Junior Overnight Retreat Connects Students to the Catholic Faith

Plank Article Nick Ferguson ’22

At Jesuit High School Sacramento, the Junior Overnight Retreats finished as of Nov.10. This retreat is an essential experience at Jesuit that gives the junior class an opportunity to take a break from day-to-day life in order to reflect on their lives by focusing on their relationship with God and others.

The Junior Overnight Retreat takes place over two days at Christ the King Retreat Center. This year there were five separate junior overnight retreats, beginning on Oct. 20 and ending Nov. 10. 

Associate Director for Campus Ministry Mr. Adam McGrew ’15, describes the purpose of the retreat, and the importance it holds at Jesuit. 

“Each retreat kind of builds on itself,” Mr. McGrew said. “We are trying to form our students into recognizing who they are, who God created them to be, uncovering some of those gifts and talents God gave them, and that they’re called to take out into the world and use for his greater glory.”

The Junior Overnight retreat is deeply connected to the Catholic faith; however, students do not need to be religious to participate. Retreatent Derek Chen ’23 comments on how the retreat has benefited him even though he is not religious.

“The retreat for me is kind of a place to learn new things because I’m not religious,” Derek said. “I don’t believe in any religion, so for me, it is really a new opportunity to dig deep. Personally, for me, it is a good chance to learn about how the Catholic teaching relates to our student life.”

Over the course of the retreat, there are many activities that the retreatants engage in that allow them to reflect on their lives and their relationship with God. Mr. McGrew highlights some of these activities that the Junior Overnight offers.

“There are a few different activities that one would encounter when going on retreat,” Mr. McGrew said. “We have our large group presentations, talks given by students, talks given by faculty members that focus on the retreat themes and explain the process and share personal testimonies about where God has been present in their life. They will also encounter quite a bit of small group time.”

The big group talks are a very crucial part as they set the themes of the retreat, but the small group talks are also very important because they are a safe place for students to share their personal experiences. 

“Christ is very much present in the words that are spoken in the large group sessions, but also in the small groups,” Mr. McGrew said. “He is present in the things that are shared, and it’s important for retreatants when they go into a small group session to be open to what is being said, but also be open to sharing from the depth of who they are as well.”

Derek believes that the small group sessions are the most important aspect of the Junior Overnight. 

“I think the most valuable part of the retreat is the small group discussion,” Derek said. “That’s the core.”

Another significant part of the Junior Overnight is the Senior Retreat Team Leaders. Each Senior Retreat Team member leads a small group of juniors through the retreats many activities, including the small group talks. Senior Retreat Team member, JP Leatherby ’22 talks about why he likes to lead the Junior Overnight. 

“I’ve always liked to talk to people,” JP said. “I’ve always enjoyed just getting different perspectives, talking with other people, and when I was in the retreats, just talking with juniors and talking to people that I don’t know, I just came to like it. I like to get their perspective on certain things.”

JP also stresses the amount of growth he sees in the juniors over the course of the two days. 

“From beginning to end, you can kind of see them, I guess you can say like cracking an eggshell,” JP said. “In the beginning, they definitely don’t want to talk about it; they don’t want to be there, and by the end, I can tell they’re more comfortable, they’re more engaging.”

After juniors return from this important retreat, they have taken an important step in their faith journey at Jesuit. They come back with a stronger connection to God, to their classmates, and to themselves.