Archbishop Mitty High School offers several student-led overnight retreats for each grade level, helping youth deepen their relationships with family and peers while strengthening their faith.
Each year, more than 1,000 students, who are the future of the Church, participate in freshman Awakenings, sophomore Agape, junior Quest, and senior Kairos retreats, taking two to three days away from campus for reflection. Many also participate in the LIFE Corps workshop, where they prepare to be leaders in their school community.
“It’s a unique thing that Catholic schools can offer that public schools just can’t do in the same way,” said Bill Kroenung, the Campus Ministry Associate for Retreats.
For the freshman, sophomore, and senior retreats, students gather at the Redwood Glen Camp & Conference Center or at the Presentation Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Juniors travel more than 50 miles south to the Saint Francis Retreat Center, located in rural San Juan Bautista. Holding retreats off campus, away from home or school, is important, explained Kroenung.
“I think you think differently in a new place,” Kroenung said. “It gets them away from thinking of the stress of school.”
The retreats are student-led, so youth hear directly from their peers. Students attending freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior retreats listen to reflections written and delivered by seniors. During the senior Kairos retreat, the students hear reflections from their own classmates, recent alumni, and three adult leaders.
At each retreat, the sense of fellowship is further solidified when students join together for a Mass led by Father James Okafor, AMHS Chaplain. Fr. James leads Mass at every retreat held during the school year and attends each Kairos in its entirety as an adult leader. By participating in retreats, students experience a magnified version of the sense of community they feel on campus.
“I think they learn that everyone has a story,” Kroenung said. “And they realize that they’re not alone in their struggles and that there are other people out there struggling with the same issues they are.”