SENIORS REFLECT ON RELATIONSHIPS AND FAITH THROUGH HIKING RETREAT
During their final year at St. Ed's, seniors are required to attend at least one retreat of their choosing. While students can attend a retreat on their own through a youth group or their place of worship, they are also encouraged to participate in a wide variety of creative and reflective retreat experiences offered through St. Ed's. "As a whole, I love the senior retreat program because I get to create these retreats and find new ways for students to connect with God in a meaningful way either while hiking through a national park, spending a day in silence at a retreat center, or exploring the Cleveland Art Museum, reflecting on artists' abilities to capture fundamental theological ideas like truth, grace, love and hope," says Mr. Liam Haggerty '02, VP of Mission Effectiveness.
This week, a group of seniors attended a hiking retreat to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park where they completed a 5.5 mile hike and enjoyed a day of reflection outdoors. Mr. Mike Reiling, a long time member of St. Ed's Theology Department and a veteran retreat leader who retired a few years ago, along with Social Studies teacher Mr. Ken Fischer, accompanied Mr. Haggerty to lead the senior Edsmen on this hiking retreat. The senior hiking retreat began with St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun, a hymn to God the creator. This prayer reflects St. Francis's belief in the interconnectedness of all living things, referring to "brother sun" and "sister moon," and serves as an invitation to a day-long reflection for Edsmen to find and connect with God through the world He created.
"It's really great to be outside and spend the day in the park. It's really a luxury for us to have a national park right in our backyard. I think the students enjoy the chance to get out of the building for a day and to unplug from their electronic devices and their busy schedules. The opportunity for them spend time with their peers in a beautiful setting is one they all enjoy," says Mr. Haggerty.
The senior hiking retreat specifically focused on the Holy Cross Charism of Relationships, and primarily on the students' relationships with all of creation. Apart from the hike, this retreat provided students with breaks to participate in group and individual prayer and reflection. Throughout the day, students spent time reflecting on God's presence in their own lives, how God plays a part in their life journeys and how they individually trust in Divine Providence. Currently, the Campus Ministry Department will be offering one more senior hiking retreat this fall and one in the spring and hopes to offer more outdoor retreat experiences in the near future.