Spring 2017 President's Report: Retreating
This past week I had the pleasure of joining 19 seniors and three other faculty members on the Emmaus Retreat. At 2:00 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon we loaded up on a chartered school bus and headed up to the Linwood Spiritual Center in Rhinebeck, NY. The two-and-a-half-hour drive passed quickly as faculty member Joe Quinn ’04, campus ministry intern Sam Marth ’12, and I chatted about literature, movies, and life.
Former faculty member and now retreat guide, Tony Conti, met us at Linwood and helped us to quickly settle in. For many of the students and the other faculty members it was a return visit, but for me and a few others, it was our first time to this beautiful spot at the peak of its springtime color.
This retreat, understandably, is based on Luke’s Gospel story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35), and the dynamic of the retreat is conversation. Early on I had inquired about the timeline or schedule. Tony told me that we were pretty fluid on this retreat, and we let the movement of the discussions lead the schedule. The dynamic worked, and our three days together were refreshing and enlivening.
Last trimester I went on one of our Quest retreats and found that to be a wonderful experience too. Quest is a long-time staple of the retreat program at Regis—first initiated in 1979. Many of our alumni point to their Quest retreat as a crucial part of their Regis experience.
I’m a firm believer in the importance of a robust retreat program at Jesuit schools, and not only is Regis not an exception to that belief, but I think it may even be more important at Regis where our students are so engaged in their daily intellectual pursuits in and out of the classroom.
Faith is neither something separate from intellect, nor is it intended to simply supplement it. St. Ignatius believes that God can and should be found in all things, and our students can and should be able to find God in calculus and physics just as they can find God in theology class or on retreat. But we know it isn’t always that simple. Life is filled with so many distractions.
Just as the disciples walking to Emmaus were so distracted that they didn’t notice it was Jesus who joined them on their walk and only recognized him in the breaking of the bread; it was when they stopped to reflect that they realize how their hearts were burning within as they journeyed to Emmaus with him. Reflection is an essential element for being able to recognize Jesus walking alongside of us. And our regular lives, and certainly the lives of our students, don’t provide us with those opportunities often enough.
Of course, St. Ignatius also prescribes the regular practice of a daily Examen
to reflect on how God journeys with us during the course of the day, but nothing should replace the practice of regular time of retreat either.
Fr. Jim Croghan has been working with a group of parents to develop both prayer and retreat opportunities for parents, and we need to look to do the same for our alumni. Spiritual formation doesn’t end with high school, it just begins.
Our retreat program at Regis is alive and well, but I suspect it needs expansion to provide an annual retreat experience for every student during each of his four years. We currently only require a retreat freshman and sophomore year. It is often those students who don’t sign up for a voluntary retreat who might benefit the most from the experience. The retreats touch us at a deep level because that is how God touches us.
Thank you for your support of our mission. Our retreat program, like everything at Regis, is only possible through the generous support of our alumni, families and friends.
I pray that on your own journey you have the opportunity to recognize our Lord walking along your side. God bless.
Daniel K. Lahart, SJ