Final senior retreat approaches

Witka reflects on another successful year


Tommy Callaghan

Seniors who attend retreat receive a cross to wear to remind them of their retreat experience.

Erin O'Neill, Reporter

For many students in their final year of high school, senior retreat is viewed as a rite of passage. It’s a popular tradition that the majority of seniors choose to partake in and for the Class of 2018, their final opportunity to take advantage of this experience is quickly approaching.

Director of Campus Ministry Mrs. Charlene Witka said, “Seniors should go on retreat if they haven’t already to help them grow in their spiritual life and also to be a part of a big part of what you experience as a senior. It’s a senior event that I don’t think they should miss and they get to know their classmates better on a deeper level.”

Senior Andrew Umana would agree. He said, “Senior retreat was one of the best experiences of my life.”

However, like many seniors, Umana explained he was uncertain what he was going into prior to attending. He said, “I was super unsure of retreat at first because it is so secretive and none of my three older siblings who had been on senior retreat would tell me anything about it.”

Senior Olivia Makara described how she was “nervous but excited” before going on senior retreat in November. She said, “It ended up being a really great experience and I enjoyed everything and all the people I got to know better. I felt so loved by the people around me and I was so happy I went.

Umana added, “I felt very refreshed and happy after retreat. It’s an amazing experience for everyone.”

Witka explained that nerves are nothing to worry about when it comes to retreat. She said, “My thing is that if you’re nervous, that means the Holy Spirit is working inside you. It’s OK to be nervous because you’re coming into an unknown situation. But that’s one of the beauties of retreat, to see the transformation of a student who’s nervous and then comes away from it going, oh my gosh, I had nothing to be nervous about. It’s part of the transformation of an individual.

As for underclassmen who will go on senior retreat in the future, Makara said, “They should know that it’s a great experience, but it’s different for every person. They have to experience it for themselves. Don’t go into it thinking everything you’ve heard about it for the past three years. You should try to have an open mind and be willing to grow closer with your classmates in a unique way.”

Underclassmen should also know that, according to Witka, senior retreat is another one of the many blessings afforded students.

She said, “The senior retreat is a gift and it will always be with you. It’s one of those lifelong connections that connect people to each other and not just to your own class, but also to the outside community.”

Witka also said she feels senior retreat is “a gift that keeps on giving” because everyone who attends senior retreat will be invited back later to work a retreat after they have graduated, when they are in college.

She added, “That’s my philosophy. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving and why would you want to refuse a gift that is given to you by your classmates and your school?”

While Witka has never had every member of a class go on senior retreat and receive these “gifts” in her time at Cathedral, she has come very close.

She said, “We usually have about 17 to 20 kids that don’t go.” Witka explained that Principal Mr. Dave Worland would like the whole senior class to go on retreat, and he is putting forth an effort by contacting students to help make that happen. “It’s supported my administration,” she added.

For Witka, despite having been involved with these retreats for nearly two decades, senior retreat is a diamond that will never lose its sparkle.

She said, “I’ve been doing senior retreats for 18 years and I am just as passionate about it as I was the first time I did it because each retreat gives me an opportunity to meet more students at a very personal level. People always say, “Don’t you get tired of it?” Never. I don’t. It’s hard getting there sometimes, but I don’t ever get tired of it once I’m there.”

With the final senior retreat opportunity of this school year right around the corner, Makara said, “I think everyone should go because you can grow closer with people and it’s a special part of the senior year experience.”

She added, “If for nothing else, go (on retreat) to get out of class, and stay for the love and the people around you.”