All students at SJND go on a retreat each year with their class and members of the faculty. Retreats are an opportunity for them to strengthen their relationship with others and God based on trust, as well as learn more about the plight of others and make a difference by helping in the community.
Lower division retreats include a service component, with sophomores participating in an immersion in San Francisco. Upper division retreats run for more than one day and require overnight stays at a retreat center.
Retreats are a powerful tool for high school students to examine the values they develop, as well as their relationships with others and their faith. At SJND, the retreat program is well-regarded, and alumni often return to volunteer on the culminating retreat for seniors, Kairos. Here's a look at what students can expect in the four-year retreat program at SJND:
Freshman Retreat is a one-day class retreat that focuses on team building through service to the community. Students develop the value of service and the spirit of volunteerism as a class, and they pray together and build a strong community that promotes generosity and compassion for others.
Sophomore Immersion Retreat gives students a view of the social mission of the Catholic church as they volunteer at St. Anthony's in the Tenderloin, San Francisco. Students develop awareness of the plight of the poor and the marginalized and respond with compassion and mercy and a determination to work for peace and justice in our society.
Junior Retreat is an opportunity to bond together as a group and to develop the value of trust and confidence with one another. The main theme of this overnight retreat is for students to learn to trust themselves, their classmates and God.
Kairos Senior Class Retreat is a three-day opportunity for students to participate in a meaningful experience of exploration, during which they learn: sharing life together, affirming each other, seeking forgiveness, reflecting on life and faith experience, and participating in communal worship.
A “Kairos” moment
by Fr. Matthew Murray, former SJND Campus Pastor
Kairos: the mysterious retreat the senior class attends. With a name like that of a recently discovered planet, Kairos is a week away from school, homework, sports, and other normal activities. Everyone who attends keeps the secrets of what happens from those who have not yet attended. Why this peculiar name for the retreat? Kairos is a Greek word used in the Bible meaning time. It is not the type of time we usually think about- seconds, minutes, hours, days- which is referred to as “chronos.” Kairos is specific period of time, a moment, the right moment. It refers to God’s sense of time, the moment where he acts in human lives and in human history. Kairos is a moment in which God brings about salvation, help, healing, and growth.
During Kairos, students are given the opportunity to enter into this new way of looking at time. Distractions are put away: phones are off, laptops are closed, and iPads are covered. At the retreat center, far removed from daily life, students not only survive, but cherish the time spent on Kairos. It creates space to look at the bigger picture, and gives their lives perspective by reflecting on what matters most.
Retreatants are invited to come to know themselves better. It is also a time for reflection on the relationships that are a special part of their lives, including the role of their parents and loved ones. They have the chance to see how far they have come with the other members of their class, and the opportunity to mend those relationships that may be broken. In each of these relationships, God is working and offering opportunities for a deeper relationship with Him.
At a point of their lives before entering their final year at SJND, students take Kairos to reflect on their relationship with God and the example that Christ has left for those who follow Him Through prayer, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Eucharist, they can hear and receive from Christ.
With all the gifts received during the Kairos experience- deeper self-knowledge, class unity, and a more meaningful relationship with God- it is evident why students treasure the retreat for the rest of their lives. Kairos is a chance to notice how God is working in their lives, and realize that every moment is indeed a “Kairos” moment.