From Monday 31 October – Wednesday 2 November, students from Year 7 spent some time on spiritual retreat at the Briars.
We set off from school after a day of lessons on Monday, but this didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the group, who were full of energy as they arrived. On the first evening we all settled into the Briars. A delicious meal was enjoyed and the young people wrestled with duvets and duvet covers to make their own beds! Small groups were formed and the young people spent time getting to know each other better. The day concluded with a calming night prayer. Students settled to bed and there was some sleep amongst the chatter and fun of being away with our friends.
On Tuesday, the groups gathered for a wonderful time in prayer, led by one of the small groups. There were lots of activities both together in small groups and as a whole. We went for a walk in the area that surrounds the retreat centre. The countryside is absolutely beautiful. On our return, there was hymn practice, preparation for Mass and a wonderful celebration of All Saints Mass with Fr Paul. The young people all took on various roles in the Mass, making it a very personal and prayerful time of prayer. Fr Paul commented on how special all of the young people were and how well they participated in the Mass.
Following Mass was dinner and then time for the quiz. Teams of young people took on a range of questions and there was a great sense of community and cooperation. More excitingly, the vending machine was open – a long queue formed for treats and snacks to enjoy during the quiz. At the end of the evening, night prayer was a chance to be still and reflect on our blessings.
Wednesday morning came very quickly, bedrooms were tidied, bags were packed and beds were stripped. The morning was made up of morning prayer, small group work and a closing liturgy where each young person and teacher received affirmations from others in their group. There was something very special about seeing each person beam when they saw the words that others had used to describe their good qualities. These words will be encouragement for years to come.
One final meal and the students were on their way home again, tired but happy. Over the three days, established friendships were strengthened and new friendships were made; students learnt more about themselves and each other; the struggles of being more independent and living alongside others were met and overcome and every young person had a chance to grow in personal faith. There was a lot of delicious food eaten; lots of fun and games and many memories made. The De Lisle staff greatly enjoyed the company of the young people and themselves gained a great deal from the experience.
Mrs Jinks, Assistant Headteacher / Head of RE