Class Retreats

Following the example of Christ, “who would often slip away to the wilderness to pray” (Luke 5:16), SJCS offers each student the chance to step away from the routine of daily life in order to “go up on a mountainside to pray” (Matthew 14:23) during the annual class retreat. These retreats are meant to be, above all, experiences of communion, charity, and joy where students can hear and see how Jesus of Nazareth brings new life to those who follow Him. Retreats offer students a space of freedom in which to hear and respond to Christ’s call. The retreats take place off-campus and are tailored to the human and spiritual needs of each age group.senior mission trip

6th Grade Retreat
“Whatever you do for the least of these my brothers and sisters…” (Matthew 25:40)
The 6th grade class participates in a day-long retreat at the end of the year led by freshmen and sophomore retreat leaders at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Simpsonville, SC. The theme of the 6th grade retreat is taken from the “Parable of the Sheep and the Goats”, where Christ gives the criteria for being his true follower: “Whatever you do for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do for me” (Matthew 25:40). The motto of this retreat (clearly chosen by high school team leaders) is “I don’t wanna be a goat, man! I wanna be a sheep, dude!” and the goal of the retreat is to share the importance of charity and prayer as the heart of what it means to follow Jesus Christ. The 2016 6th Grade Retreat will be held on May 9.
7th Grade Retreat

In the 2014-2015 school year SJCS began offering Parent and Student Retreats in an effort to create a time and place where the whole family could share life alongside other families and hear the gospel message proclaimed anew. These retreats are offered to 7th grade and 10th grade families, and are led jointly by a team of administrators, the chaplain, and the campus minister.

This retreat is held on a Sunday afternoon in the spring at Pleasant Ridge Camp and Retreat in Marietta, SC. The theme is determined according to the theme for the school year, which for 2015-2016 is “Consider the birds of the air”. The retreat includes activities for the whole family, as well as a separate track for parents. Childcare is offered so that parents with young children may attend. The 2016 7th Grade Parent and Student Retreat will be held on Sunday, April 10th.

8th Grade Retreat
“Make our hearts like yours”
This is the first overnight retreat offered to SJCS students and it takes place in the early spring at Pleasant Ridge Camp and Retreat in Marietta, SC. The retreat is led by the campus minister and sophomore and junior retreat leaders and has the theme of “Make our hearts like yours”, from the ancient prayer of the Church: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto yours.” In Jesus Christ we discover the fullness of what it means to be human, and the path that we may follow to have life to the full ourselves. He reveals that this path is one of self-giving, for Jesus’ lived entirely for others. 8th Graders are at an age where they begin to seek for their identity. At the 8th grade class retreat the students hear the proposal that our identity is found not in seeking ourselves, but in seeking the good of others. The 2016 8th grade retreat will take place on March 20-21.
9th Grade Retreat
“Jesus, looking upon Him, loved him…” (Mark 10:21)
Each year, before fall break, all SJCS freshmen travel to Look Up Lodge in Travelers Rest, SC, for the annual 9th grade retreat. This overnight retreat is led by senior retreat leaders, the freshmen teachers, and the campus minister. The theme of the retreat is the “Gaze of Christ”. There was something in the way Jesus of Nazareth looked at the men, women, and children he encountered that had the power to transform their lives. He beheld others not as objects, or as annoyances, but as sons and daughters of His Father in Heaven. He looked into the eyes of the most destitute and his gaze filled them with hope. He looked into the eyes of the powerful and arrogant and his eyes were a sign that there was something much more to life than power and success. He looked into the eyes of sinners with mercy. How does he look at me, now, in 9th grade? We meet this gaze of Jesus in the 21st century not in a mystical, abstract way, but in the eyes of people in our lives who are full of the presence of Christ, in whom Christ lives and acts and speaks. Who are these people for me? These are just some of the questions asked on the annual freshmen retreat.
10th Grade Retreat

In the 2014-2015 school year SJCS began offering Parent and Student Retreats in an effort to create a time and place where the whole family could share life alongside other families and hear the gospel message proclaimed anew. These retreats are offered to 7th grade and 10th grade families, and are led jointly by a team of administrators, the chaplain, and the campus minister.

Parents of our sophomore class are invited to attend the Sunday afternoon portion of the 10th grade retreat, which takes place in the late winter at Pleasant Ridge Camp and Retreat in Marietta, SC. The theme is determined according to the theme for the school year, which for 2015-2016 is “Consider the birds of the air” (link to School year theme webpage). The retreat includes activities for the whole family, as well as a separate track for parents. Childcare is offered so that parents with young children may attend. The 2016 10th Grade Parent and Student Retreat will be held on Sunday, February 28th (students stay overnight and continue the retreat on the 29th).

11th Grade Retreat: Kairos
The 11th Graders are offered the opportunity to participate in the longest, most high-impact retreat offered at SJCS: the Kairos Retreat.

Kairos, or “God’s Time,” is a three-day, two-night getaway retreat held off campus in the autumn for high school students in their junior year.  This retreat, “unplugged” from daily distractions, is a unique and powerful experience which serves to deepen the student’s relationship with their classmates, themselves, and God.

The student led retreat features student and staff speakers, discussion groups, and a variety of prayer experiences. Kairos has consistently and profoundly impacted students on both an individual and communal level. A fun and memorable experience, Kairos is, for many, the highlight of the student’s high school years.

Questions regarding the retreat should be directed to SJCS faculty member and Kairos Advisor Julie Schroeder at jschroeder@sjcatholicschool.org.

Student Testimonials from the Class of 2016 Group Leaders:

  • “Kairos was a time where I was able to forget about the rest of the world and focus on my relationship with God, my relationship with my classmates, and my relationship with myself. It was in every sense of the word Kairos, it was God’s time.” -Rhett Baker
  • “Kairos is a life-changing experience.  It gave me the strength to take an extra step in my faith and that is something that every high schooler needs. I will forever cherish the bonds that I created with my classmates during those three days.” –Margaret Utecht
  • “Kairos is a once in a lifetime experience that I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on. It not only changed my life, but I truly saw the influence it had on my class as a whole.”-Mark Williams
  • “Kairos completely changed the way I look at life. Watching my friends and classmates be moved by what we all encountered was the most amazing thing in the world. The happiness I received while at Kairos is something I will carry for the rest of my life.” –Mary Sloan Morris
  • “The Kairos Retreat was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that allowed me to see God in all of my classmates and to grow deeper in my faith.”-Lauren Jones
  • “Kairos is an amazing retreat that everyone should experience. Kairos allowed me to grow in my faith, and transformed my relationships with classmates into friendships.”- Kristen Kauffman
  • “Kairos wasn’t just a regular retreat, it was an experience that changed my life, changed my relationship with my friends, and ultimately strengthened my relationship with God.”-Mattie Dew
  • “Kairos is an experience that I will always remember. Taking a weekend away from the craziness of life and focusing on your relationship with God and your friendships is extremely important and life changing.”-Michaela Biske
  • “Kairos showed me that God is in everyone. Through that I created a bond with my class and I am proud to call them my brothers and sisters.”-Ken Lava
12th Grade Retreat
“More inward than my innermost self…” St. Augustine
The senior retreat, which takes place at Look Up Lodge in Travelers Rest, SC, early in the school year, focuses on knowledge of self as a path to knowing God and his will. The seniors take a kind of personality test and learn about the strengths and opportunities of their personalities, as well as the make-up of their class and their compatibility with others. Along with knowledge of self, the students are confronted with the need to accept oneself and one’s life as a gift from the Father, and to look toward their future as a path toward fulfillment in self-giving: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).