Year 7 pupils recently visited the Marist Centre in Manchester where they spent a full day on retreat. The trip provides an opportunity for the students to reflect on their own faith and to look more closely at their relationship with God (their religion) as well as with their peers.
Going away for a retreat in a prayerful environment offers a time for reflection and peace. The retreat is seen by the school as an integral part of the life-long faith formation of young people. The students withdraw from the ordinary activities of the school for a period of time to be with God in prayer and reflection.
The theme for the retreat was “community” and the pupils looked at how they and others contribute to their community. They engaged in a number of group based activities exploring the theme and focusing on the various communities they belong to such as school, home, local and the wider world.
“The Marist Centre offered us a very warm welcome and the programme gave us the opportunity not only to reflect upon our goals and ambitions and how our faith supports us in achieving these; but also a chance to get to know each other better,” explained Mrs Lisa Baillie, Assistant Headteacher at Saint Paul’s. “We all need the space and the silence to reflect and pray, it can help us begin to sense a deeper truth about ourselves and God, how he loves us as we are. The retreat is a spiritual exercise which provides the opportunity for our pupils to deepen their relationship with God, with others and with themselves, through reflection and prayer. The highlight was the Celebration Prayer Service at the end of the day which we all participated in, through readings, prayers, singing and drama.”
Year 7 Progress Leader, Ms Diane Keary, said: “The visit provided them with an opportunity to get to know each other better; form relationships, not only with other pupils but with their form tutor and other staff and share their skills and ideas with each other whilst having a fun time. It was fantastic to see how much the pupils enjoyed the experience; we could see that their confidence grew considerably throughout the day.”
Deputy Headteacher, Miss Tina Wilkinson, said: “The retreat experience contains a mixture of instruction, prayer, reflection, and free time and, whilst at the Marist Centre, the pupils are given an opportunity to learn about themselves, about each other and about the role that Christ can play in their lives. It gives them some important time for reflection and development and we notice the benefits including a greater maturity when the children return to school.”