Every year the students of St Kieran’s College have a day set aside for retreat. A retreat is a chance for our students to relax, to take some time out of their busy schedules and to spend some time together with their friends. Retreats provide opportunities for the students to reflect on their lives and to perhaps discuss and think about what direction their lives are going in. Retreats can also be spiritual experiences with some time set aside for some prayer and meditation.
Our First Year students have their retreat in the school. This is a day which gives each of the First Years a good opportunity to meet and get to know everyone in their class in a more informal setting. Organised by our Chaplains and Cairdeas leaders, the day begins with a couple of games which encourages the students to speak to others that they haven’t yet spoken to. A good part of the day is spent on an anti-bullying workshop. There is also some time allocated for questions, answers, reflection and prayer.
In second year, students begin their retreat with mass in a local parish. In 2018, we visited Dunamaggin parish Church. Former St Kieran’s College Principal, Fr Flavin celebrated mass with our group. Students visit the ruins of Kells Priory for an organised tour. Their day finishes with a reflective walk around the grounds of Castlemorris estate. Prayers and reflections are recited. In third year, students start the day with mass in Duiske Abbey, Grauigenamanagh . A retreat walk begins at the Barrow bridge and ends at the monastic site of St Mullins. The students tend to enjoy these days as it is away from their everyday routines. Time is given along the route to pray, meditate and listen to the beauty of nature. The students return to school relaxed and refreshed.
In Fourth Year the retreat takes on a slightly different dynamic. Students go on some form of pilgrimage for a day. In recent years this has involved walking around the Monastic site of Glendalough, Co. Wicklow and a visit to Mount Melleray in Co. Waterford. We stop for thoughts and discussion along the way. These pilgrimages offer the students a time to relax with their classmates, away from their usual routine in school with a chance to reflect a little on life and on their spirituality. Fifth year sees the students attend the Retreat Centre at Castletown. Students spend time in small groups discussing issues relevant to their lives. Dramas and art work are created by each group reflecting their discussions. Students enjoy the wide open spaces of the large campus.
Sixth year retreats take place in school. Titled ‘Life after the Leaving Cert’, students listen to presentations from two past pupils. Each past pupil talks about their experiences of leaving St Kieran’s and their journey to this point in their lives. The students enjoy listening to people sharing their experiences. The retreat concludes with lunch in Langton’s.
Retreats offer a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In St. Kieran’s College we feel that it is important for all students to get an opportunity to take time out of their busy lives during the school year. We often hear of things which can happen in life that puts things into perspective for us. May we never lose sight of the real meaning of our lives and give thanks for the many blessings we have.