As an alum of Mercy Academy, I can’t remember my junior retreat. I remember my senior retreat. I remember the friends I had, the Reconciliation, that night that I refused to attend because I couldn’t handle saying the sins I felt I had committed out loud. I remember seeing one of my classmates without her wig, she was going through chemotherapy. I stopped by her room and I remember the discomfort I experienced when the door opened and the laughter that ensued as I sat down on her bed with five other friends. I remember thinking the cancer hasn’t changed her a bit. I remember walking in the woods and not being able to wear that stupid little pin that you were supposed to wear when you felt strong enough to do it, it said “God don’t make junk”. I couldn’t wear it until the last day. I remember some major life changing decisions I made on that retreat with the help of God and some good friends. I don’t remember even one talk, but when I hear the songs on the radio that were played on the retreat feelings come back to me.
So, I am now a 42 year-old Theology teacher on a junior retreat. I am thinking most of these teens won’t remember any of this time. They may remember an event or possibly a secret from someone’s life they didn’t know and are shocked by but they won’t remember the majority of this entire experience. However, I do think that this experience can help them in the here and now. It can help them get to know who they are a little bit, help them to accept others a little better, help them become more compassionate, and perhaps give them time to talk to God a little more.
For some students retreats can be life changing, for others it will be forgotten as soon as it ends. Regardless, the retreat had meaning while they were here and a growth in faith they may not be able to pinpoint in the future.
Please say a prayer for my students to have a meaningful retreat.