SJC hosts retreat

Ellie Crist, Freelance Writer

After her friends got her hooked on religious retreats last year, Junior Leader Sabina Llerenas ‘21 chose to make more of an impact on the community.  Llernas thought it would be a great opportunity to be a teen leader for the St. John of the Cross (SJC) Salt & Light Retreat for freshmen and sophomore students on Feb. 28 and 29.  She decided to help more since she knew what it was like to once be in their footsteps, Llerenas said.

“I knew what the freshmen and sophomores were going through,” Llerenas said.  “I felt like I could relate and help out with advice, since I knew what it was like to be them.  I also felt like I was making a bigger impact with them.”

The Youth Ministry Program has held multiple retreats over the past years, Youth Minister of SJC Katie Pruitt said.  The number of retreats ranges from 12 to 15, each with different themes and names, but they’ve all mostly been for freshmen and sophomore students in the local community.  The particular retreat on Feb. 28 and 29 had the theme of Salt & Light.  Teens discussed what both–salt and light–meant to them and who were the salts and lights of their lives.  Not only were these things talked about, but they were shown throughout the retreat.

“We did this activity to share the light of our lives with the group,” Nicole Bendyk, a freshman who attended the retreat, said.  “It was a vulnerable and eye-opening experience as many of us said who had inspired us to be who we are every day.”

The program leaders in charge of the retreats have to always make sure to hit every teen’s interests as well as making them feel comfortable, included, inspired, and closer to their faith, Pruitt said.  However, she also said, there’s usually no problem meeting these simple expectations.

“The retreats I’ve been to have brought me closer to my faith and have gotten me to reflect more on my life.”  Llerenas said.  “It’s a good way to step back and get a good look on what’s going on in your own life.”

While all the retreats are religious and focus a lot on one’s faith, they also have many different games and activities to keep the attendees having fun, Pruitt said.  The first day of the retreat consisted of playing little introductory games, participating in glow-in-the-dark tag, playing basketball or volleyball, learning from a teaching mass, discussing serious topics, and spending the night in the parish center.

The second day of the retreat gave attendees the opportunity to learn a Hannah Montana dance, solve clues in an escape room, make crafts out of salt dough, and go on a scavenger hunt, Bendyk said.  Many of the activities even involved winning the prize of a gift card to Andy’s Frozen Custard.

“I love getting to know everyone,” Pruitt said, “All the freshmen and sophomores and especially the teen leaders.  They have so much commitment and dedication because they take time out of doing their own things, like sports and friends, just to help out at a religious retreat.  Not a lot of teens would do that, so it’s awesome that they were able to.”