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Senior retreat makes lasting impact on John Paul the Great students

Forty-seven senior girls from Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries embarked on a spiritual retreat hosted at Camp Wabanna in Edgewater, Md., March 16-17.

Coordinated by Emma Boyle, the director of mission and the new evangelization at John Paul the Great, the trip featured catered meals, a series of talks from women who shared their own faith journeys, and, most significantly, opportunities for spiritual reflection and worship.

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A cross overlooks the water behind the main house at Camp Wabanna in Edgewater, Md. MAEVE RANDALL | COURTESY

Recounting an experience she shared with the girls one morning, Boyle noted the trip strengthened relationships between the young women who attended the retreat. “There was a really beautiful sunrise when we were there and a couple of the girls got up early, went running, took pictures, came to breakfast, and told us stories about the sunrise,” she said. 

The girls also had a lot of fun on the bus rides to and from Camp Wabanna. “There was a lot of singing on the bus and it was definitely entertaining with boom boxes,” said senior Maeve Randall.

Students and adults said that the spiritual community provided by the retreat strengthened not only their relationships with one another, but also their faith. 

Reflecting on her experience, Mae Salitsky, a religion and English teacher who chaperoned, expressed the powerful impact students had on her own faith. “My faith was really edified by the witness of the girls. As a religion teacher, I can find myself getting into the position of thinking, ‘Oh, I’m the one who’s passing on the faith and they’re receiving it.’ And then, in moments like that I realize, ‘Oh no, I’m actually receiving so much just from witnessing the students take it so much to heart.’ It encouraged me to know that the faith that is entrusted to students at this school — they take it very seriously. They’re concerned about being able to live it in college and grow in it while they’re away, with much more passion than I had at their age.”

Going on retreats can be a great way to grow in your faith, and if you go with companions, grow closer together. “Going on a retreat is amazing because it lets you step away from the distractions of your daily life so that you can focus on the things that really matter and have the time and mental space to pray, and to spend time with friends, and to rest,” said Boyle.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018