Jesus + Me = Key

With a cool breeze and serene sounds of nature, getting closer to God is no problem. Relaxation comes easily to DHS juniors in Rosaryville while taking a break from their hectic school routine.

Reflecting on the Experience – Taking the time to gather her thoughts, junior Olivia Ryan writes a reflection of her retreat experience. Each year, members of the junior class participate in a two-day retreat at Rosaryville in Ponchatoula, La. – photo by Gloria Thomas

Every year, the junior class participates in a retreat at Rosaryville Retreat Center in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Once per quarter, members of the junior class travel for an overnight stay where they can commune with God, nature and each other. The pine trees, freshly cut grass and cool crisp air work together to create a tranquil environment. Being in this retreat center supports the students’ use of prayer, group activities and pure fun to grow closer to God and their classmates.

 Campus Minister Ms. Claire Gallagher (‘04) and the 2019 Retreat Team worked together to make retreat a time to connect with Jesus through prayer and faith-building activities. In order to accomplish this plan, retreat is two full days long instead of the previous one and a half- day stay. Students leave Dominican in the morning, allowing a few extra hours for “even more time for God to remind us of our true purpose,” said Ms. Gallagher.

  “(The Retreat Team) recognized a need for more time with God outside of school,” Ms. Gallagher said. “We found that it’s difficult to disconnect from a school mindset when you’re spending half the day at school and then going on retreat.” Ms. Gallagher and the Retreat Team see this important get-away as an outlet for students to take time to detach from school and spend time with God.

Locking in the meaning of the retreat, senior Emilie Wensel leads a group of juniors in creating mementos of their time together in Rosaryville. As a Retreat Team member, Wensel helped plan the retreat around the theme, Jesus Is Key. – photo by Gloria Thomas

This year’s theme is Jesus is Key, and Retreat Team members want to reinforce the idea to “’waste time’ with God anyway you know how to,” said Ms. Gallagher.   “From music to coloring, being in God’s presence extends far beyond getting on your knees and saying a prayer,” Ms. Gallagher said.  

While on retreat, juniors practice faith sharing in an activity called a Cornerstone. Retreat Team members minister to their peers in a session of faith-sharing to help the juniors find different ways to pray, read scripture and talk with God. “It opened the juniors up to different types of prayer and to realize that they can pray in non-traditional ways,” said senior Grace DiFranco, Retreat Team member.

For some, Junior Retreat can be intimidating because retreat is off campus and overnight. Being on retreat raised concerns for some juniors struggling in their faith and prayer life. “I dreaded the idea of retreat because I felt I should be doing schoolwork instead,” said junior Bryce Perkins. However, Perkins was surprised to see how retreat heightened her spiritual senses. “I had enough time to realize the true purpose of retreat: to get closer to God,” she said.

Junior Ava Rose agreed. “For me the retreat showed me that yes, Jesus is the answer to everything, but that phrase is more than a catchy saying,” said Rose. “Retreat taught me that God can heal all wounds, fix all broken hearts and solve all problems.”  

– Gloria Thomas