Campus Ministry Retreats – “I Have Called You Friends”
By Christine French, Campus Minister
Continuing on the success from last year’s spiritual retreats, Skutt Catholic once again hosted differentiated retreats for students in grades 10 – 12 on September 22. Since it is so important for our seniors to have time together as a class, we will also have a special senior morning of reflection on October 13. Our traditional freshman retreat is scheduled for November 8.
At Skutt Catholic we know that faith is a journey and we are all at different places. Differentiated retreats help us meet everyone where they are and walk them one step closer to Jesus.
Even though each retreat has its own distinct theme, this year we tied in the verse from John 15:15, “I have called you friends” with many of the retreats. This phrase is the theme for the Theology and Campus Ministry department for the year. Our retreats were opportunities to grow in friendship with one another and with the Lord.
Students participated in a questionnaire to gage where they were in their personal faith journey. They were also explicitly asked which program they felt was the best fit for their retreat day. Most students were placed in their top choice.
The following programs were offered this year:
- Beauty – This retreat was geared toward students who are interested in art, music, writing, and other forms of art. Students went to Joslyn Art Museum for most of the day and also used the SC art studios to create art and listen to artists share about their lives and work. Half of the students did theater activities with SC alumna Sarah Schrader ‘17, who just got done with her starring role at the Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of “Dear Jack, Dear Louise.”
- Encounter – The Encounter retreat was eared toward students who are open to faith but want to engage in a lot of sports and activities. Students heard adults witness to encounters they have had with God, learned to listen to the Lord in adoration, and participated in lots of team-building activities, games, and low ropes elements. Fr. Taylor Leffler was assisted by a large team of teachers, a handful of alumni, and several parents and community volunteers during this retreat.
- Equip – This retreat was geared toward students who are very active in their faith life and discipleship with the Lord. Students went to the Cloisters on the Platte for a morning with adoration, conferences, confession, Mass, and silent prayer, followed by an afternoon of faith discussions, time to walk the beautiful grounds, and a chance to see their stunning Stations of the Cross. This retreat was led by the vocation director of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Fr. Andrew Roza.
- Justice – The Justice retreat was geared toward students who enjoy service. Students had a mini-service trip/ cultural immersion with the team from Abide – Omaha, a Christian organization in North Omaha that provides a holistic approach, focusing on developing stronger families, safer neighborhoods, and emerging leaders. Students helped clean up a Lighthouse site and prepare for an upcoming food pantry distribution. The group ended their day with adoration in nearby Holy Name Church with Fr. Carl Zoucha.
- Power – Geared toward students who are interested in their faith and seeking God. Students went to the Ablaze House of Worship in Springfield for small group time, Bible study on the Gospel of the day, praise and worship music, Mass, confession, and fun time with other classmates. This retreat was primarily led by local youth ministers and mentors in our discipleship program. Fr. Benjamin Boyd was with them all day sharing his witness and offering reflections.
- Virtue – Geared toward students who are interested in sports and activities, focusing on human formation in the virtues and “stomping out” vices. Students were at Pro Sanctity Retreat Center participating in team-building activities with many teachers. Two of the priests on our team, Fr. Augustine Gama and Fr. Padraic Stack, even led teams of students in a soccer match before sharing some of their stories with the students.
MAKING IT HAPPEN
We had the help of over 80 leaders, including some teachers and staff as well as college leaders, mentors in our discipleship program, parish leaders, and parents. Our leaders are incredible – they love Jesus and desire for others to grow in faith. We relied on the strength of many leaders in the community to facilitate six simultaneous programs.
Yet again, we are gathering feedback from leaders and students on how to improve the experiences. What we know for sure is that we are going to keep listening to God and to those helping to determine the best possible way to reach all students and try to inspire everyone to grow in faith. If you are interested in learning more about this day of retreat or helping in future efforts please reach out to Christine French at firstname.lastname@example.org.