Gena Porotsky ’19
Last week was the freshman retreat. Going into it, I knew nothing about it. The teachers wouldn’t tell us what was going to happen. They wanted us to go into it with an open mind, I guess. We got to school and, half asleep, boarded the buses to St. Ann’s convent. Right after we got off of the 45-minute-long bus ride, we entered a nice building and walked down to the end of the hall where we came to a large open room. They started to play music. All of the music was either a) inspirational or b) from the late 2000s. At first a lot of us were thinking that it was too loud, too early, and too physically draining to sing to the music and move around at all. After a couple minutes, though, most people were warmed up and kinda got the spirit of things. After about 15 or 20 minutes of music and dancing, Mrs. Becker led us in prayer and then we divided up into a couple large groups and did some short activities that just got us warmed up and energized. After that, we separated into our freshman focus groups and touched on some more serious and emotional topics.
We walked down the hall and each group of about 11 people was put in small rooms. My group’s room was about 9 feet by 9 feet. We practically had to squish together so we could all fit. Right away, one of my senior leaders pulled out a one-pound bag of Smarties and told us to each take as many as we wanted. As soon as we were all sugared up, we started to delve into some more serious topics. We started out talking about every little depressing thing that has ever happened in our lives. We were each given a big heart made out of construction paper and every time we talked about something depressing that happened in our lives, we had to rip off a piece of it. In the end, we taped our hearts back together to show that our problems can be fixed, and people can be healed. We also did journals about how close we are to God and how we can develop our relationship with Him. Then we did a group activity where we stood in a circle-ish oval-ish thing and the retreat leaders asked us questions about our faith. For example, they asked “Do you feel deeply connected to God?” and if your response was yes, you would step forward. The whole purpose of this activity was to show that you aren’t alone, and there are other people that have things in common with you.
After that we had mass in the Chapel. My favorite part of the mass was the gospel reading. Father read the parable of the good Samaritan, and some of the freshman focus leaders put on a puppet show to go along with it. I’m pretty sure everyone in the chapel was laughing at that. Right after mass ended, we got back on the buses and drove back to Mercy. By the time we got back, it was about 3:30.
I really enjoyed the freshman retreat because it gave me a chance to learn more about my new classmates that I will be spending the next four years with. It even gave me a chance to learn more about myself. This was exactly what we all needed to kick off the next four years at a new school.
Photo courtesy to Mercy’s Instagram page.