Society of Mary USA, Marist Ministries Society of Mary, Marists in the USA, Roman Catholic Priests, Brothers, and Laity

"Christ Renews His Parish" Ignites Our Lady of the Assumption Parish
by Amanda Reilly

The CRHP XLI Team and Participants
The CRHP XLI Team and Participants
Ask any parishioner what draws them to Our Lady of the Assumption Parish (OLA) in Brookhaven, Georgia, and chances are they will respond that it is the strong and vibrant parish community. 

Many consider the parish their family, and Reverend James Duffy, S.M., pastor of OLA, attributes much of this feeling to a long-standing, thriving parish ministry –Christ Renews His Parish™ (CRHP).

On the weekend of February 5-7, 2016, participants gathered for the 41st CRHP weekend at OLA. Father John Hamf, S.M. first introduced CRHP to OLA in 1980. Since then, over 1000 parishioners have attended this lay directed weekend that now takes place once a year. Unlike CRHP weekends held at other parishes, the weekend here at OLA is co-ed, and participants do not spend the night.

Each CRHP weekend at OLA follows a similar format, but is different in some respects because of the team chemistry, participants, and the chosen theme for the year. 

This year's theme of, "Be Still. I Am Near." resonated deeply with many participants who find it challenging to make room for their spiritual lives in the fast-paced, information-filled world in which we currently live.

While directed by a team of parishioners who plan for almost a year, it is the efforts of the entire parish community that contribute to the long-running success of this program. Past participants help with everything – planning, food and supply donations, childcare for both participants and team members, and adoration. 

CRHP Team Members enhance their friendships over the weekend.
CRHP Weekends are full of fellowship, prayer, and a lot of laughs.

There is strong bonding in every weekend renewal, and it is always evident that there is a building of community and increased love for each other that was not previously present. Father Duffy also sees CRHP as the springboard for developing many of the true stewards of his parish community.

Late parishioners, Bill and Helen Heil,  attended the first Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish (OLA).
Late parishioners, Bill and Helen Heil,
attended the first Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish (OLA).
Helen Heil, a late OLA parishioner, attended every CRHP weekend at OLA up until her passing in 2015 – 40 in all.  In a much beloved open letter to participants penned before her death, Helen and her late husband Bill noted:

"At the time of the first CRHP, OLA parish life lacked a certain vitality, warmth, and spiritual growth.  Many parishioners seemed lukewarm, content to rush to Mass, leave early, never recognize or greet others.  If someone should ask if CRHP had made a difference in the spiritual growth of OLA parishioners, the answer would be a resounding, 'YES.'  We have seen wonderful, dramatic changes in individuals, even seemingly miraculous conversions, and other slower but just as wonderful changes take place in our parish."

Even after 36 years of history, the popularity of CRHP at OLA continues to increase. The 2016 weekend saw a record amount of interest – with an extensive waitlist of people hoping to attend. Participants have already started reserving their spots for the 2017 weekend. The Holy Spirit orchestrated incredible changes at OLA through CRHP, and there is great anticipation about what this program holds for the parish in the future.

More information on Christ Renews His Parish™ (CRHP)>