Looking back at the retreats I’ve led


(Photo Provided by Mr. Lyons)

The fall Kairos leaders smile for a quick picture.

Alicia Dofelmier, Features Editor

This past Tuesday, April 26, I helped out with the junior high retreat that took place here on campus. As I was helping lead it, I realized that it was my last time ever helping lead a retreat during high school. While this did make me sad, it also helped me realize just how much leading retreats over my four years of high school has helped me grow as both a person and a leader.

The very first retreat I led was my sophomore retreat. When I first started high school, I had no intention of ever leading retreats. But when sophomore year rolled around and student leaders were needed for the retreat, I decided to volunteer. And I can say without a doubt that that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Once I volunteered, the next few weeks were filled with lunch meetings, figuring out room and group assignments, and general logistics. While those weeks were definitely chaotic, they were a lot of fun, and by the time the retreat rolled around, even though I was nervous, I was ready.

That retreat was the first time that I led a small group and realized just how much I enjoyed watching people who didn’t really know each other open up and form a tight bond. It was also the first time that I gave a talk and realized that my past experiences can help others. That retreat showed me that I do have what it takes to lead others, and I will forever be grateful for the experience and wonderful memories.

A few of the sophomores during the sophomore retreat smile while eating lunch together. (Photo Credit: Alicia Dofelmier)

Due to COVID-19, the next retreat that I was able to lead was almost two years later. This time I led the Junior Retreat which took place this past September. I chose to lead the retreat because I wanted another opportunity to grow as a leader and in my faith while also getting to know juniors who I didn’t know. And it was another great experience. I again got to watch my group get to know each other and slowly open up. And I was able to push myself to share things with people who I didn’t know too.

As soon as that retreat ended, it was full speed ahead with Kairos. I attended Kairos in the spring of my junior year with the intent to lead it my senior year. And when Mrs. Kearns formally asked me to lead fall Kairos, I said yes. Without a doubt, fall Kairos is one of my key high school memories.

My small group and I pose for a fun picture during Kairos. (Photo Provided by Mr. Lyons)

Fall Kairos is what makes me see just how far I’ve come as a leader. It was the first retreat where I didn’t feel nervous about leading a small group, but rather excited. And the speech that I wrote for Kairos is one of the most personal things I’ve ever written, and being able to say it in front of people whom I didn’t know that well showed me how far I’ve come as a leader. I was no longer scared to share my own experiences, but rather I was thankful for the opportunity.

This past Tuesday, as I gave a talk about relying on the Holy Spirit to a group of 7th graders, I realized that I would not be the leader I am without the many retreats that I’ve led. Leading retreats has given me an opportunity to connect with people I didn’t know, deepen my faith, and grow in confidence. Today I am not scared to lead a small group or share my experiences with others, which is a far cry from sophomore year. All of the retreats that I’ve led have helped me immensely, and I will forever be grateful to Mrs. Townsend, my religion teacher at Connelly, and Mrs. Kearns ‘78 for believing in me and giving me a chance to lead retreats.

A few of the group leaders for the Junior High Retreat smile before the kids arrive. (Photo Credit: Alicia Dofelmier)