The School of Discipleship is preceded by an 8-hour long retreat that is open to all. This retreat, sometimes billed as the HSI Discipleship Retreat has been conducted in over 250 parishes in several countries around the world including the United States, Canada, England, Australia and various parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Not only has it served to transform the lives of those who have attended, it has inspired them to want to learn more about their faith and share it with others as evidenced by the huge number of people who commit themselves to life-long discipleship after the retreat is over. The retreat is led by Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI) founder Aneel Aranha (see Box: Retreat Leader).
The Discipleship Retreat covers four subjects that are fundamental to the faith—repentance, forgiveness, surrender and love—before culminating in an invitation to become or grow as a disciple of Christ. Nearly every participant present accepts this invitation by registering for the School of Discipleship.
The duration of the retreat is about 8 hours and is conducted over one full day or three evenings. When held over three evenings, each session begins with 30 minutes of worship, a talk, a period of ministry, and concludes with Holy Mass (if possible). During the time of ministry, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed (again, if possible). We recommend that priests be available to hear confessions through the retreat as this is an occasion when everybody would like to make one.
There are no charges for conducting the retreat. Most parishes take a love offering on the last day and this is, from past experience, usually enough to cover expenses. A good sound system is essential, as is pre-publicity to gather as many of the flock as possible for a life changing event (see Box: Publicity).
Worship for international retreats are sometimes led by Swapna Abraham, a world renowned worship leader and song-writer, or husband-wife duo Leslie and Sharon D’Mello. Worship for Arabic retreats are led by Joseph Khadige, known for his preaching as much as his worship. Youth retreats are led by the anointed Upper Room Band comprising Arlene and Michael Castelino, Jerson D’couth, Keegan Silveira, Larina D’Souza and Roel Shawn.
At the end of the retreat, participants are invited to join the HSI School of Discipleship. Registration Forms are given to them to be filled with their names and contact details. The School is usually launched on the day following the retreat while the retreat leader is still in town. The Registration Forms are part of the Starter Pack that is provided to you and can be locally printed like all other material.