Arriving at the Solomon Conference Center on Sunday, September 24, some 50-plus Brother Martin seniors began their class retreat, relaxing in spirit as they settled in for the afternoon.
The crosses they received not only reminded them of the suffering Christ endured to expiate our sins but also of the glory of His Resurrection which promised for us a felicitous place in paradise.
The retreat offered guided talks — given by faculty and friends which illustrated the necessary steps on the road to manhood. Everyone agreed that the timing was right, and the message — relevant. Then the large group broke up into smaller sessions which engaged in deeper discussion.
The conference center was an ideal setting, the environment so peaceful and serene with rays of fading twilight bouncing off a quiescent lake and pine trees arching to a golden sky. At night before the fire, vibrant stars sparkled in the heavens.
By Monday morning, talks resumed but with the presentation of strong images of male role models and the need for silence in our life. The message was simple: Forget the troubles of the real world, discard the hypnotic presence of the cell phone, and listen to the stillness of the natural world.
Here, everyone had an opportunity to feel God’s presence in nature before we loaded the school bus and headed for home. These two days offered a transforming experience for everyone.
“If retreats were easy, they would be unsuccessful, because a good retreat challenges the retreat-goer. The weekend senior retreat did just that.
It challenged students to recognize the times in which they have missed out on being the young men they are called to be. Often, we become distracted with ourselves and fail to be a help to others or let people know what they mean to us. Central figures used to convey this idea were our parents and male mentors. It is not often easy to address the times when we could improve, but it is important if we are to grow into responsible male adults
Retreats in the past have done a good job of getting us to look inside of ourselves to analyze our faith lives and any of our other needs in life. However, as we near adulthood, this becomes less important, so the focus must turn to others. One item that the retreat taught was that success in our lives depends on how we affect the world around us. Another difficult, but vital realization.
While most students are obsessed with knowing exactly what the plan of the day is and being in control of the events going on during the day, retreats should be approached differently. In order to get the most out of the senior retreat, one must be open and go along with whatever the faculty has planned. Similarly, in trying to control every moment of our lives, we get caught up in the material aspects of life and never let our mind and spirit roam.
Lastly, by opening our eyes to the reality of our future and our relationships with the people close to us, the retreat caused students not only to appreciate the adult mentors in our lives, but also to return home with a mission: to strengthen that bond with our father or any other male mentor. While the weekend may come to an end, our adult life is just beginning for we must carry that mission of growth and renewal. Let the lessons learned on this retreat nourish and grow inside of us forever.”
—– By Nicholas Russo