Building the Kingdom through retreats
May 5, 2016
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Campus Ministry, all school Mass, and retreats are iconic elements of a Catholic school. With several options like retreats that act as opportunities for students to grow spiritually, Cathedral Catholic High School fosters students’ relationships with God and their peers. Offering a chance for students to grow in their faith through several retreats throughout the year, the retreat program shaped many students lives in their four years at this school.
“I think the most important thing about retreats is bonding with your class and growing in one’s faith,” Retreat Campus Minister Rachel Bohan ‘16 said. “It’s a great time to make new friendships and strengthen old ones.”
Students repeat the community prayer every Friday, which emphasizes the unity of the school and Catholics as we continue to build community. Each line serves as a basis theme for the class’ retreats. While the retreat enhances the call behind each line, students should live the lines out every day.
A retreat is a moment that can change a person’s life. People should take that moment and use it as a starting point instead of making it just a once loved memory.
The Campus Ministry Retreat class puts on the various retreats for the students. While most of the retreats have a similar structure, each retreat differs based on the students who run it. The Campus Ministers add their personal touch to the retreats. Retreat Campus Ministers plan the games, talks, small groups, and other elements of the retreat.
“I wanted to be a part of Campus Ministry Retreat because I had experience help leading retreats at my youth group,” Campus Minister Devany Harrell ‘16 said. “I love sharing my faith with others, and I wanted to be able to help others.”
Freshman and sophomore retreats are mandatory day retreats held at school. Towards the beginning of the year, the freshman retreat serves as an opportunity for freshman to bond and get to know some of their classmates. The sophomore retreat divides boys and girls, and students can form a brotherhood or sisterhood bond with their peers.
“At freshman retreat, I did not know anyone, so it was awkward at first,” Mariano Sanfilippo ‘16 said. “But in the end, I was able to know more people in my class.”
Retreats serve as a way for students to grow together with each other. While uncomfortable at first, retreats challenge students in various ways.
The mandatory day retreat benefits many students who want to attend a retreat but have extracurriculars in the way. While most students prefer the overnight retreats, freshman and sophomore retreats help introduce students to the retreat program.
“I decided to go on retreat because I needed a break,” Abby Schlehuber ‘16 said. “The opportunity presented itself, so I took it.”
Not everyone can have the opportunity to take a break to go on an overnight retreat due to a busy schedule. However, the optional overnight junior and senior retreats benefit many students and serve as a favorite event among them.
Because the junior and senior retreats were longer, students were able to build stronger relationships, which further enhanced their experiences.
“Junior retreat was really good because it was more in depth,” Pia Asuncion ’16 said.
Junior and senior retreat were also held off campus. Since the retreat was optional, mostly people who were open and wanted to go on retreat attended it.
“For junior retreat, it helps that it is off-campus and away from everything,” Ashley Knepler ’16 said.
Students can focus more on other events and current relationships when they are away from the world’s distractions. During the longer overnight retreats, students are also more willing to open up, and the overall atmosphere formed among them feels safe.
“On junior retreat, I thought that everyone I did not know opened up,” Knepler said. “I felt that I was in a completely safe zone.”
Junior retreat helped prepare students for senior retreat. For many seniors, the retreats served as one of their highlighted experiences at the school. Attending senior retreat finalizes the CCHS retreat experience for the current seniors.
“Senior retreat was my favorite one because we did a lot of fun activities,” Schlehuber said. “It was our last retreat, and it added a level of nostalgia, making it the best one.”
Senior retreat served as a last hoorah for many of the seniors. The opportunity allowed them to build the kingdom together one more time on retreat. Most students benefited from the entire retreat program in some way.
“My favorite retreat to attend and run was senior retreat because of the community feel and the great last moments with my classmates,” Bohan said. “It was good to tie up loose ends and fix broken friendships.”
Next year with new campus ministers and some changes in the campus ministry programs, the retreat programs might be slightly different. However, even with the changes, the retreats will still continue to shape students’ lives.
“I wouldn’t change the retreat program at all,” Bohan said. “I think it is perfect just the way it is. It is my favorite part of senior year, and one the best experiences of my life!”