Peace and Well-Being

 

If you find yourself in this page, we assume that somehow Prayer and Life Workshops (PLW) is relatively new for you. We have dedicated the contents of this page to priests and pastors who wish to know more about the Workshops and who are considering, maybe for the first time, to bring a Workshop to their parish. We sincerely hope this webpage is of help.

If you are already familiar with PLW and you are looking for a way to contact us, please go to our Contact page.

About the name of Prayer and Life Workshops. It is important to clarify that the Prayer and Life Workshops (PLW) that are offered in parishes and other locations are organized by an association of laywomen and laymen of the name Prayer and Life Workshops. Thus, in these pages (and usually in general) when we refer to "a Workshop by PLW" we understand by the context that PLW means the "association of PLW".

The Workshop. The main service of PLW is to offer and promote the Workshops. A Workshop is a series of sessions where a participant learns to pray in different forms or methods of prayer, and to live a new evangelization. The sessions of a Workshop are weekly, at the parish or meeting place, and they last about 2 hours each, except for the last reunion: the Workshop finishes with a retreat.

Besides the Workshops, PLW offers one-day retreats, marriage courses, evangelization for children, among other services. For a thorough description, please visit the webpage of PLW International: tovpil.org.

Ecclesial Approval. PLW is a Private International Association of Laymen, of Pontifical Law, with a Judicial Personality, since 1997, confirmed by the Holy See, with an official decree from the Pontifical Council of Laymen, dated October 4, 2002. TOV International presents the details of this decree in their website tovpil.org. In the Archdiocese of Toronto, TOV is registered as a Lay Association.

 

We Need Priests

 

Even though, Prayer and Life Workshops is a lay association, and priests are not part of the organizational structure, PLW needs pastors and priests in the parish to be able to participate of the parish, offering our services (which are temporary). Priests are our shepherds, and we dedicate our service to them through the Church. Prayer and Life Workshops is a lay service that promotes evangelization to revitalize the Church, and a fundamental characteristic of the Workshops is to be a help that revitalizes the parish, not an obstacle for the parochial project. Thus, PLW needs priests and pastors to be interested in a Workshop so that we can offer our services to the parish community. We need priests willing to bring to their community the experience of the encounter with God that the Prayer and Life Workshop teaches.

It is important to mention that Prayer and Life Workshops is in union with the Catholic Church and at the same time is autonomous, dependent of the Pontifical Council of Laymen because we are a Private International Association of Laymen, of Pontifical Law, with a judicial personality

 

PLW Teach to Pray and to Live

 

The main service of PLW is a Workshop. A Workshop consists of: one opening session, 14 weekly sessions, and one retreat of about a day, which we call a "Desert". During the sessions of a Workshop, the participants learn to pray with different methods, in a more contemplative manner, following the style of Jesus; to see God as the most caring and tender Father in the world. Participants learn to walk a life of faith as Mary did, to live asking themselves continuously: what would Jesus do in my place?

The methods of prayer taught in a Workshop are eminently contemplative. All along a Workshop, it is anticipated that the participant improves her or his way of praying, learning a variety of methods for praying, and that praying is made a daily habit.

Praying becomes a daily habit. The results from a Workshop depend on how the participant implements the practice of praying half hour a day, with the help from the guidelines of each session of the Workshop. We call this daily practice, in which the participant dwells in intimacy with God, the Sacred Half Hour. During this half hour, the participant practices the method of prayer that was taught in the session at the Workshop that week. And progressively, as she or he advances through the sessions, week by week, the participant learns to live her or his prayer in silence and in peace. Moreover, participants learn a variety of prayer methods they can use to adjust to daily life circumstances (distractions, work and family commitments, noise, etc.) that would otherwise may have force them to skip praying that day. Thus, step-by-step, the participant learns, first, forms of prayer that are simple, such as the prayerful reading and the written prayer, and then advances to learn proper contemplative prayer, prayer in the place of Jesus, and praying with nature. Yet another important part of the Workshop, is the integral forgiveness and peace with oneself that the participant learns to achieve through the renewed knowledge of God, as presented by the Workshop.

The methods of prayer of the Workshops, and the life that the Workshops invite to are the result of years of dedication by our founder, Fr. Ignacio Larrañaga, and are the distillation of his books, inspired in St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Avila, and St. Therese of Lisieux, among others.

 

A Workshop's Audience

 

A Workshop is open to every layperson interested in Christian faith. There is no requirement whatsoever, specialization or previous studies, in order to attend a Workshop. Everyone is welcomed, from the person that does not know how to find a verse in the Bible to seminarians and theologians. Much of the richness of a Workshop rests in the sharing of the prayer experiences as well as the life experiences of the participants.

