful annual retreat long after the week has ended.
The Week of Guided Prayer volunteers form a Guild, and periodically offer retreats for Advent and Lent. Guild members may also run groups focused on spiritual growth and prayer. Many volunteer guides are also certified spiritual directors who offer Spiritual Direction services. A list of certified Spiritual Directors can be found at Spiritual Directors International and Spiritual Directors of Ontario