“Jesus Christ, the Reason for Catholic Central”
This message adorns the entrance to Catholic Central and is at the heart of who we are and what we do. One of the ways that Catholic Central helps to share this message and bring them to our students is through our student retreats.
Normally, students will go with members of their homeroom and attend a one-day retreat off-campus at St. Paul of the Cross in Detroit. Or, they will elect to attend a 4 day, three night Kairos Retreat. These options, though, were not going to be possible for all of our students. We have had a number of students decide to attend school this year virtually, known as our Le@d (live education at a distance) program, rather than in-person.
“For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
Our campus minister, Mr. Kevin Walters, knew we needed to provide the same dynamic experience of our in-person retreats to our Le@d students. He worked with our Technology Integrationist and Le@d Director, Mr. Craig McMichael ‘01, to come up with a plan and organize our virtual retreats.
Google Meet provided the virtual meeting place for our students. The students were familiar with Google Meet from their virtual class meetings during the school year. Google Meet provided a number of features to allow us to personalize the experience.
Virtual Meetings: This year we have had anywhere between 20 and 40 students attend one of our virtual retreats. Google Meet allowed us all to gather, reflect, and discuss in a single space.
Breakout Rooms: After each video, students were broken up into smaller groups of four or five to reflect and discuss what they just saw. Unlike a normal in-person retreat, we could have seniors, juniors, sophomores, and/or freshmen coming together to discuss their faith.
Chat: At the end of the retreat, Mr. Walters had students share their key or most poignant takeaway from the day. It is great to see the display of faith and deep thinking on display.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” -C.S. Lewis
The focus of the day’s retreat centers on three fundamental questions:
Why am I here?
Where am I going?
How do I get there?
To dig deeper, the day is broken up into a series of videos that has students look at these questions from a couple of different perspectives.
The first video hits close to home for all of us. Matthew Kelly’s video, The Epidemic. Mr. Kelly came up with the story over ten years ago of an epidemic hitting the world. The story was not far from the world that COVID-19 has brought forth. Mr. Kelly does a masterful job though of connecting the sacrifice of Jesus into the story.
Finally, the students watch a few videos from the Formed video series The Search. Hosted by Chris Stefanick, the videos have athletes, priests, and other professionals tackle the questions: Who do you seek? Who are you? Why a God? Who is Jesus? These videos provide additional insights and perspectives from the student’s teaching in their daily theology classes.
Here are a few of our student reflections. We have removed their names:
“I think the most memorable part about this retreat is that there must be something after death instead of just darkness. If there are multiple accounts of people witnessing something after death and even blind people (from birth) being able to describe things with color and great vividness, then there must be
something. We get our physical bodies from our parents but the soul and wherever the soul goes after death is something that I thought was extremely interesting.”
“The thing I found most interesting is our limited chance of existence and how many things had to come together at just the right time in order to be alive. It shows us that we are here for a reason--that there is a plan and someone behind it all.”
“I was intrigued on how well science and the Christian faith actually fit together. In particular: I was moved to see how the professor from Harvard was able to harmonize and connect the Biblical story of Creation with the big bang theory.”
“I found Matthew Kelly’ s video on the “Epidemic” to be intriguing. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would do in that situation. It really helped me understand why Jesus died for us, and how much I mean to Him.”
“I think the most intriguing thing from today is the tombstone idea. I found it intriguing how they said the most important part on the tombstone is the dash between the dates, with the dash being your life. How you live between the date of your birth and the date of your death is significant.”
“The thing I found the most intriguing was how people long for happiness--even with all the money and material objects in the world. People still long for something more even though they have everything they could’ve ever asked for in the world. It shows that faith in God is the true thing that everyone longs for and the true source of happiness.”