The junior retreat is yet another rite of passage at Xavier.
This year's event was held at the appropriately named Wisdom House in Litchfield, a picturesque part of the state that on Friday still had a decent snow cover yet a comfortable temperature, lending a feeling of tranquility.
This year's theme: "An upperclassman's journey: Becoming a leader!" But beyond that, it is more specific, it's all about becoming a good Christian leader. The three-day event started Thursday evening and wraps up Saturday morning.
Friday's wake-up call came at 7:20 and there was a full day of activities, various sessions on how a good Christian leader models Jesus Christ, is a team player, sets realistic goals, takes responsibility for his actions, overcomes obstacles, and looks for God in every situation. There was also was a Mass later in the day as well as Stations of the Cross.
Mixed in were lunch and dinner and recreational activities, and lights out at 11:15 p.m. The day was long on meaning.
It started with religion teacher John Guinan leading morning prayer and talking about how a good Christian leader models Jesus Christ.
If you leave the word "Christian" out of the equation, leadership can be about power, wealth, getting ahead at any cost, stepping on whoever along the way.
But a good Christian leader forgets about himself and concentrates on others. It starts with the formation of your own character, Guinan explained, adding "Jesus was radical in instructing his followers ... he told them not what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear."
The first group setting of the day was an interesting challenge. The Xavier students were divided into small groups, given a bible passage and sent off with their leader, either Guinan, Brother Philip Revell, Brother John Sullivan, teacher David Applegate, Dean of Students Nick Cerreta or Assistant Director of Admissions Brendan Bell. They had about 20 minutes to come up with a skit to act out, using no words and no props. Just themselves and their imaginations. Everyone had to contribute.
They then came back together and acted them out, one small group at a time. The rest of the students had to guess what the Bible story was. Then a member of the group that had acted it out gave it a deeper explanation. The stories ranged from David and Goliath to the Prodigal Son and Saul's Conversion.
The kids got into acting out the various roles, so well that the audience was able to identify each story rather quickly.
"Great job with the verses," Director of Campus Ministry Peter Lyons told the juniors. "You got to the deeper meaning."