The retreat for the freshman class is a time to get to know each other and yourself. It is a time to get to know God and the Xaverian values. It is a time to learn about Xavier and the importance of service to others.
Nearly 30 Peer Ministers, now seniors, were helping with the retreat on Friday at Xavier. Out of this year’s group of freshmen a number will become Peer Ministers themselves in their senior year. They may not know it yet. They may not be moved to do so yet. Or maybe this retreat becomes a catalyst for that decision. And the cycle continues. Receive as a freshman, give back as a senior.
Religion teacher Brendan Bell ’05 talks to the freshmen about getting to know Xavier. There are things, as freshmen, you may not know or may not have seen. Said one freshman afterwards: “I had not seen the cross on the chapel.” Another: “I had not noticed the words in the lobby, ‘The Xaverian Brothers welcome you.’ ”
Many of the freshmen were here in person; some were home attending virtually. Brother Philip Revell, C.F.X., worked with some in a virtual setting on the Xaverian values in a back-and-forth discussion.
“Putting other people and their needs as being more important than the things we want in life … our faith, our Christianity tells us to put other people first, and the way in which we might exercise humility might be compassion,” Brother Philips says.
He asks one of the freshman remote learners to talk about compassion; the response is: “Feeling pain with others … empathy.”
“Excellent,” says Brother Philip, “meaning you can hear and see the world as others do.”
Senior peer minister Wes Harris remembers his freshman retreat: “I made friends I feel very close to today so it was very worthwhile, and I am glad to help out and maybe help connect future best friends. I also learned a lot about Xavier history and mission and values.”
He also learned a lot about service, which some of the peer ministers, including Harris, talked about later in the day. Who do I serve? How do I serve? Why do I serve? From the Ryken Service Society to the Peer Ministry program to mission trips to Guatemala or Camden, N.J., the opportunities are endless.