Best of the Week 2020-2021: Holy Cross Values

ST. ED'S HOSTS IN-HOUSE RETREAT EXPERIENCE CENTERED AROUND THE FOUR PILLARS FOR FRESHMAN CLASS

The Campus Ministry and Theology departments created an in-house retreat for the freshman class to experience four different sessions throughout the week that focus on the four pillars of our St. Ed's mission. "We knew going into this new year that the way we typically run retreats would be different due to safety concerns and the issues that arise with transporting students and having ample space to socially distance," says Campus Minister Cari White. "Knowing that many of our retreat activities would also have to change, we took on the opportunity to revamp our retreats in a whole new way." With collaboration from Theology teachers John Barrett '11 and Patrick Chrosniak '02, a new retreat format was created with the intention of helping students slow down and take time for themselves to relax and reflect amongst a chaotic time. With more time allotted for prayer rather than energetic group activities, the freshman retreat allowed students the time to devote toward meditation, reflection, and journaling. "Many students commented on how they appreciated the time to pause and take a step back to reflect on what has been going on in the world and around them in their own personal lives," says Ms. White. "Being intentional about our focus on reflection was a nice addition to this retreat experience that I think we'll seriously consider keeping for future retreats. I think our sophomore, junior and senior classes will really benefit and appreciate these retreat reflections as well." "This was a genuine opportunity for students to reconnect with the pillars of St. Ed's mission and provide an inviting space for students to reconnect with themselves," says Mr. Barrett. "We read a few excerpts from Fr. Greg Boyle's book 'Tattoos on the Heart.' In the introduction to his book, Fr. Boyle discusses how he envisions his ministry as an opportunity for everyday humans - especially the downtrodden, the overlooked, and the weary - to return to themselves. Students took this week to step away from the busy events that tread them down; the places they've been overlooked; and the many different tasks that make them weary and return to themselves. In doing so, they become more like the people God had in mind when God created us." "This year's retreat was definitely a different experience, but it was a fun challenge to try some new things and new ways of approaching it," says Mr. Chrosniak. "One of my favorite things was hearing from faculty members right after the first day of the retreat, saying that the students were talking about the freshman retreat in such a positive way. That was a nice boost of confidence to know that we were meeting the guys where they're at in life."

Student ministers also played a big part in the impact of this year's freshman retreat. Stepping up to lead retreat sessions, reflections and prayer, and large group discussions helped student ministers connect and interact with the freshman class. "Given the circumstances, I think this year's freshman retreat was a big success," says Ms. White. "Our Theology teachers really embraced the St. Ed's mission and were dedicated to giving our students a memorable retreat experience and making it a priority for our students."

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