Beginning to A.D.O.R.E.: Day Retreats Renew Freshman Students’ Faith

Eucharistic Adoration at the end of a day at Saragossa offers students a chance to pray, kneel before Christ, and confess their sins.

EBy Thomas McManus ’20

Each Monday, one freshman homeroom enters into a new aspect of the Chaminade experience as students embark on their first religious retreat.  Together with his fellow homeroom members, every freshman participates in a daytime retreat, a tradition that began six years ago. The program, known as A.D.O.R.E., or A Day of Retreat Experience, is held in the recently constructed Saragossa retreat house.  

The students engage in an array of activities, but the bulk of the day is spent delving into the topic of having a strong relationship with God amid the pressures and stresses of high school.  This is accomplished through videos, faith talks, and discussion groups led by upperclassmen.

Senior Nic Aubry leads members of homeroom 1E in a group discussion about temptation.

Director of Campus Ministry, Mr. Michael Foley ’99, noted that the videos “address the issues that plague high school students.”

In discussion, freshmen offer their views on the temptations and sins they face and confer among themselves how best to avoid them or deal with such issues.  Members of CROSS, an organization composed of 32 upperclassmen, guide these discussions and offer advice based off their own experiences.

The most important activity during the retreat happens at the end of the day.  Everyone gathers in the chapel for Eucharistic Adoration and is given time to reflect on the messages of the day, and how best he can apply them to his life.  Students also have the immeasurably valuable opportunity to participate in the Sacrament of Confession during this time.

In addition to a chance to renew their faith lives, retreat offers students a great lunch of chicken rolls and sodas from Saragossa’s soda fountain!

These retreats are meant to be a first exposure to all of the spiritual opportunities at a student’s disposal.  Mr. Foley explained that the program serves as “a first step on a spiritual journey.”

For many of the freshmen, if not the entire class of 2021, A.D.O.R.E. either was or will be their first retreat experience, which is a special milestone.  A religious retreat is designed for the purpose of stepping back (“retreating”) from everyday life and assessing one’s spiritual life.

The implementation of the A.D.O.R.E. program arose out of the recognition that many freshmen are still just beginning their faith journeys and retreats are perhaps the most effective way to aid in their growth.  Mr. Foley recounts that a discussion over six years ago ultimately came to the conclusion that all freshmen should have a retreat experience.  Now, just a few years later, the benefits of the program are so apparent that not only have these retreats continued, but all sophomores have a day-long retreat as well.

Liam Atwell ’21 of homeroom 1A shared his thoughts on the day of his retreat.  He noted, “The most beneficial and effective part of the day was the reflection in chapel. During this time, I thought about what it meant to be a Catholic and how I could live a life more close to my faith.  I felt like I grew during it, and am definitely excited to take another retreat.”