In recent weeks, Xaverian freshmen have gone on the annual retreat to St. Patrick’s Church with their Religion classes. Led by several teachers as well as senior leaders, the retreats give the freshman the chance to step away from classes for the day to pray and reflect.
At one of the most recent retreats, the morning began with an introduction from the retreat’s leader and organizer, Mr. Tinervia, Campus Minister, and was followed by a prayer led by senior leader Amanda Summa. To have some fun before the day truly began, freshmen and seniors played a game of Head, Shoulders, Cup.
When asked about her favorite activity, Amelia Starace ’27 said, “I had the most fun while doing head shoulder cups cause it was a good ice breaker; it started the day on a good note.”
Throughout the day, there were different talks, activities, and discussions in small groups, all relating to the retreat’s overarching theme: “You were created by the God of Love.”
The parable of the Prodigal Son – a wayward son who squanders his inheritance, only to be welcomed back with open arms by his forgiving father upon his return – was the leading story of this year's set of retreats, allowing students to focus on three main lessons that are taken from the story: the simplicity of God’s love, praying with trust, and being loved by God.
Several leaders gave their own personal talks to help connect the freshmen to the true lessons of the story. Senior leader Chris DeBoer gave the second talk of the day about praying with trust, discussing his own personal experience with his father to help relate to the message of the Prodigal Son leaving his father and being unfaithful to him. Two other seniors, Gianna Samperi and Darrien Pennachio, gave talks, teaching a lesson through their own life experiences.
Student talks were followed by small group discussions to help students understand the importance of the story of the Prodigal Son. The discussions were brought to life with three main activities including pipe cleaners, play-doh, puzzles and sand. With these supplies, students were told to create something that they learned from the story. One freshman created a heart out of pipe cleaner and a calf out of play-doh to represent the father’s love for his son. Another bended their pipe cleaners into an infinity symbol to represent a parents infinite love for their child.
The second activity was an activity in trust that came after the second talk of the day. The freshmen broke into pairs with one being blindfolded and the other setting up the pieces for a puzzle. The person not blindfolded had to lead the other to complete the puzzle within the allotted 10 minutes.
The third and final activity of the day came right before everyone loaded back on the buses. Every person, including leaders and teachers, were given a small container of different colored sand. Each group remained prayerful as they walked up and poured their sand into a mason jar. This activity showed the freshmen how when everyone comes together, they are beautiful.
“I thought it was nice how we came together to build one, very pretty thing,” said Senior Retreat Leader, Julia McLoughlin.
The day ended with recess, consisting of basketball games, animated conversations, and lunch. The last activity tied together everything that was done over the course of the day, which many students reported to be extremely meaningful.
The next set of freshman retreats will be on October 19th, 24th, and 27th. Senior leaders are still needed for some retreats. Students should contact the school’s campus ministers if they are interested in being a leader.