By Jackie Fletcher, Features Editor
AP exams. SAT and ACT tests. Prom. Final tests and projects. Athletic tournaments. May is one of the busiest times of the school year as the culmination of many activities takes place during the final weeks of school. Campus Minister Sister Mariann Mahon knew exactly what the students needed – a reflection day.
The reflection days, which aim to refresh students and allow them to reflect while building stronger bonds with classmates, were a necessity in Mahon’s eyes. “While each of the three reflection days was unique, one of the things for which I am most grateful is that each day included quiet time for personal reflection,” said Mahon.
The juniors partook in a reflection morning on May 12, the day of their prom and the day after the conclusion of their AP Exams. It took place on campus and was spearheaded by retreat leader Deacon Dennis Corcoran. Through various activities, it focused upon the main themes of gifts, gratitude, perception and vision.
“Even though we were all excited for prom and tired from AP’s, Dennis kept us all very engaged and allowed us to thoroughly self-reflect, which was beneficial for all the difficult weeks to come,” junior Kaitlyn Vogel said.
The sophomore class, whose reflection day was on May 6 at the Upper Room Spiritual Center in Neptune, consisted of three different sessions through which the students rotated. The first, led by Sister Maureen Conroy, focused on prayer and meditation and what an individual can do to help achieve peace and stillness in their own minds and hearts. The second, led by Sister Maureen Christensen, allowed students to enter a real labyrinth that aimed to provide direction and clarity through prayer and walking. The final session, led by Sister Trudy Ahern, was centered around liturgical dancing, gestures and singing in order to show how they can be beneficial to prayer life.
“The class retreat was a great way for the entire [class] to become closer to our classmates and helped us each renew our faith and know ourselves further,” sophomore Kate Burgess said. “The break from our everyday schedule helped us all to reflect and showed us new, good ways to center ourselves and have a deeper understanding of ourselves.”
The freshmen completed their reflection day on May 11 in the Parish Center at the Church of the Precious Blood in Monmouth Beach. The theme of the retreat was ‘retweet’ in an effort to resonate more with the students. Led by Kate and Bryan Mayer, a series of class activities were incorporated to help students align themselves more clearly with their hopes and goals and reflect on what the past year had brought them.
“I felt the reflection day enabled us to have a clear mind before finals. It also helped me connect my thoughts about religion to my everyday life,” freshman Mia Higgins said.
After each class was settled in back at school, Sister Mariann asked every student to fill out a response sheet so that she could evaluate the effectiveness of the retreat days. “Feedback from students reinforces the value of [this] time. All three classes said ‘Yes!’ to my question of whether or not we should invite the leaders back for retreat another year,” Mahon said.