“Removing the masks and seeing who we really are… “
We arrived at Benedict XVI Retreat Centre at 10:00am with no real concept of what we were in for. From the beginning, we were given permission to call our teachers by their first names. This immediately indicated the retreat was going to be one of mutual respect and relationship building. We began with some games which allowed us to break the ice and feel comfortable with one another.
We were warmly welcomed by Catherine from the Benedict XVI Retreat Centre and met the team who would host us for the next couple of days. They familiarised us with the venue and all its facilities. The venue was perfect! We had the opportunity to engage in games of basketball, football, soccer and table tennis to list a few. Our retreat experience allowed us to become closer with not only our friends, but also form new friendships that would help carry us through our final two years at Marist. It was also an opportunity to tap into our faith and reflect on the significance of God in our lives. Personally, celebrating the Eucharist in the Chapel on the second night was a highlight for me.
The Chapel was very distinct in its structural design and it was clear to see that many boys were mesmerised by the detail and beauty of it all. As the retreat continued, we became increasingly confident to remove the, ‘masks’ we put on and feel comfortable to be ourselves. The analogy of the ‘mustard seed’ was extremely effective in helping us dig deep and find the gifts and talents that lie within, and go on to nurture these and use them for the common good.
The most emotional and heartfelt part of the retreat was the affirmations evening. We were given the opportunity to write affirmations to our close friends as well as to the people we had recently established bonds with. Complete strangers were now friends and we soon realised we had so much in common. We were also fortunate enough to receive letters from loved ones back home. It was extremely moving to witness and be a part of such an experience. Many boys, including myself were left with tears in their eyes. The overall experience was a real eye opener and made me truly appreciate the teachers we have, the boys we were with and the opportunity to create such wonderful memories that will certainly last a lifetime.
Greg – 1101