The Structure of our three-day retreats:
“Relax, Reflect, Reconcile, Affirm, Celebrate, Resolve.”
Starting the retreat
The first morning of the retreat is intended to put the young people at their ease, to get to know the group and introduce the idea of reflection.
We show the group to their rooms and if possible allow some free time before starting formally. The team introduce themselves briefly. Icebreakers overcome initial reserve and get the young people talking to each other. There should be a short session in small groups before the theme of the retreat is introduced.
The mid-day and evening meals are important times of relaxation and sharing. We begin with grace, and we encourage good behaviour by ensuring that one of us, or a member of staff, is sitting at each table. Before the final grace there is time for announcements about what is happening next.
A walk together continues the process of relaxation. It helps the young people to realise the beauty of the place they have come to and gives further opportunities for building trust and friendship.
This is linked to the theme of the retreat and helps the young people recall significant events in their lives: at home, in their school career, among their friends and in their journey of faith. Members of the team encourage this by brief and clear accounts of their own experiences.
After the evening meal, and some free time, we move to the small groups for a sharing session, aimed at opening up the different stories each person has to tell.
The leader can begin with a brief exercise to make the group more aware of attitudes which help the session go well. We are not therapists or counsellors. We offer an atmosphere of sympathetic listening. If there is any discussion, it should remain close to the shared experience of the group. There should be time afterwards to relax before the closing session.
Night Prayer and Salesian Goodnight
The day should end with a short prayer moment, (Sometimes this takes place in the small groups). By means of a short story, or better, an observed incident of the day, the Goodnight seeks to underline a key element in the first day of the retreat.