While the freshman class adjusts to Jesuit, they reflect on the beginning to of their high school experience and what it means to be a “man for others” through meditation, a reading of the life of Saint Ignatius, discussion, and sports. The freshman retreat is an event hosted by Jesuit to acquaint class members with each other and to build unity between them through team building activities.
Going into the freshman retreat, most students were less than excited. As Mr. Marr puts it, “I know some students arrive tired on a Saturday morning, and they don’t really know what to expect.” However, they soon changed their minds after seeing the many fun activities their counselors and big brothers had planned. More importantly, the planned spiritual exercises helped “the freshmen [get] introduced to the common vocabulary and practices of Ignation Spirituality,” said Marr.
Of the many activities throughout the day, among the most notable were a guided meditation over what it means to be a Jesuit student, an obstacle course with one partner blindfolded, discussions led by big brothers about religious habits, a basketball tournament, and a Mass. Also, this year included something brand new to the activities roster, the pilgrimage of St. Ignatius, where the group leader guided the others blindfolded around the room, where they would then read the life of St. Ignatius. The responsibility of the smoothness of the retreat and the planning goes to Mr. Marr and his team. “We have a standard format and set of activities,” noted Marr, “but we rely heavily on our junior and senior core team for the prayer service, senior speakers, themes, shirt designs.”
This year really seemed to go especially well as the freshmen were extremely pleased with the events and activities. Freshman Ben Rodenbaugh particularly enjoyed playing in the basketball tournament, his “favorite part” of the day. On the other hand, another freshman, Ricky Ponte, thought the prayer service was the best part of the retreat “because it had a lot of meaning and really set up the whole day.”
In the end, the freshman class can agree that is was valuable experience, with Mr. Marr adding, “I believe that everyone gets something unique and valuable from the retreat, though I think it’s different for each person — maybe it was a sense of belonging, a chance to meditate and be with God, the message at the prayer service or the mass, or a better understanding of themselves.”
The freshmen retreat was a step in the right direction, but Sam Stewart ’20 noted that “The freshmen aren’t all brothers yet, but as our time as high school students and young men go on, we will get there.”