Time Spent in Reflection is Time Well Spent
Students on retreat experience meaningful time to reflect on their purpose in service.
Retreats at SI are almost always an uplifting escape from the stress of school, extra-curriculars, and life in general. Retreats also serve as time away from a typical day to day routine and are a quiet time for reflection and peace. On retreat, students are able to reframe their thinking and expand their knowledge of themselves and others around them. This is a unique and transformative experience aimed at helping the SI student body become persons with and for others.
There are several retreat opportunities for students at SI. The freshman and sophomore retreats are mandatory, but if one wants to make retreats a regular activity, SI offers further opportunities for personal growth. Over the years, the retreat content may differ but the ultimate goal has always stayed the same.
The first-year students at SI work with the staff and guests at St. Anthony’s Foundation to better understand the diverse groups of people that call San Francisco their home. Mr. Hansen recalls, “On every retreat, I'm encouraged by the presence and engagement of the frosh participants. The St. Anthony's staff often comments on the readiness of our students to interact with guests in a very positive way.” Through this experience, the freshmen take time to step outside of what they know and expand their knowledge of the world around them. Mr. Hansen shares, “The simulation helps all of us to feel more compassion for others -- and to ask questions of justice.” The Frosh retreat is a time to broaden one’s horizons and grow in the understanding of the world outside of the SI community.
The sophomore retreat is an experience that brings students together to build a stronger connection with their classmates and allows one to find his or her true self, with the retreat’s theme being “Becoming Your Most Authentic Self.” Although retreat brings counsel and stability into one's life, the perception throughout campus differs. Two days away from home in a retreat center can be initially interpreted as a “boring experience with endless reflections and writing activities,” said Logan Mitchell ‘25. Logan speaks on her preconceived impression of the two day experience and how her idea soon changed for retreats at SI. Like Logan, many sophomores have a negative and judgmental prejudice about this retreat. However, most students leave retreats in an optimistic state. “I learned a lot about myself. My retreat leader was really helpful with trying to get the group to open up and put in the effort to make the experience great,” said Logan. Junior or Senior student leaders show leadership in making the retreat experience memorable. Sr. Sharon, a main coordinator of the Sophomore retreat, believes the retreat helps sophomores reflect on themselves as people, their interactions with others, and how they are growing as an SI student. “I think that really knowing who we are - when we are with others, and when we are on our own - is one of the most important tasks we can do as members of a community,” says Sr. Sharon.
Without this internal and interpersonal experience, SI’s community would not be as strong as it is. Both retreats are incredibly valuable and teach important life lessons to Frosh and sophomores. These retreats are pillars of a Jesuit education and all SI students walk away grateful for the unforgettable memories made.
Ava Murphy '25 and Kate O'Keefe '25 are Vol. 71 Contributing Editors