St. John Vianney 8th Grade Retreat

“It was a great time away from the pressures of the world to think about God’s Creation” -Adam
“I believe this experience has brought me closer to God and my faith. I learned that I can just sit in nature and listen to God” -Anonymous
“We need to care for and protect the intricate works of God in nature” -Sara

Laudato Si’ Project had the privilege of helping plan and lead the 8th grade retreat for St. John Vianney School.  Our new partnership with St. John Vianney is the result of a program created by Marquette University High School and Laudato Si’ Project called “Our Common Home Explorer Program.” Laudato Si’ Project worked with St. John Vianney’s Youth Minister, Claire Hoffmeyer, to create a retreat experience focused on Care for Our Common Home. We wanted to create a retreat that would be prayerful, transformative, and fun. We call it “Contemplatives in Conservation.”

“I learned that caring for God’s Creation can affect others in a positive way” -Katie      
“It was very reflective and a good time to collect my thoughts. God was telling me to be thankful for Creation. I learned that God needs us to care for Creation.” –Anne  
“I heard God speaking to me about Care for Our Common Home”  -Joe
“God needs our help to care for the Earth” -Amelia
“I can praise God with everything I do and with my talents” -Bridget

The retreat took place on the beautiful wooded grounds of the Pallottine Retreat Center in Elkhorn, WI. The retreat began with an intro to Laudato Si’, witness talk, ice breaker, and group activity about finding God through beauty. In that activity, student groups searched through magazines to find images of people, places, and nature that struck them as beautiful and reflected God in some way. They presented their collages explaining the beauty in each image and created a group prayer.

“This retreat helped me see God in nature” -Conor
“One take away is to be a good steward of this Earth” -Julian
“Everyone needs to pitch in to help our world” -Andrew
“This retreat was faith-filled and peaceful” -Annie
“One take away is that I should take time out of my day to pray” -Morgan
“My experience was reflective, peaceful, and fun. I liked it a lot and it was a great time to hear God.” –Theresa

The remainder of the morning was spent outside doing various stations focused on forming a relationship with God and His Creation. Stations were titled: Be Still, Pray, Meditate, Give Thanks, Imagine, and Mercy. At the end of the stations, students reflected upon their experience and received a Care for Our Common Home patch as a visible sign of their retreat experience. A wonderful lunch was provided and the day concluded with mass at the retreat center. Special thanks to all the St. John Vianney teachers and MUHS student Henry Rohmer, for helping make this day a memorable one for students.

“My experience was fantastic and I was blessed to have been here” -Erin
“It was really fun to connect with God. I heard him speak to me about how to serve him and to go out and do things for the needy” -Michael
“God spoke to me and told me to never lose faith” -Ainsleigh

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