April 2017: A fantastic time was had by all the students from who took part in a three day residential retreat at Savio House in Bollington, Cheshire. The retreat enabled the Year 8 students to take time out from their busy lives to reflect upon themselves, their hopes and dreams and their relationships with those around them.
The school sees the retreat 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.
Savio House is a youth retreat centre run by the Salesian order of priests. The
Salesians have a special charism for working with young people, inspired by their founder John Bosco<http://www.salesians.org.uk/salesians/saint-john-bosco.html>.
At Savio House, the young people join in fully as part of the community. They eat with the Savio team, socialise with them and spend the rest of their time together.
'Free time' is an important aspect of the retreat experience and some of the best work at Savio House is done playing air hockey, round the ping pong or pool table in the Games Room or in a quiet moment over a cup of tea and a biscuit.
The retreat started with a walk up the steep hill to white Nancy. This was a great opportunity for staff and students to get to know each other better and see stunning views.
The theme of the weekend was bridges. As part of this the team, made up of young gap year students, shared sessions about building bridges in our relationships. The Year 8 students then spent lots of time in small groups taking about their relationships and enjoying sharing with each other.
The students got involved with planning Mass and prayer times, including drama, music and art. Staff and students then experienced a really moving reconciliation service where they focused on the bridges they can build by forgiving others and seeking God’s absolution and forgiveness.
Ric Slatter, Lay Chaplain, said: “Retreat experiences like this one are an essential dimension of our Catholic school. Savio House is a place where young people can be themselves and discover who they truly are. They leave this weekend better equipped and refuelled for the academic challenges of Year 8.”
Mr Tony Billings, Executive Headteacher at Saint Paul’s, said: “The retreat experience contains a mixture of instruction, prayer, reflection, and free time and, whilst at Savio House, the students are given an opportunity to learn about themselves, about each other and about the role that Christ can play in their lives. The retreat gives them some important time for reflection and development and we notice the benefits including a greater maturity when the students return to school.”