Exploring 'unity' at student-centered retreat

Exploring 'unity' at student-centered retreat

Church of the Holy Family in New Rochelle was the scene on Tuesday morning, November 14, to explore 'unity,' one of St. Angela's counsels. It was the first grade-level retreat of the 2023-24 school year coordinated by Ursuline's new Campus Ministry team. Ursuline seventh-graders entered the church's lower level without knowing what to expect. About eighty participants, including peer ministers and chaperones, gathered for the engaging, full-day spiritual retreat.

Weeks before, the seventh-graders completed a brief survey about the Counsels of St. Angela, which helped identify the retreat theme, unity. St. Angela, the foundress of the Company of St. Ursula (known as the Ursulines), calls us to "be united in one heart and one mind" and to respect and support each other. Lauren Campbell '24, a senior Peer Minister, put it simply, "Unity connects you to God, your faith, and each other." 

Twenty-two active peer ministers, including seniors, juniors, and sophomores, led group discussions throughout the day, describing the importance of unity and its role in creating a sense of belonging throughout the school. Senior Maeve Ryan noted, "We are all peer ministers in a sense as Ursuline girls," pointing out that we are a service-minded community. "Our goal is to do things out of the kindness of our hearts."

Sarah Brannigan '24 told the powerful story of St. Angela Merici's life. Afterward, the group had fun with a trivia-style game to reinforce St. Angela's message and encourage students to explore its relevance for themselves.

In addition to group discussions and activities, students attended mass, received the sacrament of Reconciliation, and participated in a grade-level service project to benefit Project Linus. This organization provides handmade blankets to sick or traumatized children in need. The lively group, including faculty chaperones, worked together to create beautiful fleece blankets. The hands-on learning activity unified the group in "one heart and one mind." 

As the retreat ended, students reflected on their experiences together. Zara Cusack '29 felt that mass was very nice. Attending mass together and having the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation contributes to a strong sense of unity. Brogan Woods '29, adds, "Going to confession was a big deal because it made me feel like a new person!" 

Watch a recap video with key takeaways HERE.


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