SEARCH Retreat is often a defining time for a Lancer. For nearly 40 years, SEARCH has impacted thousands of students, especially retreat leaders and their leadership crew. It is their hard work and dedication that make this singular experience possible.

This year’s Spring SEARCH head leaders, Seniors Brandon Ducusin and Alyssa Bernd, along with their leadership crew, planned, prepared, and prayed for the success of their SEARCHers and their retreat that was scheduled for early March.

Just days before they would board their buses and head to the retreat center, schools across the state were closed and their events, including Kennedy SPIRITUAL GROWTH Catholic’s Spring SEARCH retreat, were cancelled to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While they were not able to experience the retreat, or journal and share a reflection with their peers during the closing ceremony, these are their messages about the impact of SEARCH on their lives. ◆


BRANDON DUCUSIN 

There is a phrase that we say at SEARCH… “Never stop searching.” This moves me deeply since finding out this spring our SEARCH retreat would not be taking place. Although events out of our control may have stopped our weekend, I’ve come to realize they cannot stop the message of SEARCH. I worked with an absolutely amazing team, heard stories that made me cry and felt emotions I never thought I could feel amongst people who initially felt like strangers, but are now a part of a new little family. They put the meaning in SEARCH.

I learned that everyone has a story and everyone deserves to be heard. So often we get caught up in ourselves and lose sight of what life is really about. SEARCH reflects the meaning of life for me which is to serve others and in doing so, serve God.

We call it SEARCH because all anyone has to do is search for the good, and God will reveal himself. So, to the SEARCHers: open yourself to his care and let him move you in mysterious ways. Know that people care about you more than you may ever know, and God cares for you more than anyone could ever imagine.

Our theme for our Spring SEARCH was Horton Hears a Who. Alyssa and I chose this theme because we felt there were so many connections to God within the classic children’s book. The story of the beloved elephant, the largest of creatures, caring for the smallest of creatures perfectly represents how God remains in all of our lives. Throughout the story, the small creatures get lost and face many trials, but Horton goes above and beyond to protect them again and again. When they doubted if he was always going to be there he answered, “Of course I will stick. I’ll stick by you small folks through thin and through thick!” I thank Horton for the reassurance and God for the same astounding presence in times where things may not go as we wish.

We may not have had our weekend, or an official retreat, but we still have God and all the personal growth he has granted us; so never stop searching.


ALYSSA BERND

SEARCH is a large part of the Lancer Family. While at the retreat, SEARCHers come together and find their faith, their beliefs, and a place where they feel a sense of community. Inevitably they find the heart of the Lancer Family – a place they feel loved.

Sadly, due to unfortunate unforeseeable events, Spring SEARCH was cancelled this year. I know for myself it was a hard pill to swallow and I can only imagine the disappointment each SEARCHer and retreat leader felt.

Brandon and I poured our heart and energy into Spring SEARCH 2020 as did this year’s amazing Leadership Crew. The work preparing for SEARCH still deserves to be shared and spread throughout the community in a message of hope and love. To the many SEARCHers and to our wonderful Spring SEARCH family here is my message for you:

SEARCH is an experience I like to say is “very thin” to me; meaning very close to heaven, it feels so close to God and our faith unlike anywhere else, it is a truly special experience.

Each member of the Leadership Crew wrote talks to share their story while at SEARCH. These talks are a large part of what makes SEARCH so special. Each story offered a lesson and an opportunity for growth that I took away and will keep close to my heart. Lesley shared the true her, Rigean was open about hardships she rose from with the help of her faith, Mason found Jesus in his life and encouraged us to find Jesus in ours, Audrey shared immense obstacles she has experienced that touched my heart in ways I will never forget, Gilbert shared about communion and communities in his life, Lucky enlightened us with the power of forgiveness, Alex reflected on the power of words, and Josalyn shared her experience with prayer and what it has done for her.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to experience each of these talks and each story helped Brandon and I choose the theme for this year’s retreat – Horton Hears a Who. In this classic children’s book an evil bird takes the flower holding Whoville, the town full of the smallest creatures, and drops it into a field of millions of identical flowers. Horton the elephant, and largest creature who looks after Whoville, plucks 2,999,999 flowers before finding the flower.

I found this as a metaphor of us as Whos and God as Horton; we as humans often feel so lonely and unheard in the world surrounded by billions of other humans, but God will always find us when we feel lost and so small.

To all the SEARCHers: I will continue to pray for you and your faith until you experience your individual search whatever and wherever that may be. Regardless of the outcome, I am forever blessed and grateful for this opportunity to be your head leader and may you never stop searching.