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Reflection and the Guidance of Faith

Thursday, 21 Mar 2024

Reflecting on our journey, surrounded by friends and guided by faith. The Year 12 overnight retreat took place across four beautiful locations this week, giving students time to grow, laugh, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Receiving written letters from parents/guardians was a key moment, and we look forward to witnessing the continued development of this cohort as they progress through their final year!

Why a Retreat?

Embarking on a retreat can offer numerous wellbeing benefits to our students, as retreats provide an opportunity to do just that, to ‘retreat’ or to disconnect from the stresses of the classroom and of daily life, allowing the students to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate both mentally and physically. A retreat offers a chance to focus on self-care, mindfulness, and personal growth, which can help reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout which can arise in the busyness of the school year, particularly in assessment, SAC and exam season.

Our retreats often involve activities such as prayerful reflection, team building experiences, nature walks, games, workshops and healthy eating, all of which can promote relaxation, improve moods, and enhance overall wellbeing. In a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment, our retreats provide a space for contemplation, introspection, and self-discovery, allowing our students to gain clarity, perspective, and a renewed sense of purpose and direction as they discern who they are becoming, and where God is calling them.

Studies continue to show that individuals who hold and practise a religious faith regularly, tend to have lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Prayer and meditation has been shown to lower blood pressure and bring about a greater sense of peace and calm within. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, forgiveness is experienced, self-reflection and healing takes place which can help mend and strengthen our relationships with family, friends, ourselves and God. Faith can also bring stronger coping mechanisms for when faced with difficult situations. With the hope-filled, meaningful and purpose-centred outlook that faith can bring, the lifespan of religious person can be increased from 4-10 to years longer than those who practise no faith.* Our students who come back enthused and moved by a powerful retreat experience often relate that they believe that their faith is providing them with a deep sense of purpose, hope, and comfort that can positively impact their overall health and well-being when they return to their studies and relationships with family and friends.

At Mazenod, our students can become involved in many of the following:

  • Reflection Days centred around a pertinent theme, relevant to the lives of the students (experienced by each year level from 7-12)
  • Overnight Voluntary Retreats (offered at Years 7, 8, 9 & 11), for a chance to grow in faith and community with their peers
  • Ignite Catholic Youth Conference, Brisbane (a fantastic faith formation opportunity offered at Year 10, where our students would gather together with young people from Catholic schools, parishes and youth groups all across Australia to grow and share in faith, through a festival atmosphere with high impact talks by international Catholic speakers, workshops, praise and worship and powerful sacramental experiences.
  • A Retreat Programme at Year 12 level (consisting of four reflection days & an overnight retreat) spread throughout the year in lieu of Religious Education classes
  • Junior & Senior Oblate Youth Groups (food, friendship, faith and fun), running at lunchtimes and after-school, open to all
  • ALPHA group (on what Christians believe), running at lunchtimes
  • MAYO group (on growing in Christian Discipleship), running at lunchtimes and after-school

St Eugene encourages our young people to discover and “learn who they are in the eyes of God” by leaving “nothing undared”. We too encourage our Mazenodians to do just that. As Jesus said to His disciples, “Come and see!” (Jn 1:39)... “I have come to offer you life; life to the full” (Jn 10:10).

“As being the final camp together as a cohort, the Year 12 Retreat was certainly an unforgettable reflective experience. Taking a break from the stress of SACs to instead spend time with my homeroom was a positive, furthermore the theological aspect was of great importance to me, expanding my worldview. I am so grateful for the youth ministry team and accompanying staff, who provided an appropriate format for meaningful discussions and activities about the society we live in, and also demonstrated the support available from the Mazenod community. The chance to have fun with mates, and even interact with those I wouldn’t have, combined with brilliant food and suitable free-time made this retreat all the better."– Roberto di Giovine

“The Retreat allowed me to feel gratitude for the people in my life who care for me, and gave me the opportunity to express my appreciation for them through writing a letter. We were also able to delve deep into our relationship with God through the Rosary, Reconciliation, a Paraliturgy and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.” – Christian Grano

“The Edmund Rice Retreat Centre in Amberly was absolutely beautiful with a wonderful scenery to look at every morning. The Retreat allowed me to be able to talk and build connection to students I would not normally talk to in my day to day schooling. The activities of the retreat was helpful guidance in my connection to God and how he shapes my future.” – Vincent Ngo

“The Retreat was a great opportunity to get away from school and the regular flow of each week and reflect on and refresh ourselves. The multitude of activities, including discussions, reflections, letter writing and reconciliation all helped us grow as individuals and as young men a bit more, while also enabling us to enjoy some time with our friends. The lovely venue and chances for free time in between sessions enabled us to enjoy the retreat while learning and reflecting upon important lessons and values.” – Andrew Samuel

“The Retreat has been so enjoyable. Thank you to the people who have spent time planning and organising the retreat for it to go smoothly.” – Jeremy Chen
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