Engaging retreat reinvigorates faith and spiritual development

Engaging retreat reinvigorates faith and spiritual development

On a rainy Saturday, September 23, 2023, while most high school students were still in bed, Ursuline’s Peer Ministry team members were ‘Getting Back to Basics.’ That was the theme of the Peer Ministry onsite retreat, which drew a large, dedicated group of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The goal was to grow closer to God and each other while reflecting on their essential role in peer ministry. 

 

 

In mid-August, a group of incoming peer ministers met with Ursuline’s new Campus Ministry team, comprised of faculty and staff, to brainstorm about the year ahead. The group agreed to start the school year with an inspiring retreat experience that would center on reinvigorating the Campus Ministry experience for all students.

“Our main objective was to come together as people of God, pray and reflect on the role of peer ministers, and begin to plan for the year ahead,” explains Theresa Napoli, principal. 

Upon check-in, students went to the Murphy Commons to begin the day, reflecting on how to strengthen their relationship with God and the school community. After an Opening Prayer led by Racquel Marciano ‘24 and a gospel reading by Christina Wiltz ‘25, the group heard from seniors Maeve Ryan and Lauren Campbell, who shared what led them to become peer ministers. Students then broke into small groups to discuss how they plan to contribute to the school community through Campus Ministry this year. 

 

 

Throughout the school year, peer ministers are called to present witness talks, lead group activities, and be models of faith in the school community. Juniors and seniors helped to prepare sophomores for their newfound role in planning liturgies, leading daily school-wide prayers, and planning grade-level retreats. 

English teacher Alexis Young ‘16 and science teacher Audra Parisi ‘18, part of the new Campus Ministry team, share their enthusiasm as they recall their experiences serving the school as Peer Ministers. Young points out that it’s essential for students to feel represented both physically and spiritually. “Today allowed us to hone in on what that looks like and how we can love ourselves, our community, and our God through daily interactions,” says Young. Parisi adds, “The open forum set a tone of togetherness, which helps to align the program with the mission of The Ursuline School and the spirit of Saint Angela.”

 

 

After lunch, the students participated in an engaging and informative session on the Order of the Mass, led by Deacon Paul Brisson. His straightforward approach encouraged note-taking and questions. The afternoon concluded with a family mass celebrated by the school chaplain, Monsignor Dennis P. Keane. 

 

 

Dr. Colleen Melnyk praised the students and their families, expressing gratitude for their commitment to faith and spiritual development at Ursuline. “Congratulations to the Peer Ministers who were commissioned today and will play an instrumental role in the Ursuline school community this year,” she offered. “May they continue to find God’s grace and guidance as they seek new ways to serve the Lord in the spirit of Saint Angela and the Ursuline sisters.”

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