Retreats play an important role in the faith formation of students at Seattle Prep. Broken up by grade level, retreats offer students the chance to spend uninterrupted time with their classmates (often with at least one overnight component) and participating in a variety of activities: taking part in community building exercises; doing service work for local non-profits; discussions about how spirituality factors into our lives; and lots of fun activities like ropes courses, paintball, talent shows, and more.
While some are mandatory and some are optional, students have the opportunity to attend at least one retreat every year. Our alumni often cite retreats as some of their most cherished memories at Prep, and the vast majority of each grade choose to participate in optional retreats.
- Freshman Retreat
- Urban Plunge
- Young Women's Retreat
- Young Men's Retreat
- Senior Pilgrimage
The Freshman Retreat is designed to foster community and fun among the freshman class. We feel strongly that this retreat touches Seattle Prep’s mission to educate the heart as well as the mind. As such, this is a mandatory retreat for all 9th graders.
This retreat takes place in late January, starting Thursday night and continuing until Saturday midday. The Freshman Retreat is planned and implemented by the Community Ministry Team and a select group of juniors and seniors leaders (50 in all). Retreat activities include small group time, Christian Service, fun time, prayer, an overnight at Prep and a Catholic Mass.
The Sophomore Urban Plunge is a 24 hour mandatory retreat that is a chance for 10th graders to “plunge” into the wider community and participate in community service. Students stay overnight at Prep, participate in community building activities, cook a meal for those in need, and spend time at a social service agency doing community service with marginalized groups followed by reflection and prayer.
Goals of Urban Plunge
- Build community: prayer, Sunday Mass, small group discussions, working and doing service together
- Christian service: An introduction to the marginalized of our world, community service at two social service agencies, small and large group reflection and prayer.
- Have fun: Icebreakers and activities
Why do you have the Urban Plunge Retreat?
The Mission of the School is to help students become women and men for others. Our Catholic/Christian duty is to help young people understand and help the poor and marginalized in our world. The Urban Plunge Service retreat is an effective way to introduce our sophomores to the ideals of service and help them to discover their role in giving back to society.
I understand the students will be going to shelters and other service sites, how do you ensure the safety of my child?
All social service sites that Seattle Prep visits on the Urban Plunge retreat have been pre-screened and have site-supervisors who are familiar with the Urban Plunge experience and who monitor all activities. In addition, part of the retreat involves a safety training where students are briefed and safety and acquire and practice skills for helping others while maintaining healthy boundaries. In addition, there will be a Prep faculty, staff or parent chaperone with students at all times while they are at their service placements.
What is the simulated shelter all about?
As noted above, one of the goals of the Urban Plunge retreat is to give students a lived experience of urban poverty, including the uncertainty and discomfort that comes from sleeping in communal space, using screening criteria and facilities similar to those used at shelters throughout Seattle. After mass Sunday evening, students line up and are checked into a simulated shelter. This process is intended to give the students some insight into what hundreds of homeless people go through each night accessing shelter.
Urban Plunge groups frequently volunteer with the following organizations:
- Aloha Inn
- The Blaine Center
- Cascade Women’s Center
- Compass Center
- First Place School
- Francis House
- Full Life Care
- Hammond House
- Home step House
- Jesuit Volunteer Corps
- L’arche Community
- Mary’s Place
- Matt Talbot Center
- Northwest Harvest
- Operation Sack Lunch
- Roy Street Shelter
- St. Martin’s on Westlake
- Tent City 3
- Tent City 4
- Union Gospel Mission – Hope Place
- YWCA-Angeline’s Day Center
The mission of the Young Women’s retreat is “to assist each young woman to find the strength, confidence and empowerment she needs to follow her dreams; to find her inner beauty and own her unique gifts.” This retreat is designed specifically for the sophomore young woman as she faces the challenge to be a strong woman in today’s world. The retreat centers on student talks and challenges, small group sharing, and team building activities (high ropes course, horseback riding and paint ball). The topics addressed on the retreat include building a better body image, growing in our self confidence, sexism awareness, holistic women’s health , understanding emotion regulation, building healthy relationships, managing our stress and building on our spiritual faith life. The retreat is led by Jolene Boyle, LMHC and Rachel Ford, MSW.
Why have a Young Women’s retreat?
Seattle Prep believes in the holistic education of its students. The Young Men’s and Young Women’s Retreats, offered to sophomore boys and girls respectively, provides students a chance to explore coming-of-age issues that affect each gender. This is Seattle Prep’s one gender-exclusive retreat, and this setting enables us to explore topics not possible in a mixed gender environment.
Issues explored on the Young Women’s retreat include, but are not limited to:
- Body Image/Self-Confidence/Self-Esteem
- Holistic Women’s Health Concerns
- Healthy Coping Skills
- Role Models
- Building Community
Does any follow-up happen after the retreat?
There is a follow-up meeting a month after the retreat. The small groups that form on the retreat often continue meeting informally after the retreat with and without their small group leader. Students are also invited to continue their retreat experience by attending weekly mass at Prep. Students can check out of their liturgy/study hall and attend mass in the Healy Chapel on liturgy days.
The Young Men’s Retreat’s goal is to help sophomore boys grow in maturity and purpose. The retreat will center on adult and student talks, small group sharing, and fun activities such as a ropes course and paintballing. The retreat is optional.
Why have the Young Men’s Retreat?
