Stories & Testimonials

FAMILY WEEKENDS – for more years than I can remember Discovery Phase III Family Retreats would happen at Discovery House. They only do them in the Summer months because it was an enriching weekend for Families to strengthen and heal their relationship with God and each other. I went on one of the last Families weekends to be done at the House in 1999 with my children and although I went on as a youth leader as a team leader in my youth it was an enriching and wonderful experience with my family. There is now a new commitment for Family Weekends to Happen at Discovery House! Come JOIN THEM! You will not regret it. The weekend is for Families of every age, backgrounds and size, not just growing families! Miracles Happen! On these retreats!

– Brenda C Hager
June 2014

Wow! I share the same sentiments as George and believe I was on 117…do you remember me George or Michael Genovese or a girl named Nettie?Mary Jo Cotilla

– Mary Jo
April 2014

I am not nearly so birnay. I work when I am inspired; when the spirit moves me; when the seed cracks working in that environment, no matter the day or time, leaves me energized and refreshed, while working without those elements in place tends to be a huge waste of time and leaves me exhausted and empty.

– Daniela
November 2012

I recently was online and was flabergasted to find the Discovery Ministry still active and providing support to those in need. This comes at a time in my life of a resurgance of sorts

It was possibly in 1984 in Mullica, New Jersey. I am almost certain it was on weekend #117 where at a very tumultuous period in my life that I discovered salvation for many of my woes.

Once again I find myself making an attempt to discover myself at a crossroads in my life at an older age. Several photos of the “original” Discovery House were sent to me and it brought it all back again.

I met many wonderful people on the weekend including Father Vic, Nick Bozza, Brenda Hager, Ernie Jewel, Neal Petti, Mike Nolan and so many names that escape me at present.

The world has changed so much since I was young, it warms my heart to see that this is one of those rare and wonderful institutions that contine to thrive and prosper. I wish all the best to everyone involved making this a lasting impression for positive influences.

George Ross
January 2012


All I can do is echo the testimonies already given. And “wow” is the first thing that came to mind in finding this ministry (again!) and in describing my time in the Discovery Program way back when. My first weekend was #20 at the shore (1976???) and I teamed two more after that at the house in Hammonton (my memory has faded along with my hair and I don’t recall what number they were). I even got to help with refurbishing the original Hammonton house in the late 70’s, so I am doubly-blessed!

For a kid who was in constant trouble, my parents saw Discovery as a possible “cure.” I don’t know if I was cured, but I was changed in a way that can only be described as a miracle. On a weekend I went to go meet girls, I found God instead.

I went to college to become an Episcopal priest – in large part because of the impact of Discovery. I left college and was trained as a paramedic where I worked in Camden until 1985 when I became a police officer in Medford – the same town where I was in constant trouble as a kid!

Fast forward a few decades and I’m now the youth minister at the Protestant Community Church (“Cathedral of the Woods”) in Medford Lakes. I work with kids and I hope I am giving back a little bit to the community where I took so much…

And it all started with a weekend in October, at a house in Long Beach Island, surrounded by people I didn’t know and never met. And I was changed.

My heart was filled with joy when I found this website. Joy in knowing this program is continuing and joy in knowing it will impact young people for years to come.

May God continue to bless all of you in this ministry.
– Rusty Williams
January 2012

I attended Discovery in April 1976 at the Jersey Shore and it was a remarkable experience for a girl of 15. I attended or teamed several other Phase I and II weekends up through college. I’ve also had the great pleasure to reconnect with my small-group leader from that first weekend, thanks to the internet – I never forgot him, and we have become good friends. Thank you, Fr. Mike Mannion, for those opportunities and blessings!

