It’s often said that young people these days aren’t interested in their faith or religious issues. But a group of senior students from seven Good Samaritan Colleges have challenged that stereotype.
Despite the heavy schedule and pressures of Year 12, the 25 students – all girls – responded to an invitation to attend a weekend retreat offered by the Good Samaritan Education Mission Team in Sydney last month (February 24-26). While many of the girls came from colleges in New South Wales, some even travelled from Victoria and Queensland.
For 17 year-old Gabi Griggs from St Patrick’s College, Campbelltown, who hopes to study medicine next year, making time to have a break away from the stress of Year 12 is necessary and valuable.
“I think it’s just great to step back and just relax and be at peace and reconnect with God,” she said.
It’s Gabi’s belief that “if you have faith it helps you be clear; it helps your mind”.
According to Monica Dutton, a member of the Good Samaritan Education Mission Team, Gabi’s sentiments are indicative of many students who attended the retreat.
“Many commented on how much they appreciated the time out from the stresses of Year 12 and really appreciated taking the time to be still and to find space for reflection and peace in their lives,” said Monica.
Like a number of students at the retreat, Gabi was part of a contingent from Good Samaritan Colleges who last year participated in the International Benedictine Youth Congress (IBYC) and World Youth Day (WYD) events in Spain.
Monica said the retreat, which explored the theme “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way” (Rule of St Benedict, 4), was a follow-up experience for students who had travelled to Spain and also for those who had participated in other programs offered by the Good Samaritan Mission Team over the past year.
During the retreat the students engaged in a range of activities that included prayer and lectio divina, personal reflection and discussions on various topics. Benedictine Priest, Father David Orr from Arcadia celebrated Mass and the girls also participated in morning prayer with the sisters in the Pennant Hills community.
“The retreat was an amazing experience!” said Gabi.
“It was also a great way to meet some new faces, and catch up with some old friends whom I haven’t seen in six months since WYD Spain. The retreat was a time of laughter, reminiscing and sharing of stories from WYD and also discussing major world issues and how we can help as we become adults.”
Since returning from her IBYC and WYD experiences, Gabi has remained in contact with fellow pilgrims even though some live interstate.
“These girls are the most down-to-earth girls I’ve met. They have amazing faith and they’re good friends. They became sisters to me,” she explained.
Gabi said it was a “spiritual connectedness” that created the bond with these students.
“Four of my close friends one night… decided to do lectio divina – talking about the Gospel – and after that night, that’s when we clicked, because of that spiritual connectedness,” she explained.
“Not many girls these days want to talk about faith, but these girls really, really wanted to.”