Seattle Prep believes in the holistic education of its students. The Young Men’s and Young Women’s retreats, offered to sophomore boys and girls, provide students a chance to explore coming of age issues that affect each gender. This is Seattle Prep’s one gender exclusive retreat, and this setting enables us to explore and grow areas of life that are not possible in a mixed gender environment.
Issues explored on the Young Men’s Retreat are:
- What does it mean to be a man?
- What are stereotypes of males?
- How do these stereotypes help/hurt men?
- What is the difference between a boy and a man?
- Who are good role models?
- What can/should we do about the behaviors that lead to these stereotypes?
There is a follow up meeting for those boys who attended the retreat a month afterwards.. Students are invited to continue their retreat experience by attending weekly mass at Prep. Students can check out of their liturgy/study hall and attend mass in the Healy Chapel on liturgy days
The retreat for 11th graders is called Kairos, and embodies the value of Christian faith as lived and experienced in community. During the three and a half day retreat, juniors are given the opportunity to step away from the hectic pace of everyday life to look within themselves to find their true worth as people in relationship with God, family and friends. The retreat involves hearing faith talks, small and large group sessions, prayer, mass and other retreat experiences.
While this is not a mandatory retreat, 95% of the class will attend one of the three Kairos retreats offered over the year.
What does "Kairos" mean?!
Kairos is a Greek word for time which is distinct from chronological time (Chronos). We call it God’s time or the “opportune moment.” We try to provide an experience where ordinary time is left behind. Students are asked to leave their cell phones and watches at home to help them enter this “time out of time.” Kairos is a popular retreat model nationally for Catholic High Schools and Universities.
What is the format of the retreat?
Much of what happens on Kairos is a surprise, but our goal is to encourage students in their spiritual formation and how to become leaders in their own lives. Retreatants hear talks and participate in small group discussions. We include indoor and outdoor activities, so warm clothing is important. The retreat concludes with a mass.
My Family is not Catholic. What does my son or daughter need to know before going?
The short answer is nothing. The retreat is structured in such a way to deepen their own faith life, all are welcome to participate at their own level of comfort. Please feel free to contact any member of the Community Ministry team to discuss this or similar concerns.
Is there any follow up that happens after the retreat?
Students are invited to continue their retreat experience by attending weekly mass at Prep. Students can check out of their liturgy/study hall and attend mass in the Healy Chapel on liturgy days. Students are also invited to two separate reunions. One is held during lunch a month or so after the retreat, the second is held in the evening at Prep.
The Senior Pilgrimage Retreat happens each fall and, while optional, is attended by the majority of the senior class. This unique retreat helps students bond with fellow seniors, enjoy nature and become closer to God through quality time spent at camp. Seniors in the senior "Faith in Action" class help lead this retreat. The trip allows seniors to set individual goals for the year, emphasizes leadership and helps bond the senior class.
Activities include: hiking along trails at Treacy Levine Center, talks by fellow seniors, silent moments in nature, campfires, s’mores, a senior talent show, canoeing, Mass lead by the seniors. We finish the retreat with a boat cruise dance on Lake Union in Seattle.
What makes this retreat a "pilgrimage"?
The Senior Pilgrimage Retreat is a ten mile walk along trails in and around Camp Brotherhood near Arlington, WA. During the hike, we will stop along the way and hear talks from classmates and teachers. There will be periods of silence, laughter and connection. After the walk, Pilgrims will eat a good meal, celebrate Mass and join in a campfire. We will sleep that evening in cabins. The next morning will be filled with small and large group activities. The event will finish off with a boat cruise back in Seattle. Over 100 seniors participate each year.
A Pilgrimage is a journey that serves a religious purpose. Religious pilgrims have made treks all over the world, throughout history, for a few reasons: To worship, to seek spiritual aid, and/or to fulfill a promise. This Pilgrimage retreat is designed to help unite the senior class in a common experience at the beginning of the school year. It is designed to help facilitate leadership and common purpose, to help better the class to form community and for the senior class to reach out to help the rest of the school bond.
The Manresa retreat is a senior's last retreat at Seattle Prep. The retreat is based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus. The retreat provides an opportunity for seniors to end their time at Seattle Prep with intentionality and purpose. The retreat is filled with reflection, community building and bonding. The Spiritual Exercises are among the worlds most popular retreats and encourages people to take a deep look at their faith and future. Seniors who attend this retreat say it is their favorite retreat they have experienced at Prep. This is the last chance for seniors to get away from Prep and bond, have fun, and make the best of their last few months at Prep. The retreat is located at Seabeck Conference center on the Kitsap Peninsula. It is the "fanciest" retreat facility we use!
The Manresa Retreat is a capstone retreat of a student’s time at Seattle Prep. This is our most advanced retreat and helps student experience a modified version of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises Retreat. The goal of this retreat is to have a student come to know the love of God, even in his or her imperfection and the special plan God holds for her or him. This retreat gives students tools to advance their spiritual life as they transition to college and beyond.
What are the Spiritual Exercises?
The Spiritual Exercises Retreat was written by St. Ignatius’ of Loyola. It is one of the world’s most popular retreats. The Exercises’ are the corner stone of Jesuit spirituality and every Jesuit completes this 30 day silent retreat multiple times in his tenure. Seattle Prep, in consultation with other Jesuit high schools, has adapted this 30 day retreat to a 3 day retreat.
Manresa is led by trained seniors and adults who give talks based on the movements of the Spiritual Exercises. A unique part of the retreat is the prayerful silent time retreatants experience. Students get ample time to contemplate the themes of the retreat. Students experience both large and small groups.