– Dee Lynch
May 2011

Dolly and I were introduced to Discovery by our closest friend, Father Vic (Butler). The year was about 1978 and our first weekend was 51. Many weekends later (as well as many years later), we were still involved with the Discovery Weekends. Our lat weekend was somewhere in the 200’s and was, as were all the weekends, simply, life changing experiences, not only for the participants on the weekend, but, for Dolly and I.
Today, over 30 years later, young people then, who are now in their 50’s, still remember Dolly and me. It is a great tribute to the organization and to everyone involved, that so much joy and goodness has come forth from Discovery. So many marriages, religious, and just good people evolved from Discovery Weekends.
My one hangup is not understanding why Betty, to this day, hasn’t gotten it.
I thank Mike, Frank, Vic, Bober, Mark, all those religious and lay people who were there 30 or so years ago, as well as those who carry on today.those that have come after and still continue in GOD’s work.

– Lou Petti
March 2011

My very first retreat weekending was Discovery 54 it was Ernie and Beatty Jewels guest couple weekend with Father Vic Butler. I was a freshman in high school. I see alot of new names on the Boards and some dear old ones as well.

It is now 31 years later and even though I have not been involveld with Discovery Ministires direcetly. I continue to take what I have learned from the many lives that have touched mine to touch others. I got lost for a while but it was the foundation that Discovery and my parents nurtured in me that helped be to become the person I am today. Thank you.

I am proud to see the Ministry continuing to grow and reach out to serve the needs of Gods people.

I look forward to the rededication of the building.

God Bless

Brenda C Hager

– Brenda Hager
February 2011

Wow! It’s been roughly thirty-five years since my initiation into the “Discovery Family” and just hearing the name brings it all back like it was yesterday.

A pimply-faced, newbie in a new school and state (I grew up in philly) I was not exactly taking the Garden-State by storm. But that all soon changed after getting my first job as a busboy after school and being introduced to Discovery. I’d like to say that it was some sort of great desire to strengthen my faith that led me to this program, but, in reality I would have followed those waitresses anywhere they asked. Fortunately for me, they asked me to join them on a weekend and it was a life-changing event.

Discovery #28.(I can’t remember the exact year) It was held at the old Barnagate Lighthouse and it was absolutely gorgeous! We slept in beautiful rooms and as on all weekends, the food was nonstop and delicious. but the best parts were sitting on the pull out beds in the actual tower and spending early Sat/Sun mornings on the small private beach area just behind the lighthouse with a few already close friends. It was also there that I met Joe Tacconnelli. who became one of my closest lifetime friends until his untimely passing way to young. This is, I believe, the core of what the program offers, friendships built on the strength of a shared faith and I for one am eternally grateful.

I continued on with the program doing Phase I and II, and finally went on to team. It was on my first teaming weekend that I met an extremely interesting, unique, and spell-binding young woman with such a fresh outlook on life that I couldn’t quite get her off my mind. It also didn’t hurt that she was the cutest girl I’d ever met. We had our first conversation early-on in the weekend sitting on the stone-slab in front of the fireplace. We had our last conversation late last night after a quiet evening at home. We’ve been married 23 years and raised two wonderful children who were fortunate enough to be second-generation Discovery participants both in the family retreat and as individuals.

Discovery to me is and always will be “Family”. The majority of our closest friends to this day are fellow participants that we met through the program along the way. I have incredibly happy memories of Prayer Meetings at the Scout and Stover homes, monthly renewals and countless program events. I was there when the house was first being restored, and distinctly remember spending more than one Saturday afternoon helping with the roof and other final touches on the back porch. I still feel proud, on the rare occasions I get to see the house, that the porch is still standing…lol. It was incredible to see what this small community was able to accomplish. With an unbelievable compassionate and indomitable spiritual visionary like Father Mike spearheading the way, entire families worked together to build what still serves as a strong beacon of hope for today’s children.

I wish I could share every inspiring experience and mention each and every one of the wonderful friends that have made Discovery the memory it is for me. But the sheer numbers (and the fact that I some-days can’t even remember my own make that impossible…But know this for sure. Your faces and your friendships will never fade from my mind.

May God’s grace continue in all your lives and may He continue to bless this extraordinary program!

Keep The Faith.

– Bob Feeney
August 2010