CCC Retreat Programme:
Sixth years have a retreat in September, which includes an element of choice. In September 2006, the programme was as follows
• A two-day retreat based in the Diocesan pastoral centre, facilitated by Mr. Gerry Keegan. This retreat focuses on the statements ‘You are special’ and ‘You are loved by God.’ Gerry tells of his own faith journey, which was troubled by alcoholism amongst other struggles. He does this as a gifted storyteller and musician. The retreat involves exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and prayer.
• A two day retreat in the Limrick Pastoral Centre, led by theology graduate Cornelia O’Brien. The foucus is on journey, involving meditation and creativity with clay modelling.
• An overnight retreat in Esker retreat house in Athenry, Co. Galway. This retreat focuses on relationships (with oneself, others and God.) The retreat includes reconciliation and liturgy.
• An retreat in La Salle Pastoral Centre, Co Laois. This retreat focuses on self-awareness and uniqueness of the individual. Some leadership skill are introduced and developed. The retreat includes meditation and liturgy.
• The retreat programme comes to an end with the celebration of Mass in the school on Sunday evening. During this Mass, partly celebrated by candlelight we heard about the different experiences.
Fourth years have one day retreats using the Limerick Pastoral Centres own retreat team. The theme of the retreat is ‘Gift’.
Third years had a one-day retreat in January. This retreat is facilitated by Gerry Keegan (who takes part in the sixth year retreat programme.)
Second years had a one-day retreat during Lent, given by the school Chaplain. This focused on ‘My image of God and my image of myself’. This involved discussion and individual reflection. The pupils shared their own experiences of prayer and were introduced to different prayer types.
First years had a half-day retreat in the first term, given by the school chaplain and two theology graduates. Each class is split into 3 groups and engage in workshops on Myself, Friendship and School. The focus is transition. The pupils are given the opportunity to share their experience of the changes the encounter on joining secondary school. There was also an opportunity to think about the class group they are in and are given ideas on how to include others. The morning ends with a short prayer service.
Parents and Staff are invited to become involved in retreat during Lent. This retreat is ‘a retreat in daily life’ and the participants committed to one half hour private prayer in a day as well as a half an hour with a spiritual guide. This retreat is open to all and does’nt presume a strong faith.
5th Years have the Social Outreach Programme and the Kairos Retreat.
Crescent Social Outreach Programme :
Fr. Dermot Murray and Eamon Stack who was a scholastic here in Crescent established the social outreach programme in 1988. It was felt strongly that social justice issues needed to have a more central role in the faith development programmes in the school. This was inspired by the Jesuit ideal of promoting a faith that does justice. Eamon played a key role in structuring the programme and was ably assisted by Dermot King and Fr. Rory Halpin who were also here as a scholastics. The emphasis initially was on the poor and the disadvantaged. Fr. Jim Maher became involved peripherally and was invited to take charge of the area completely.
All of the fifth years are involved in the programme. Jim sees all of the students on a rotation basis before they go on their social placement. This gives him an opportunity to meet and get to know students, assess their suitability for appropriate placements and, to prepare them theoretically and specifically for experience. A letter is sent home and a survey is conducted to ascertain preferences of students. The programme has links with: –
• The disabled
• Disadvantaged young people and the district court
• The elderly
• The homeless
• Those coping with addiction.
• Early school leavers
The placement lasts from between one and three days. Prior to going on placement the students will have had a discussion with Jim and other members of staff regarding what to expect, their emotions and reactions and how they might deal with this. The students are visited while on placement by their teacher-supervisors.
The initial preparation is clearly very structured and contextualized and this mirrors the experience of the Ignatian Spiritual exercises. A crucial element then is that the student reflects on the experience. When they return to school, students submit a report. The focus of the report is on the affective, in other words how the experience affected their hearts and their responses. The student is expected to talk to the class about the experience, and the point is to change attitudes.
The response from placements is always very positive. In fact students have returned consistently to some places on a voluntary basis, and CCC students are the backbone of the Enable Ireland Summer camps each year.
The Social Placement programme is now an essential, and mandatory component of the education a student receives in a Jesuit School.
There have been difficulties in recent years in relation to placements. These are a reflection of some of the changes in society for example. Garda clearance is required in one and Hepatitis shots in another. There is a lot of intensive and continuous work needed to ensure the success of the programme.
The Kairos Retreat Programme is another integral part of the pastoral development of the students. Established in 2008, the programme is a voluntary retreat offered to Fifth Year students in their first term. Initially the retreat catered for approximately forty students but in 2013 demand led to the establishment of two retreats to cater for the numbers applying.
Kairos means ‘God’s Time’ and it is an opportunity for students to explore their faith, specifically focussing on their relationship with God. Issues such as Virtue, Leadership, and Relationships form the core element of the retreat with inputs from teachers and past pupils bearing witness to where God is in their lives. The experiential elements are complimented by various liturgical components.
Post retreat monthly meetings continue for the students for the remainder of their time in the school where they have an opportunity to further develop and consolidate their relationships with themselves, with each other and with God.
The appeal of the retreat for young people is evidenced by the numbers applying and two retreats are planned for the forthcoming academic year.
The current retreat directors are Dermot Cowhey, Jen Condon, Ann Guinee while the spiritual director is Fr. Michael McGuckian S.J.