Finding Identity Through Retreat
Maggie Conaway '15
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, or for the Greater Glory of God. We see this phrase everywhere. From sport uniforms to signs around the school to the heading on our paper, we know St. Ignatius founded the Jesuits on this motto, but how exactly do we become men and women with and for others? How can we learn what we need to do to change our community and find ourselves along the way? St. Ignatius of Loyola stressed that the most important form of prayer is reflection, and it was on this belief that he founded his Spiritual Exercises that include the most common and well known form: the Examen.
It is only natural, then, that St. Ignatius College Prep offers retreats throughout all four years that allow students to deepen their faith not only with God, but with themselves through reflection and prayer. Retreats start Freshman year; the Freshman retreat varies from year to year, but overall it introduces students to the idea of reflection and mediation in a safe environment in which students can begin to understand themselves and what it means to be an Ignatian.
In the following year, sophomore re- treat allows students to delve a little deeper into reflection and self-examination in a new environment by serving in the Tenderloin at St. Anthony’s Dining Hall with a day of reflection to follow. Nick Solari ’16 describes his sophomore retreat as an “eye-opening experience that helped me look at the big questions in life and strengthen my notion of justice.” Sophomore retreat gives students the basic tools to open their eyes to the community around them and question why things happen and how certain people end up in certain situations. Junior retreat builds on those outside experiences and continues with a more personal side as students explore their own identities. Adventuring on an overnight retreat, students step completely outside the walls of SI into a retreat facility in which they can reflect on who they are as people and how their prejudices and judgments of themselves and others can hinder their call to serve their community. Bray McDonnell ’15 says, “My junior retreat taught me things about myself that I couldn't learn in my religion classroom.” The retreat system concludes with Kairos, a senior re- treat filled with special surprises. These retreats allow students to step away from a hectic lifestyle and encourage students to learn about what they can do to become men and women with and for others. In the process, individuals discover their own identities along the way.
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