Article by Olivia Carmody ’23:
“You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have” – A Reflection on the Junior Retreat Staff
Just before the break, almost 40 juniors came together to revive a Kellenberg tradition that had to take a pause due to Covid: Junior Retreat Staff. The retreat’s purpose was to prepare us to help lead the freshman retreats this spring. Although most of us had heard each other’s names before or seen each other’s faces in the hallway, our overnight retreat brought us together through fun, food, and most importantly, faith.
We were introduced to the phrase, “You can’t give what you don’t have.” During adoration, Wednesday night, part of Mark 5 was read aloud. A crowd had gathered around Jesus and people were being pressed against him but one woman with a disease touched him purposefully. She hoped she would be healed of her illness. Even though there was a crowd around him, Jesus turned and said “Who touched my garments?” The woman presented herself to Jesus in fear and trembling and told him the truth. In his goodness, Jesus affirmed, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” In the presence of the Lord, we had the chance to bring up our candle and touch a cloak, bringing whatever cross we had to the Lord. I felt at peace during the Holy Hour knowing that the Lord can cure anything. We have to seek Him first though. Through Scripture, we hear God’s voice. God wants us to open our hearts and come to Him, even if that means coming to Him broken and trembling like the woman in the story.
Just like the Lord calls us to come as we are, Mr. O’Brien spoke to us a few days before retreat and invited us to come as we are – with all our differences. He explained it as “I am who I am and you are who you are.” Although we all came from different homerooms, academic tracks, clubs and activities, we all had at least one thing in common: we were all juniors called to share our faith. I wanted to keep that in mind throughout my time on retreat. Like I mentioned before, I knew most of the people by face and name, but not all personally. I talked to many people I had never spoken to and enjoyed new conversations and friendships. I think it is very important to meet people where they are and keep your mind open to what they have to bring to the table. Sitting together at meals gave an instant community feel. We shared good food and laughter with those we haven’t before. We also now share a common goal of guiding the freshmen. I found that through prayer and friendship there was a community formed which is a beautiful thing.
There were many inspiring talks given to us. Miss Doodian had been guided by juniors on her freshman retreat, was on junior retreat staff and now teaches at Kellenberg. Her story shows the fruits of becoming involved. She told us that we all have different gifts to use every day. Mr. VonElm and Bro. Pat shared personal stories which were impactful in different ways. Mr. VonElm reminded us that we are “Too blessed to be stressed” and Bro. Pat expressed that we might not know what the Lord has in store for us, or we may think we do not want it, but He knows what is best for us. We were lucky to have Kellenberg graduates, Fr. James Hansen ‘07 and Fr. John Crozier ‘11, celebrate Mass for us on Wednesday and Thursday as a start to the day. It reset me for the day and gave me the reminder of the importance of the Eucharist, the food for our souls. They both gave beautiful and insightful homilies. I appreciate the wisdom that comes with age, and as I get older, I realize how important it is to just listen and reflect. As if this wasn’t enough to make a great two days, we had so much fun together, whether that was on the trampoline dodgeball court, skipping rocks on Fire Island, or having sing-a-longs on the bus rides. I am looking forward to seeing all of us share our faith and knowledge with the freshmen on their retreats.