The theme of our Year 12 Retreat, was “journey”, and gave us the opportunity to stop and reflect as a year group on the journey we have collectively experienced so far. We had been looking forward to getting away from the stress of Year 12 and an eleven week term, understanding the value of being given this time to bond and strengthen our relationships with each other.
After arriving by bus at the Edmund Rice Center in Mulgoa, Ms Stojanovski and Ms Gange welcomed us to our retreat. The ice breakers that started our retreat experience revealed our cohort’s competitive streak. This was followed by an introduction to the importance of retreat as a significant aspect of our lives and faith. The small group sessions led by the teacher facilitators, helped us form new relationships and peel away our layers to reveal more of ourselves. We shared the significance of the sacred retreat item we had brought, and then used these to create our sacred space which gave us a sense of ownership over our retreat experience.
Miss Gange then gave a powerful testimony about her own life journey, sharing the key events and people who have shaped her faith. This prompted us to reflect on our past, which linked to our next experience of being embarrassed by baby photos, before moving on to refining our skills in active listening. Mrs D’Arcy organised a speed dating activity through which we participated in conversations with peers we don’t always get to chat to, prompting shared opinions and understanding. After dinner, the real competition began in the form of a trivia night, and Ms Morgan later performed a peaceful meditation.
After being woken up by the teachers and playing an intense game of balloon and string, we were reminded of our capacity to have a positive impact on the people around us as Ms Gange inspired us to cultivate a culture of affirmations. Ms Stojanovski then shared her personal faith journey, allowing us to reflect on our own, and reminding us that it’s ok to experience adversity, and that faith might be the missing piece in our lives. This was further represented through a jigsaw puzzle game, which illustrated that God can complete the puzzle that is our lives.
Ms Symons took us on a journey of four generations of women in her family, conveying the first love we all experienced between parent and child. This connection was further expressed through messages received from our family, affirmations of how proud they are of us. Later that evening, we were blessed with the presence of our Parish Priest, Father Jim McKeon, who helped us celebrate Mass. Filled with symbols our class had chosen to represent ourselves, this ceremony was an emotional experience with the community we have come to belong to as Mercy girls. The bedtime story Ms Kavanagh read to us following the Mass, Dr Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go, gave us a sense of gentle reassurance during this uncertain transitory period. Ms Kavanagh’s words offered confidence that we were prepared to take our place in the wider community, our values having been shaped by our experiences at Mercy. On the final day, we looked towards the life beyond the HSC, reflecting on the future we hope to create for ourselves.
Retreat was a time to cherish the memories we have created at Mercy, and prepare ourselves for the challenging, but exciting times ahead. All of Year 12 are incredibly grateful to the teachers who accompanied us and gave up their time to lead us in this wonderful experience.
Sarah B – College Captain