Mrs. Karen Mahaney
Parish Catechetical Leader / Religious Education
316 Old Allerton Road, Annandale, NJ 08801
"A day with Colleen Rayner is like a day with the Holy Spirit, live in person…
As parents are sipping coffee, chit-chatting, and some considering slipping out as soon as no one is looking, Colleen walks in and in the first seconds of her opening her mouth she has smiles and “wha hoos” coming out of the audience of parents and 8th grade kids who instantly have an almost shocked look on their face that says “what am I here for again? I thought this was a boring spiritual retreat. …” Colleen is a stand up comedian for heaven on earth. She captures the audience so quickly, they are so drawn in they will do anything she tells them to—including running to her with smelly socks, cheering, clapping, chanting Bible verses, laughing, and crying, and best of all praying. Hearts are changed with just a few hours of time with Colleen. Her spirit and her faith are so transforming you can’t fight it off—your faith will be changed. You will want to share your experience with everyone you see in the next days and weeks and years after you’ve experienced her retreat. She is truly a blessing to the Body of Christ here on earth.
Running a retreat for this particular age group and their parents--that is actually impactful--is a daunting task. After the retreat, I went to the church for 10 minutes and just prayed a tearful thank you. God Bless Colleen!"
"The children have a great time, but the ones who are most affected are the parents and sponsors. Her real life examples relate to the adults; while her energy and sense of humor keeps the students attentive and wondering what is going to happen next... I have received many compliments on how wonderful a night it was – spiritual, inspiring, and fun. I would recommend Colleen to any institution that is looking for something a little different. Hold on to your hats and enjoy the experience!"
Ms. Jessica Heap
Former Coordinator of Religious Education
St. Clare Parish, Staten Island, NY
"I think it is amazing how Colleen can make you laugh so hard at one moment and make you cry just as hard a few moments later. Listening to her is like a spiritual roller coaster that brings to your heart the much need excitement of the faith that has been missing."
St. Jude Parish, Blairstown, NJ
"Colleen has assisted with our high-school retreats for the past three years. She has an incredible gift for being able to impact each and every student present at the retreat. With her fantastic sense of humor and intense love for Christ, Colleen's message is captivating and compels all of us -- students and faculty alike -- to hunger for a deeper relationship with Jesus. Our student body consists of both Catholic and non-Catholic students, yet each girl walks away with a stronger desire for prayer and a relationship with God. I can't recommend Colleen enough!"
Mrs. Nivedita Toth
Campus Minister, Religion Teacher
St. Jean Baptiste High School, Manhattan, NY
"What can I say about the awesome work of Colleen?! Imagine 96 teens in one room for a retreat. Many of our kids are very streetwise and promised they would not buy into this. Well, give Colleen 5 minutes and she has their undivided attention and even more amazing their total respect. Approaching teens with the goodness of Our Lord is an unsurmountable task. Getting them to surrender themselves to what our faith has to offer is nothing short of impossible. Colleen hit these two obstacles running (literally) to influence and affect these kids before they have time to put up their defenses. In February of this year, we had our Confirmation retreat. Many of our kids showed up with ready to be bored attitudes. Well, once Colleen gets started, I defy each and every one of them to be bored. Throughout the day, they are kept jumping and not realizing that the Lord is in their presence and is hanging out with them. What a great day. Everyone, and I mean everyone is disappointed when the retreat is complete. It rejuvenates all the catechists who are there to chaperone too."
Mrs. Barbara Aviles
Coordinator of Religious Education
St. Clement- St Michael Parish, Staten Island, NY
"Sometimes being a person of faith is not easy. Colleen helped us to 'see' with our hearts as we explored how we as teachers, could respond to our calling from God to teach His children. Her personal stories and the challenge she gave us to personal conversion has changed the dynamics in the teachers lounge and the staff meetings."
Mrs. N Rossicone
St. Clair’s Elementary School, Staten Island NY
"I don’t know what to say about Colleen, I don’t know what you call it, talk, presentation, soliloquy, filibuster, motivational speech, comedy set, pre-game pep talk, keynote address, there was quite a bit that stood out. You can critique Colleen in two ways. The first is the way she imparts knowledge of her religion and the second is how she emotes the impact her faith has had on where she is today. As an altar boy for 10 years, it should be fairly obvious that I have been around the church for many years. My 3 siblings and I are all products of a Roman Catholic education which extended through our collegiate pursuits as well. I minored in Theology at a Jesuit University, and all that that implies. I have been a Eucharistic Minister for many years and am now a parent of children in Catholic school. Despite being inculcated with my Roman Catholic faith, practicing its traditions and living its teachings, I had no idea how much I did not know until I heard Colleen speak. My mother taught me to pray the rosary, my father taught me the significance of Nocturnal Adoration and my faith taught me of the path to Christ through the Eucharist; but never before had anyone got me thinking about things differently until I heard Colleen speak. It was not so much her experiences, as fascinating as they were, that distinguished her from others I have heard through the years. It was more her perspective of those experiences. Telling her sister that their mother can be found in the Eucharist was a concept above my most contemplative thoughts. Making B.I.B.L.E. an acronym was another interpretation that heretofore I had never heard. Her energy, humor, passion, motivation, drive….I could go on with the nouns, were inspirational. I was simply floored by it. Talk about over-delivering, this was over the top in getting people to think differently. She made me see with my heart. I have not stopped talking or thinking about it since. Colleen in her own self-deprecating way elevated herself and the weight of her message. By her own admission she obtained no Theological degrees, holds no catechetical title or bears any religious distinction, but I’d put her piety up against most of the church officials I’ve met. Like Jesus, and unfortunately unlike others, she did not deign to speak to our group, but rather looked upon it as a privilege or a humble calling.
I don’t know where Farmington, Farmingdale, or Old McDonald had a Farm, New Jersey is, but wherever she’s from, her parish would be well-served to have her as a homilist. Could you see her at a youth mass having the congregation break up into small groups and giving her what she asked for in order to garner green tickets? I’m still ashamed that it was easier for me to produce 10 designer items than it was 8 religious ones. These corporal works of mercy that she provides may help to sanctify her, but they provide much needed spirituality for our youth and adults alike. Mother Teresa said, “My secret is simple, I pray.” Colleen’s secret is simple as well. She lives a faith based life imbued with the tenets of her religion with Christ at the forefront. Her infectious deportment leads by example and renders others exposed to it, to expect more of themselves. She delivered her messages from such a positive and reverent bent. Her spirituality is contagious and just like Typhoid Mary, keep her in contact with as many people as you can. If a simple mother of twins can be so influential there is hope for all of us flawed."