Campus ministry working to improve retreat program


courtesy of becca meagher

Freshmen students and senior peer ministers participated in the freshman retreat while the fall senior retreat was cancelled.

Throughout the past several years, the attendance in BSM’s optional overnight retreats has been declining. Last year, the senior retreat was cancelled and this year both the sophomore and first senior overnight retreats had to be cancelled. Although, the second senior retreat had enough students wanting to attend.  In the upcoming years, campus ministry will be working to redesign the retreat program through working with other clubs and student surveys.

Despite Campus Ministry’s attempt to encourage more students to participate in retreats, attendance has been severely lacking. The value some students see in attending the overnight retreats has been declining.

Sophomore Tracy Renier attends several retreats through her church, but doesn’t feel that BSM’s are worthwhile. “I think that people have stopped signing up for retreats because they don’t have enough substance to them. They’re very superficial. They can be fun, but what’s the point of going on a retreat if all you do is play icebreaker games the whole time?” Renier said.

Twenty to twenty-five participants are needed in order for overnight retreats to occur as planned. “Attendance has been waning for the past few years due to the accumulating impact of a lot of factors,” Campus Minister Ms. Becca Meagher said.

Campus Ministry wishes to communicate more with students and learn what their needs are in regards to outside opportunities to connect with classmates and their own faith in order to better meet those needs. “Students in grades 9-11 will be asked to give feedback via a campus ministry survey. It’s my hope to use that information to not only improve retreats but all the programming that involves the faith journeys of our students,” Meagher said.

“[Campus Ministry is] committed to providing opportunities for all students to grow in wholeness and holiness. Our retreat program will reflect that commitment,” Meagher said.

Changes are also being made to the Link Crew program to incorporate faith. “I think [the changes] will have an impact on our day retreat program and then hopefully from a positive day retreat experience students will have a desire to seek an even more faith filled opportunity on an overnight retreat,” Meagher said.

[Campus Ministry is] committed to providing opportunities for all students to grow in wholeness and holiness. Our retreat program will reflect that commitment”

— Becca Meagher

These changes will all be made with the students’ needs and interests in mind. “There is a need to engage students in figuring out how we can best meet their desire for spiritual and community building experiences outside of the classroom,” Meagher said.

Campus Ministry will be working toward addressing this problem in the upcoming years. “The overnight retreat program is being re-designed for next year as are class day retreats. We are committed to creating meaningful retreats that touch the hearts and minds of our students and hopefully can allow them to engage in their faith in an authentic way,” Meagher said.

Despite these negative criticisms, some students who have attended the overnight retreats did so because they were looking for a way to bond with their grade and the peer ministers. “It was a really positive experience. I got to know a lot of people and upperclassmen that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise,” junior Elizabeth Kupchella, a retreat attendee, said.

The retreats offer the chance to talk about more serious topics that students may be thinking about but are too apprehensive to mention. They also provide games and fun bonding experiences among the students who take part in the retreats. “Sometimes the seniors see it as a last hurrah together,” Campus Minister Mr. Charlie Keyes said.

The retreats are also a chance to spend more time with classmates and friends in an alternate environment while simultaneously learning about one’s faith and spirituality. “I love the retreats. They have helped me branch out, meet new people, and also have an experience with God while having fun with my friends,” sophomore Lillian Galvin, retreat attendee, said.

Campus Ministry focuses on the togetherness overnight retreats create among classmates when advertising them to students. It is an opportunity to go more in-depth on the topics talked about during the day retreats. “For freshman it is an opportunity to get know other students because it is at the beginning of the year when they are still making friendships,” Keyes said.

The day retreats are obligatory while the overnights are optional. There hasn’t been a decrease in participation or attendance of the day retreats as there has been in the overnight retreats. “I think [the tenth grade day retreat] was well received, and the ninth grade day retreat went well,” Meagher said.