Retreats offer opportunities for students to take time away from school to focus on relationships with God, self, and others.
Through experiential dynamics, talks, small group discussions, personal and communal prayer experiences, liturgy, and recreation (think ropes courses and mini-Olympics), students are encouraged to open themselves to grow as young men rooted in faith and community, who are called to serve others.
The focus of the retreats advance according to grade. Freshmen are brought into a sense of Christian community as a place of belonging where formative relationships develop. Sophomores are challenged to look within so that they may discover their gifts, talents, and value. Juniors focus on awareness of their giftedness, as well as the needs of others, especially the poor and the marginalized. Seniors are challenged to become servant leaders within the school, the Church, their families, and the world.
All seventh graders participate in a day-long retreat in the fall that provides an opportunity to develop relationships with their classmates, as well as better understand the greater Xaverian community. Hale Reservation provides a beautiful backdrop for a day filled with recreation, small-group dynamics, and discussion. The day is facilitated by seventh grade teachers, administrators, and the campus ministry team, and is an opportunity to further welcome and get to know the newest members of the Xaverian community.
In the fall, eighth graders are invited to attend an optional overnight retreat that explores what it means to be a part of the Xaverian community and to work toward the Xaverian Brothers’ founder Theodore James Ryken’s vision of being “a band of brothers who mutually help, encourage, and edify one another, and who work together.” Through small group dynamics and discussion, as well as talks presented by high school leaders, and even simple recreation time, the participants develop friendships and community.
In the spring, members of the seventh and eighth grade are invited to attend an optional overnight retreat that seeks to further develop existing relationships and community dynamics within members of the FXD program. Facilitated by the campus ministry team and led by high school leaders, participants explore the meaning of the Xaverian Brothers’ motto, “Concordia res parvæ crescent; In harmony small things grow” through a variety of large- and small-group activities and discussion.
Before orientation and the first day of classes begin, all freshmen attend the Freshman Day of Awareness at Hale Reservation. This retreat provides an opportunity for all of the freshmen to get to know one another, to begin to develop new friendships, and to deepen existing ones. In addition to the faculty, administrators, and campus ministry team members, junior and senior “Big Hawks” help to facilitate small-group dynamics and conversation, share their own personal stories of their Xaverian experience, and participate with the freshmen in the ropes courses that Hale offers. It is a full day, complete with a barbecue lunch that helps the freshmen feel integrated into the community and provides them with the support and resources to be successful in all aspects of life at Xaverian.
Each year in the spring, the campus ministry team sponsors an optional overnight retreat open to all freshmen and sophomores, which focuses on building the Xaverian community through prayer and sharing of life experience. In this experience, participants find that, as expressed in the Fundamental Principles of the Xaverian Brothers, “your love and friendship within the community [is] one of the chief joys with which God blesses you.” The retreat is led by members of the junior class, who offer their perspective and insight about their Xaverian experience. Large- and small-group dynamics, presentations, prayer services, and plenty of recreation time offer all participants the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with one another while also focusing on their personal relationship with Jesus.
Throughout the fall and winter, all members of the sophomore class participate in the Sophomore Faith Experience, an overnight retreat set in Cape Cod. Coordinated by the campus ministry team and led by trained senior peer ministers, sophomores have ample time for recreation, reflection, relaxation, and community building. Seniors provide talks focusing on their relationships with God, self, and others that help center the various small group dynamics and discussion, as well as provide meaningful background for sacramental and prayer experiences. Students are encouraged to more deeply understand their gifts and talents, as well as the gifts and talents of their classmates, and to use them to serve others - continuing to build the Xaverian community through involvement and leadership in athletic, extracurricular, and campus ministry programs in the “common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life.”
