- Issue 2
There are many ways to describe the Sophomore Solidarity Retreats, but I think the best way to begin to understand is through the sheer magnitude of the retreats. 2 retreats, 24 hours, 228 sophomore students, 25 student-leaders, 16 faculty chaperones, 22 parent volunteers, 1,200 burritos, 8 slime making parties, 13 Seattle organizations, countless smiles, stories shared, lives touched.
Students began the day participating in a poverty simulation, where they received a role and were charged with the task of surviving the month on a low-income salary. Students then celebrated Mass with our Chaplain, Fr. Northrop. In the afternoon, students participated in sessions, engaged in dialogues on labeling and stereotypes, learned pastoral helping skills, and prepared and cooked dinner for the over a dozen Seattle-area services sites we partnered with. In the evening, students dispersed across the Seattle area, from South Lake Union to Burien, to serve dinner and share in fellowship with the marginalized. Students closed the night sharing moments where they saw Christ throughout the day. Most students saw Christ sitting across from them at their service site. Students overwhelmingly shared that the moments of transformation were within their ability to share in a conversation with those they were serving. That is what the Sophomore Solidarity Retreats are all about – moments of encounter. Students begin to recognize in serving others, they are encountering Christ.
I often refer to the Sophomore Solidarity Retreats as a “seed planting” retreat. We plant the seeds of compassion and kinship and hope that our students nurture those seeds as they grow throughout their years at Kennedy Catholic. This year, our sophomores blossomed throughout the day – the seeds flourishing before me. They reminded me of what it means to be a person for others. They reminded me that it is in the encounter that we are able to see Christ sitting right across from us at the table.
During the retreat, student leaders have the pleasure of speaking to peers about their experience with service. Please enjoy excerpts from senior, MJ E.’s speech to sophomores.
“When I think of selflessness, I am reminded of my mother. My mother was selfless in impactful ways that often went unnoticed: she worked hard to provide for her family; she spent every minute outside of work with her children, taking care of their needs; she provided some of her siblings a place to stay while they went through college; she lived her life in service of those around her.
You can be selfless in many ways because selflessness is the willingness to set aside our wants to seek the greatest good for others. Sure, this can look like volunteering, but it can also look like helping out a friend who’s going through a rough time, standing up for what you believe in or even just showing up. Sometimes you can be selfless by just being present.
During my own Sophomore Solidarity Retreat in 2017, I was assigned to serve at a men’s recovery shelter. That night, I met a man named Devon. While talking to him, he explained to me how he ended up living at the men’s shelter. You see, Devon was a recovering alcoholic and he lived at the men’s shelter because he was trying to get his life back together. Later, we bonded over our mutual love of basketball. Devon explained that he, too, had played basketball in high school and that’s when it hit me. It was at that moment I started to humanize him. I started to see Devon as more than the labels I had put on him. I saw him as a person.”
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