While a Workshop can be an excellent instrument for catechesis and an introduction to Christian life, we are aware of dioceses around the world where the Bishop has requested a Workshop be offered to the diocese's seminarians during their studies. The Workshop does not entertain in theological discussions, nor works as a discussion group of contemporary topics. The participant shares what God is personally telling her, or him, with the Word we listened to at the Workshop's session. Similarly, when participants share after the prayer practice, and at the time of reviewing their faith experiences of the week, they tell about their personal contact with God in their daily prayer, and their daily lives.

Moreover, there are several versions of the Workshops, each tailored to adults, youth and children. Often times, Workshops are offered to groups within a parish, such as young adults and different ministries.

 

Some Practical Details Regarding a Workshop

 

What is needed to open a Workshop? To open a Workshop requires: one or two Guides (the persons that teach the Workshop), a place to meet-up weekly that will fit about 20 persons, preferably in a parish, and the material used in the Workshop (the material has a cost of about $15 per person). PLW provides the Guides and the material for the Workshop, while the place to meet has to be provided by the parish. The meet-up place, such as a parish hall or room, must be made available for the Workshop for at least 2 hours one day of the week for 15 consecutive weeks. The Desert takes place after the 15th session, usually on a Saturday, in a retreat center. PLW tries to find a place in a retreat center for each Workshop, however, often times two or more Workshops share the same Desert, depending on the availability of retreat centers in the area.

When do Workshops start? There are 2 cycles or terms in the year, one starting in January (or February), and another one in August (or September). Preparations for opening a Workshop start several weeks in advance, and preferably a few months before the opening session of the Workshop. The specific day and time of the week for the Workshop sessions is defined by the parish that will host the Workshop

Promotion of the Workshop. Promotion of an upcoming Workshop happens mainly in the host parish and neighborhood. The Workshop is announced at weekend Mass times, starting at least 2 weekends prior to the opening session of the Workshop. It is recommended that the date and time of the opening session of the Workshop be clearly stated, and to mention that the Workshop has 15 sessions. The announcement at the Mass may be made by the preceding priest or a lector at the end, but also by a guide from PLW if possible. We have learned by experience that if the priest that celebrates the Mass includes an invitation to the Workshop emphasizing the need and benefits of taking a Workshop from PLW the response from the community and turnout is much more positive. We also find important to kindly ask those that may be interested in the Workshop to call the parish office to pre-register. This helps to estimate the amount of material for the Workshop, and also to plan and adjust the promotion of the Workshop. If the parish prints a parish bulletin, it is definitively useful to announce the Workshop with a blurb. The local coordination of PLW will cover predesigned printouts for the promotion of the Workshop, such as leaflets and posters. If at all possible, the Workshop can be promoted in nearby parishes, and using social media and digital means of communication, such as social networks and emails to ex-participants.

Pre-registration and integration. It is recommended that the parish office keep a pre-registration for the Workshop, that is, when a person interested in the Workshop calls the parish office, that her or his name be written down with a contact phone number. This will help estimate the material for the Workshop. Besides, if one or two weeks from the opening session of the Workshop the pre-registration is low, it will be possible to increase or adapt the promotion of the Workshop. Even though, if for some reason the pre-registration is too low, with just 3 to 5 persons, it is recommended that only the opening session be given and invite the participants to integrate with another Workshop in the area.

Workshop material. The material that each participant receives is: 1 Encounter handbook, 1 songbook, 1 small folder, 1 printout with the "brief guidelines", and printouts each week with a "weekly practice." The participant must bring to each session a Bible, a notebook and pen, which are not provided by PLW. The cost of the material is the only amount the participant needs to cover at the beginning (around $15 CAD), apart from that the Workshop has no cost. Often times, depending on the retreat center where the Desert will take place, it may become necessary that the participants give a small contribution or donation to the retreat center.

Voluntary Offering. It is important to mention that by the seventh session of the Workshop participants learn about the concept of "Offering", which consists of an opportunity to help PLW economically so that Workshops can be brought to places and countries that need this kind of help. This Offering is voluntary, and it is transferred directly to the Coordination of PLW; nothing collected stays with the Guides that teach the Workshop. It is explained to the participants that this voluntary offering is a small sacrifice in the same sense as fasting and mortification are offered in Lent.

Cost of the Workshop. The service of the Workshop has no cost at all for the participant nor the parish. However, the cost of printing the material is transferred to the participant. This means that the total cost for the Workshop a participant would pay is around $15 CAD.

Our service is temporary. The Workshop consists of its sessions, the Desert, and nothing more. By the end of the Workshop, the Guides and PLW respectfully withdraw from the parish. In the last sessions of the Workshop, participants are invited to continue, once the Workshop has concluded, in their parish groups and to find new social projects. PLW will happily return to the parish when the pastor decides he would like to host another Workshop for his parish community.

 

How to Request a Workshop

 

The easiest way to request a Workshop is by filling in the form in our Contact page. Thank you!