Pre-Freshman Retreat Focuses on Life of St. Ignatius
On Friday, Oct. 14, members of the Class of 2021 complemented the rigors of exam week with spiritual contemplation as they attended the Pre-Freshman Retreat. The day allowed these new Blue Jays to come together as a class for the first time and reflect upon the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola and to find ways to imitate his holiness and virtue. Their reflection centered around two experiences that St. Ignatius had as a young man: the religious awakening he had during his recovery from a battle wound in the castle of Loyola and his subsequent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he stopped, among other places, at the Benedictine Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat.
The retreat began with an outdoor skit of these two events in the life of St. Ignatius on the steps of the Chapel of the North American Martyrs. The Pre-freshmen enjoyed the representation of these classic moments in the life of St. Ignatius (who was played by senior Jarod Larriviere). The students also heard from members of Jesuit’s student organization for spiritual formation, Student Ministry. Seniors Adam Landrieu and Noah Wilkins spoke about the ways in which their own lives have been formed by lessons from the conversion of St. Ignatius in the castle, their “cannonball moments.”
After the talks in the chapel, the students went to the first round of small group meetings. Led by juniors and seniors in Student Ministry, the small group time allows students to process the insights from the talks and apply the lessons from St. Ignatius’ life to their experiences as pre-freshmen at Jesuit. Following a brief snack break, the students returned to the chapel to hear talks by seniors Jacob Acosta and Cameron Pelitere about St. Ignatius’ self-dedication to the Lord at Montserrat.
The students then proceeded to small group meeting rooms for the second time to talk about their first quarter as Blue Jays and their hopes for the future. Following these discussions, the class went to Mass together, where Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J., preached about a Latin phrase with which Ignatius would always counsel young people, vince te ipsum. Using this phrase which means, “conquer yourself,” Dyer advised the pre-freshmen to let go of feelings of self-pity during difficult moments and to overcome sinful desires in their efforts to follow Jesus in their time at Jesuit. Following a pizza lunch, the group took part in two events which re-enacted the two scenes from the life of St. Ignatius which were the focus of the retreat. First, the small groups used water balloon launchers to simulate the cannon ball wound suffered at the Battle of Pamplona.
Students then participated in a walking pilgrimage to the Church at St. Anthony of Padua parish, carrying one another on a stretcher similar to the one on which Ignatius was carried back to the Castle of Loyola. In imitation of St. Ignatius’ own walking pilgrimage, the students then prayed before the many altars in St. Anthony’s church, asking for graces in their time at Jesuit, leaving behind things that are holding them back from living according to their calling from God, and thanking God for the many talents and gifts He has given them in life so far. Students then walked back to Carrollton and Banks for the conclusion of the retreat.
The Pre-Freshman Retreat is the first of many retreats that students make in their time at Jesuit. In addition to growing in brotherhood with their classmates, each student was provided with the space to grow in his knowledge and love of God and was encouraged in his daily walk towards holiness. The theme for the night came from the book of Proverbs: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Vital to the formation of students at Jesuit is this message of allowing the Lord to write the story of each student’s life, so that his way of acting and speaking in this life can all be for the greater glory of God.