In a word the retreat was “enlightening” says Caitlyn Pinto in Grade 11. From November 2 to November 8 we were blessed to welcome Mr. John Donohue-Grossman; an inspirational storyteller and experienced retreat leader in the Lasallian tradition. John led our Grade 7-11 Day Retreats held at Holy Rosary Parish and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Students spent each day getting to know themselves and one another, all in the context of a relationship with God. We celebrated mass together in the parish and participated in group activities that were designed to draw students out of their own space and engage the other people around them. The students experienced affirmation activities where they spent time recognizing each other and their talents and their gifts. Some groups were led on a guided meditation that invited students to engage with their own challenges and important people in their lives. Nicholas Dodig called it an opportunity for “growth.”
On Monday, October 29 a large portion of the Grade 12’s spent the day considering what their faith life might look like once they leave De La Salle. In the morning, Br. Francis Eells, who is the vocation contact for the Brothers in this district, spoke to the Grade 12’s about what it means to have a vocation and to consider where they might find real and true happiness in following the will of God. Students then walked down to the Newman Centre at UofT–which is the centre of Catholic Chaplaincy at UofT. Most universities have a Newman Centre, or something like it. Here, Fr. Peter Turrone, a published Neuro-Scientist, spoke to the students about some of the challenges they would encounter at a secular university as a young Catholic. We joined the university students for mass at noon. Students then walked over to the University of St. Michael’s College at UofT to listen to a reflection from Erica Trice, who is the campus minister at St. Mike’s. She reflected on encouraging our young people to find hope in their religious faith and practice at university with a special attention to staying connected via a healthy prayer life and making links to like-minded people on campus.