by Sean Keane ‘23
One of the most important principles of Chaminade High School is a fervent devotion to the Catholic faith and, especially, our Blessed Mother Mary. Students practice their faith every day, whether it is in religion class, during schoolwide Masses, or after school at CROSS, Emmaus, PREP, or one of Chaminade’s many other religious clubs.
In addition to these opportunities, Chaminade provides three places outside of school for students to practice their faith and spend time with God: the Marianist retreat houses. One is located just around the corner from Chaminade, another is on the north shore of Long Island, and the third is in Upstate New York.
“Each one of our retreat houses provide the students with a different atmosphere,” Brother Ryszard Decowski, S.M. ‘77 explains. “But they all provide the quietness that is necessary to connect with God.”
The closest retreat house to the main school building is Saragossa, located directly south of the Activity-Athletic Center.
The house is named after the city of Zaragoza in Spain. During the Christian persecutions of the French Revolution, Father William Joseph Chaminade was forced to flee France and seek refuge in Spain. He settled in the city of Zaragoza, where he would regularly go to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It was during this trying time that he strengthened his devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.
Chaminade’s Saragossa Retreat House has a small kitchen and dining room on the ground floor, a discussion and presentation room on the main floor, and a chapel above. While Saragossa is used by student organizations and alumni groups alike, it is most frequently utilized for retreats and days of recollection. These retreats are led by CROSS, a group of upperclassmen devoted to guiding younger students on the right path through prayer and discussion.
Meribah, meanwhile, is one of the two off-campus retreat houses that Chaminade shares with Kellenberg Memorial High School. It is located in Muttontown, New York, and spans fifteen acres of land.
The name “Meribah” comes from the Book of Exodus. It was at this location that Moses struck a rock and water came flowing out for the thirsty Israelites, demonstrating God’s providential love and protection of His people.
Chaminade’s Marianist brothers and priests, along with those from Kellenberg and St. Martin de Porres, make up the Province of Meribah.
Meribah retreat house has similar facilities to Saragossa, such as a kitchen, discussion room, and chapel. In addition, Meribah has bedrooms for weekend retreats. Students who go to Meribah can play pool and foosball in the basement, or take a swim in the house’s outdoor pool. There is also a forest trail where visitors can walk through a life-sized Stations of the Cross.
The Province of Meribah’s third and final retreat house is Founders Hollow. “What I do believe,” Bro. Ryszard remarks, “is that at Founders Hollow, you’re finding the creator through the created.”
With its two hundred acres in Accord, New York, Founders Hollow is fully immersed in nature. It is named in honor of Father Chaminade, the founder of the Society of Mary. It includes wide-open spaces to relax, a small lake to enjoy, and plenty of wilderness to peacefully reflect and be with God.
Founders Hollow is mostly used for weekend retreats. Emmaus, Hiking Club, and various sports teams spend weekends there to strengthen relationships with God and each other.
No matter which location they visit, it is difficult for Chaminade students to not get something out of a retreat experience. As long as you give an honest effort, you are bound to leave as a better person. A trip to any one of these retreat houses is certainly worth it—enjoy all that Saragossa, Meribah, and Founder’s Hollow have to offer!