”Families with Christ” offers retreats to married couples and families with a duration of one to ten days in which spiritual processes are initiated and accompanied. Everyone is addressed according to their age: Crawling group, kindergarten, primary school, older school children and adults. Up to 65 persons per course take part.
Family weeks have topics like "Experiencing God in marriage", "Recognising the leadership of God in the family", "Living as family with the Bible", "Ways of Christian education", "Meeting Jesus in his own country as family" (thirteen-day journey to Israel for families). In "Ora et labora weeks" (pray and work) the participants actually take part in manual tasks, housekeeping and gardening chores during the morning. In the afternoon there is leisure time and the evening is reserved for spiritual programs.
Weekends for married couples are offered, with themes like ”healthy person -healthy marriage" or "Sexuality in marriage". Family weekends deal with father-son relationships and family policy. A "parents school" entails courses of 30 days in six blocks over a period of two years.
The cover sheet of each annual program declares programmatically: ”Every renewed marriage is a contribution to a renewed society.”
Within the scope of the ten-day-courses the personal renewal of the sacraments has its firm place. The possibility to renew one's baptismal vows and confirmation commitment is offered within an Eucharistic celebration. There is as well the opportunity to reaffirm the matrimonial bond with a new intensified “yes”. "I confirm the matrimonial bond with you. I take you anew as my wife/my husband and promise you faithfulness ..." To renew the concrete decision for each other in freedom in front of the congregation acts as stabilising factor for the relationship with God as well as for the lay-out of their married life. A central point in Heiligenbrunn is offering assistance in living the faith. Life is interpreted by the Gospel inspiration. The goal is renewal of the church through a renewal of both marriage and life as a single person.
Further details about the renewal of the sacraments and blessing of singles and married couples in German language in the articles "Segnungsgottesdienst" and "Trauungssegen", and about working methods under "Elemente".
When the boarding school, the school and the cloister in Heiligenbrunn were closed down in 1986, the owner looked for a new tenant. At the same time the initiative ”Families with Christ” which had offered retreats for families in nine dioceses in Germany and Austria since 1985 was looking for a building for such courses. The history of the place encouraged ”Families with Christ” to choose Heiligenbrunn.
In 1662 a person who suffered from the inability to talk drank out of the same well which still flows today and through the intercession of Mary a first healing occurred and the person was able to speak. Today married couples need the ability to speak with each other. In the retreats and courses of the family centre time is given to dialogue in marriage; biblical teaching is offered as well as sacramental reconciliation; and church is experienced as a living faith community.
Numerous votive tablets in the chapel show that in the course of the following 300 years healings happened repeatedly. Today many married couples also experience the "miracle of healing" in Heiligenbrunn. Here vacation can become a "family workshop", a chance for a new beginning, so that family life becomes even more beautiful.
In 1989 ”Family with Christ” received official recognition as a church community. In 1990 the bishop of Regensburg, Manfred Müller inaugurated the family centre.
More information in German language under the heading: "Geschichte".
The participating married couples and families come from the entire German speaking area.
So far guests from 35 different dioceses between Luxembourg and Vienna, between the North Sea and South Tyrol and from Poland and Hungary came to Heiligenbrunn.. As ”Families with Christ” is the only spiritual family centre in the Roman Catholic Church in the German speaking area, the catchment area is very large. The participants are often highly motivated, as the long journeys of up to 950 km show. Many are members of the new spiritual movements such as Cursillo, Equipes Notre-Dame, Marriage Encounter, Emmanuel, Schönstatt, or Charismatic Renewal and most of them are active in their own parishes. The age of the adult participants is in the majority between 30 and 45 years. It is an encouragement to go on vacation together with numerous other large families; looking at the own process of marriage together with young married- as well as with advanced married couples. Here one can develop hope and confidence for the religious socialisation of the children and youths. A passion for God and a sensibility for religious experiences is a binding force between the parents.
Further information in German language under the heading: "Familienwerkstatt".
The majority of the family centre staff work in an honorary capacity. They donate their weekend time or even part of their annual vacation to the welfare of the participants with the aim of building a living church. Some are qualified by their profession such as religious education teacher or marriage guidance counsellor, while others have trained and proven themselves through long-standing voluntary practice in their parishes or dioceses. Deep relationships develop and Christian community happens amongst these one hundred plus staff members: a lively community of God seekers, bonded in apostolic service. Thanks to the volunteers and the support through donations the daily cost can be kept extremely low.
Some of these volunteers have joined together in a committed community. The members of the community have found a personal, joyful and decisive relationship with Jesus Christ and in that learned the strength and instruction to organise marriage and family. They are in connection with each other in spiritual and inter-human exchange and in the common service for families. They orient themselves by agreed upon rules that they have experienced as help towards a more fulfilled Christian life. They pray for families as cells of spiritual life. This community belongs to the new spiritual movements. It is organised overdiocesan and is in the meantime represented in ten dioceses.
The co-ordinator of the community is Franz-Adolf Kleinrahm. He has been married to Angelika since 1973, has four children, and has been a permanent deacon since 1987.
Further information in German under the heading: "Gemeinschaft".
The page "Photos" gives an impression about our work without words through numerous photographs.