Where we have been and where we are going…
The last lessons in Religious Education for 2018 at St Edmunds College Canberra, has initiated an amazing transformation for a group of Year 9 students. The boys were invited to participate in a retreat experience which was planned and facilitated by Mr. Trent Masters. The four-part retreat experience was based on themes encompassing the past, present, and the future with a particular focus on areas relevant to the boy’s student’s life at St Edmund’s.
Session 1 “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers… who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12 ) Year 9 started their retreat experience by sharing their earliest memories. Feelings of nostalgia overwhelmed the boys as they were quizzed about logos they identified with, games they played or even food they ate. They were then asked to reflect on who had influenced them the most. Mr. Masters shared a powerful story relaying his earliest memories. The boys were invited to share in small groups and encouraged to speak positively to each other, to listen with intent and to respect each individual and their journey.
Session 2: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Our second session examined the timeline of their lives to this point. Highlighting events and people who had made an impact at difficult times and during the good times. This activity allowed the boys to write down and name events and people whom they may have only thought about. By writing it and sharing it with their closest peers, some of our boys were able to make connections between who they are and what has influenced them. In addition to that, they were challenged to think about when they experienced God, perhaps in a person or an event.
Session 3: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”(Matthew 5:16) Our third session focused on who we project ourselves to be to the outside world. Our boys were asked to draw their masks and show what it is they want the world to see. Following this activity, our boys watched an Ashanti Branch TED talk which speaks about the masks we wear and the societal expectations we feel we need to meet. Branch shares his story about who he felt he was meant to be growing up, with certain rules he was meant to follow. He also speaks about how young men in school wear ‘masks’ which covers up their authentic ability, their passions, and their identity. He encourages young men to take off their ‘masks’ and find their passion, and most importantly, feel safe to do so. Likewise, this was discussed with our boys and they were invited to share their thoughts and feelings with their closest peers.
Session 4: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6) Our final sessions looked to the future. The students listened to the sharing of Mr. Joe Zavone who invited them to set goals and new horizons for their remaining years at St Edmund’s College. With faith at the core of the school, the students were invited to always be open to encountering Christ along their journey and to let their light shine for all to see.
A special thanks must be said for Mr. Trent Masters who orchestrated this experience for the boys. His energy, passion, and vision for this retreat were exceptional and such a blessing for all of our boys to be a part of. We look forward to hosting more of these valuable experiences in all year groups in the future. Mrs Carmela Wilson Head of Faculty- Religious Education