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The Second Junior Search Retreat 2017-2018

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Brian Pham

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Members+on+the+retreat+search+around+the+landscape+both+literally+and+figuratively.
Members on the retreat search around the landscape both literally and figuratively.

Members on the retreat search around the landscape both literally and figuratively.

Members on the retreat search around the landscape both literally and figuratively.

The Junior Search Retreat is traditionally regarded as a chance for Xavier’s Juniors to sow the seeds for their futures as men and women with and for others while also forming their own identities.  Junior year is often seen as a foundation for the bridge between adolescence and adulthood. Campus Ministry describes the retreat as the following:

“As you are getting older, more is asked of you. You are more conscious of the world around you, the world in which you will grow into adulthood. You are faced with choices, and more and more you have to make those choices on your own. You are becoming your own person.  It is our hope that this retreat will help shed light on the various (and often conflicting) messages that your culture, your parents, your peers, etc., give you about what it means to be an adult. It’s a chance for us to look at obstacles in our lives and also a chance to be aware of God’s presence.”

The Second Junior Search Retreat of 2017-2018 is unique in one key aspect: it is the first all-boys Xavier retreat of its kind.  The retreat is said to be in a test-pilot program for gender-exclusive retreats for the school according to Campus Ministry. If the results are favorable, the Xavier administration will consider future all-boys or all-girls retreats.  The teachers that chaperoned this trip included Mr. Stevens, Mr. Kulevich, and Mr. Delariva.

The Junior Search Retreat takes place at the Pathfinder Ranch in Mountain Center, near Idyllwild. It is the same location where the Sophomore Arrupe Retreat is hosted as well. The retreat typically starts on a Friday before school and finishes on Saturday afternoon. Typical for Xavier retreats cell phones and other personal electronic devices are collected by the teacher and staff chaperones upon arrival on the campsite.  Providing a break from being ‘plugged in’ enabled students to relax from the distractions of the outside world, as well as more fully enjoy the environment of the retreat itself.  The retreat is intended to be a means of escape from the outside world while focusing more internally on the self. Underpinning it all is elevating the desire to connect spirituality with God.

Although the exact details of the retreat will not be divulged for this article, students provided testimonies and revealed how the retreat impacted them and deepened their self-knowledge and relationship to God. Students were further asked whether they would recommend it to a friend.

“Personally I think the Junior Search Retreat really gave me the space and time to step back and reflect. I grew a lot by participating in a series of heart to heart conversations. The open space allowed me to be open and discuss many problems that we don’t usually talk about. I would definitely recommend it to my friends.” – Hugh Sun

“Of course I would recommend it to a friend. It was a great experience throughout, especially considering the group of teachers and peers that went with me. I got to know some of the teachers on a much deeper level, and it opened up a lasting conversation. Going on the retreat really did open my eyes to a better point of view. Some of the conversations we had will definitely have a real life impact on me. It wouldn’t be fair to keep that experience locked down. Whether I knew it or not it was a wake up call I needed.” – Samuel Veliz

“I think it helps build your faith and make new friendships. The Retreat is a great place to share your own opinion.” – Braxton Tinsley

“The Junior Search Retreat was an awesome experience that I am grateful to have taken part in. My peers and I connected with God and created new friendships. I will never forget that weekend #17. I would definitely recommend it.”  – Tyler Grunnet

“I had a great time hanging out with the guys. The Junior Retreat was an amazing experience, I love the bond we created with not only the other students but the faculty as well. I would recommend this retreat to anyone who has free time because it is really worth it.”  – Brandon Sontz

The Junior Retreat was eye opening in the sense where we got to discuss topics we usually do not. It was an extremely fun time; we did lots of activities and played around. The teacher who went did a phenomenal job and ran everything smoothly. This retreat was different because it was all boys.  I liked the idea of all boys because some of the talks were less awkward. In the future I would absolutely recommend it to a friend; it’s a great time with great people in a great place.” – Jackson Castillo

I thought the Junior Search Retreat was a remarkable experience. I was blessed to be given the opportunity to attend the first only boys Junior Retreat at Xavier. The retreat helped me further strengthen friendships I already had, and also helped me open up and bond with classmates I did not know so well. Our faculty leaders elaborated on topics that I was anxious to understand and learn more about, and helped me grow as a person spiritually and emotionally. I believe that the photos Brian took while we were on the retreat perfectly depict the friendship and joy we all experienced on the Junior Search Retreat. I highly recommend this retreat to all underclassmen who are searching for answers to questions and topics they do not fully understand. This was by far the best retreat I have been apart of while at Xavier! #17 #FERDA”– Sean Babekian

The general student consensus implied that the retreat was a positive experience. Each student had a different yet equally significant experience spending time with friends or having in-depth discussions on topics not normally touched upon at school. Most retretants, if not all, would recommend the experience to a friend or fellow classmate. Finally, the retreat has been described as introspective, engaging, and eye opening for many as they come back different from an experience far away from school.

Pathfinder Lodge, where some of Xavier's retreats, including the Junior Search Retreat, are hosted.

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