On Tuesday, January 12th St. Boniface students in grade 7 and 8 left for their residential retreat at Mount Mary in Ancaster. They would have left Monday but due to the snow storm and buses cancelled their retreat dates had to be pushed forward a day which just added to the anticipation.
Grade 8 students from the Waterloo Catholic District School Board have been given the opportunity to get away from their regular routine of school life to experience a retreat. Because there are not many students in Grade 8 at St. Boniface School, Grade 7 students are also invited to participate in this program.
The residential retreat is a guided live-in experience designed to help student’s continue to integrated their faith and spirituality with life. The students get an opportunity to work toward the fulfillment of the Ontario Catholic School graduate expectations.
This retreat experience focuses on building a Christian community lifestyle through a variety of activities. It increases a positive sense of self and teaches community building.
Next year, the Grade 7’s students will be in Grade 8 and along with the new Grade 7’s will be making their Confirmation to the church. Because the class size is small, one year the students go on a retreat and the following year they make their Confirmation. Every retreat is specifically designed to meet the needs and culture of each student.
The planning process began a few months ago, with Grade 7 and 8 teachers, Leisha Huber and Henry Bink along with principal Jo Ann Giesler. When planning the retreat, they took into consideration the different needs of the students and planned activities, discussions and liturgies around those needs.
The Mount Mary site has been the residential retreat for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board for more than 30 years.
The centre is within an hour’s drive to Waterloo Region and is on 100 acres of rolling hills, wooded areas and gardens that provide an ideal retreat setting. The property site is on the edge of the Dundas Conservation area and the Bruce Trail. The students usually take a four hour hike on this trail as part of their retreat. This year was quite an experience with all the snow, but one that the students are still talking about and probably will be for quite a while.
The main building is a converted high school, complete with dining rooms, classrooms, meeting rooms, a gymnasium, a beautiful chapel and boys and
Grade 2 and 3 teacher Karen Randall had her students busy making a large banner with all remaining students and staff signing to welcome the students back on Thursday, January 14th. This banner was hung in the gym.
The school was given a head-up when the bus would be pulling into the parking lot. All the remaining students and staff from the school met in the gym. When the tired staff and student entered the school they were directed into the gym where they were met with lots of music as music teacher Sean O’Brien had some of the student bring instruments as well as others giving them resounding cheers, whistles and claps.