Sixth year pupils spent a reflective, prayerful day with school chaplain, Fr. King, and both Mrs Mulholland and Miss McGuiness, on Monday the 24th of November, in St. Thomas’ Parish in Pather.
After waiting for the final few stragglers to arrive- not mentioning names, but those boys who can’t differentiate between Carluke and Pather, and got off at the wrong bus stop (not much difference, only 5 miles) we got started. Father King’s first activity, although seemingly inconsequential and harmless, turned out to bring out sixth year’s competitive streak: a Christmas quiz, completed in hushed whispers and pointed glares. When the answers were revealed, the protestations were dangerously close to riots. Who would have thought we were sixth years, squabbling over a Christmas quiz?
Following that, we engaged in some contemplative time. We flowed into the chapel and took our seats, before taking part in mass with a few local parishioners. A beautiful mass was said, and the whole year seemed restful as we returned to the church hall to continue our activities. We then, explored the roles of those involved in Advent, besides Jesus: Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the Wise men. Each group was expected to do a character study of each of the roles, and report back to the year on what they had written. In the character study, we:
- analysed their motives during events
- developed a deeper understanding of their actions
- reflected on whether or not we would act in the same way as they had if we were in the same situation
Undoubtedly, after the period of time we spent looking at each influential role within our groups, and then hearing others report back on what they had learned, we had gained a greater overall understanding of the reason we celebrate Advent in the first place.
After a short break for lunch, we returned to the hall, and held a Q&A session with Father King. By the end we had learned that he doesn’t regret not being married, most of the time- as he would only get nagged, his opinions on some of the Church’s more controversial issues, his reasons for becoming a priest, and that he would rather have dinner with Judas than Pontius Pilate. Although reluctant to finish up, our final activity merited a return to the Chapel, where we had a healing service; each pupil was blessed and anointed with ashes. Walking away, smelling slightly of mint and lemon from the ashes, there was a feeling of rejuvenation from Father King’s motivational, inspirational speeches.
Maybe it was because of the knowledge that it would be our last retreat as part of Our Lady’s, but I’m certain all of us left changed.