FOUR PILLARS OF HOLY CROSS: FRESHMEN PARTICIPATE IN FIRST RETREAT OF THE YEAR
As part of St. Ed's commitment to educating the heart in addition to the mind, the Campus Ministry department provides retreat programs for students of all grade levels and interests. These retreats not only complement St. Ed's religion curriculum, but most importantly, they provide students with an experience to foster an appreciation for the Holy Cross values and charisms and to grow closer with each other and their faith.
This week, part of the freshman class participated in the Journey with Jesus Freshman Retreat, a daylong experience that focuses on the beginning of their journeys as Edsmen and the role that Jesus plays throughout their journey at St. Ed's. "The freshman retreat has three main goals: to give the students a positive first retreat experience that sets the stage for what retreats are like at St. Ed's, to build relationships among their peers and the upperclassmen who lead the retreat, and to reintroduce our Holy Cross four pillars in an interactive and reflective way," says Ms. Cari White, Campus Minister.
The retreat is divided into four activity blocks, each focused on one of the four Holy Cross pillars. Each block is introduced with a passage from Scripture and is wrapped up with a quote from the writings of Blessed Fr. Basil Moreau, C.S.C. The first activity block is centered around Servant Leadership. Students read the Parable of the Good Samaritan and reflect on the reading by making cards for military members or refugees. These cards are then sent as part of care packages to serving troops or Catholic Charities who give them to the refugees that come to Cleveland. Students then discuss what it means to truly serve and what their own experiences with service have been. The second activity block focuses on Excellence. Students participate in a timed relay race that involves moving small objects down a line without dropping them but only using a clothespin to pass the objects along. Afterwards, they talk about what made the experience successful and what made it challenging. "We try to focus on what it means to be excellent - that it's really all about helping others around you to be their best. You can't be excellent all on your own," says Ms. White.
The third activity block, the key focus of the retreat, is on Relationships. Students get into small groups and make a tower using only spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, but each student has his own secret role in the group (one person is the group leader, one person's goal is to sabotage the group, one person has to disagree with everything and another person has to agree with everything). When time is up, students have to observe their creations, note what worked and what didn't and talk about their distinct roles in the exercise and how different types of relationships can make life easier or harder. The next portion of the activity is a little more serious. Together, students read the poem, "The Puzzle," which talks about how we all have pieces of someone else's puzzle and when we give someone else our puzzle piece, it in turn can have the power to complete their own puzzle. This translates into how we are all messengers of God. Each student then gets his own piece of a large puzzle that will be completed over the course of the freshman retreats offered this year. In the end, each puzzle piece will have a freshman's signature on it and will complete a puzzle of this year's theme that will be framed for them to see over the course of their four years at St. Ed's. "We tell the students that this exercise signifies that their class identity isn't complete without each of their unique contributions. We ask them to think about and offer a silent prayer for those who have helped them complete the puzzles of their own lives and to think about whose puzzle they have helped complete," says Ms. White.
The final activity block of the retreat is centered around Faith. To conclude the retreat, students have the chance to talk about their experiences of faith with each other and then write a letter to themselves, reflecting on where they are now and where they want to be at the end of their high school career. Each student will then get his letter back at the end of his senior year.