The campus ministry team sponsors a three-day, two-night retreat in the fall that builds on the themes of the Freshman Sophomore Retreat, while also integrating many of the themes discussed in the junior theology course. With the guidance of senior leaders, campus ministers, and guest faculty speakers, junior participants explore the significance of their relationship with Jesus, their gifts and talents, and their role as servant leaders within the Xaverian community. Small and large group dynamics provide the opportunity for all members of the retreat to focus on the Xaverian Brothers’ goal to “affirm your brothers and sisters in their gifts, for by doing so you enable them to realize the gifts that God has given them for service.”
Juniors are invited to apply to participate in the annual Xaverian Pilgrimage to Italy (XPI) which takes place in mid-June. Recognizing that a pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, participants meet prior to the trip for small- and large-group formation meetings and table fellowship. While in Italy, the students are led by experienced faculty and alumni leaders who facilitate discussions and present on relevant topics to the pilgrimage. Participants travel to important cultural and religious sites in Rome, Siena, Assisi, and San Gimignano. Following busy days in Rome, the pilgrims are welcomed to the hospitality of the Augustinian friars in San Gimignano, staying in their convento (built in 1280), and enjoying the slower, more reflective pace and the opportunity for service. In this way, the participants are offered the chance to, as the founder of the Xaverian Brothers did, “turn to God, fall in love with God, and put [themselves] in God’s service.”
In February, all seniors are invited to attend this optional overnight retreat which provides an opportunity to “prayerfully reflect on the past, assess the present, and ponder the future with one another.” Small groups are self-selected and student facilitated, with all members taking responsibility for different aspects of the retreat. Through faculty and campus ministry presentations, large and small group dynamics, and ample time for personal reflection, the seniors develop practical ways to prepare for their future following graduation, while also living in the present and experiencing gratitude for their past experiences within the Xaverian community.
An indispensable extension of Xaverian’s robust SpiritHawk program, members of grades 9-12 are invited to attend the Phase I and Phase II retreats, offered in the fall and spring. Set at the idyllic Craigville Conference Center, participants spend a weekend on Cape Cod where they have the opportunity to deepen their relationship with God and further develop their friendships. Through large- and small-group activities, SpiritHawk leader talks, prayer services, liturgy, and eucharistic adoration, all participants have the opportunity to reflect on the Christian call to service, discipleship, and servant leadership.
Each year, six juniors are selected by faculty and administration to attend the annual XBSS Retreat, which brings students from all 13 Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools together for a five-day overnight retreat. The focus of this retreat is on the legacy and charism of the Xaverian Brothers, and it provides an opportunity for participants from different areas of the country with different lifestyles to come together and recognize the greater unity all the XBSS schools share. As the students focus on the life of Theodore James Ryken, the founder of the Xaverian Brothers, they are encouraged to discover ways to bring their gifts, talents, and leadership abilities back to their schools and to “incarnate anew the vision of Theodore James Ryken and the charism of the Brothers of Saint Francis Xavier in the life of the world.”
XLI is an optional five-day overnight servant leadership retreat for rising seniors which takes place annually in August. Established in 1976, this retreat has become Xaverian’s flagship retreat and has received recognition at conferences - with good reason. It is no wonder that the majority of Xaverian students choose to participate! Facilitated by the campus ministry team, the retreat is lead by faculty, staff, administration, and alumni. The theme of the retreat, “Responding to the Call,” encourages the participants to “stand ready to answer when asked if you are available for God to become more present in your life and through you to the world,” recognizing “that nothing special is achieved without much labor, effort, and zeal.” Through faculty and guest presentations, large- and small-group dynamics, and service opportunities, participants leave prepared to serve as servant leaders in the Xaverian community and beyond, while also recognizing their unique gifts, talents, and value.
The community in campus ministry is one that invites everyone, whether you are Catholic, you’re Orthodox Christian, or you’re Muslim. Whatever you are, it provides a space where everybody can come together and be able to share what they believe.
Xaverian is a Catholic, college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7-12. As an inclusive community, we embrace diverse experiences and perspectives, welcoming students and families from all faiths and backgrounds. Through exceptional academics, athletics, the arts, faith formation, and service opportunities, we help young men discover their unique gifts and talents so they can share them with a world in need.