About Ray’s Retreats

Retreats provide a way of stepping back to make a space for reflection so as to come to a decision or to focus on the creative spirit and on centering one’s life to encounter peace and open up to new insights.

Possible retreats are, but not limited to a morning, afternoon, or evening reflection of about two to three hours. A retreat can be as short as a fifteen minute sermon or as long as a half day retreat, a whole day retreat or even a multiple day or weekend retreat.

Blessing Cup Retreats

The blessing cup retreat is the result of a Salesian sister’s desire to provide her parish families with a retreat for First Holy Communion. It was her desire that this retreat be centered on the themes of a loving God who helps teach us and guide us in our daily lives and who, even when we disobey him, will forgive us through the sacrament of reconciliation. In addition, God empowers us to love one another as Jesus loves us.

Through song, prayer and watching pottery being made, the children and their parents learn about reconciliation in a full-bodied way. One Child makes a pot and listens to the potter’s voice, demonstrating how we should all listen to the voice of the divine potter, God.


Furthermore, the children are empowered by the sign of the cross, a reminder of their baptism, and they in turn empower their parents and whole family with the sign of the cross. As a permanent reminder of the day of the retreat and the day to come of First Holy Communion, the children each decorate a chalice that becomes their blessing cup.

Used as a family symbol, the blessing cup can become a sign of solidarity, oneness in prayer and blessing. The blessing cup service, centered around a common cup and based on the use of Scripture and petition, can help each family member express his or her deepest feelings.

Read more: First Eucharist and the Blessing Cup

Videos: Excerpts From Various Retreats

Confirmation and Communion


Setting up your space for a retreat

The short video below shows how to set up your presentation space for one of Ray’s retreats. The size of the space needed is dependent upon the number of children and parents attending the retreat. Sometimes two spaces are used; one for the presentation and another for the pottery activity. Suitable spaces include a church, auditorium, gymnasium, classroom or other simple room.

During a blessing cup retreat the children participating draw a design on a bisqued chalice. The chalices, are then taken back to the Bostree studio where they are glazed and high-fired in a gas kiln. Once completed, these chalices can be used as blessing cups during times of family prayer and celebration for years to come. Some First Communion children have saved their blessing cup for many years until they have grown up, and then use the cup to celebrate their wedding. Many children often wonder how their cup was made before they get to draw on it at the retreat and how their cup is finished before they get it back. These two videos, created by Laura Smith with the help of Connie Rose, Andy Boswell, and Ray Boswell, show the process of how the blessing cups reach their finished form. The first video is the longer version and the second is the shorter.

Blessing Cup Pottery Retreat
Bostree Studio Demo ~ Longer Version
Bostree Studio Demo ~ Shorter Version