Upper Figures Retreat, 10th March 2020
Retreats are a special time at St John’s Beaumont School, where we gather as a family in our year group to get closer to one another and to reflect on how we are part of something greater.
The focus of our Upper Figures retreat this year was relationships. Our relationship with ourselves, others, God and the world. We began the retreat in a reflective and prayerful manner in the chapel. Every boy and member of staff had time to think about what they wanted to achieve by the end of the day. These thoughts and feelings were then offered up and everyone expressed in one word what they hoped to feel or experience by the end of our retreat together. Boys hoped to feel a sense of ‘calm, love, community, friendship, and peace’ which was definitely felt by the end of the day.
Our retreat was a whole day of prayer, but prayer in different ways. A candle was lit from the beginning of our retreat, a symbol that even when fun activities were occurring, it was still in a reflective manner.
The boys reflected on themselves and their relationships with others through the marshmallow challenge and a letter-writing activity. This led to the next activity on, how God sees our value and worth, even when we may think negatively of ourselves and focus on our flaws.
The year 2020 in the Catholic Church is the year of ‘The God who Speaks’ and so, in our retreat, we reflected on how God speaks to us individually through scripture. Boys had the opportunity to read biblical quotes and contemplate how God was speaking to them through the passage. It was wonderful to see the boys and staff taking some time to really ponder on God’s word and then creatively produce the ‘I AM’ plaques with their thoughts and feelings.
Our retreat ended with a special focus on Pope Francis’ message in ‘Laudato Si’ and our responsibility to our common home, ‘We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long before showing itself in our relationship with other people’ LS 92. We linked this in with Lent and talked about how we can be productive during this time of prayer and action by living a Laudato Si Lent.
In order to bring our retreat to a close, we gathered together around the fire pit on the gravel and symbolically burnt the letters we wrote to ourselves at the beginning of the retreat with our thoughts of negativity. It was a poignant moment, one that the boys will hopefully remember in years to come.
Kamila Katnik, Chaplain at St John’s Beaumont Preparatory School
Some personal thoughts from the boys after the retreat,
‘I felt relaxed after. The word I said was relaxed when I lit the candle. Mrs Katnik helped me achieve this.’
‘It really let me come to terms with myself and think about me. It was very creative’
‘I found this retreat awesome and fun’
‘You could have your own thoughts and after exams it is nice to kind of be free’
‘I liked that we were able to take time out of our schedules to just reflect’