The Year 12 Retreat Journey

Our deepest wishes are whispers of our authentic selves.
We must learn to respect them.
We must learn to listen.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

The Year 12 Retreat, held at Swan Valley Adventure Camp over three days at the end of Term 2, allows students the space to embark on an interior journey towards holiness through the integration of self. Our interpretation of holiness is the classical Hebrew understanding, where to be perfect or holy simply means to walk with God despite our flaws.

Twenty-two staff members gave their time to guide the students, undertaking a journey of deep inquiry into the truth of who they are at the very core of being, by reflecting on who they were, who they are now and who they want to be. Through a series of shared stories from the staff, regrets, fears, hopes and dreams for the future were woven through this contemplation.  Alongside this, students embarked on ‘The Quest’, a reflection of the ancient hero’s quest for the Holy Grail, where they were challenged by a number of difficult outdoor team activities, to meet their true authentic self.

The structure of the Retreat was put into context through Mass and drawn together in a combined celebration of the Eucharist led by Father Oscar Aquila.

The retreat journey was travelled individually and collectively. Students were supported by their peers, staff retreat facilitators Michelle Carrick, Clare O’Connor and Ben Court and the 18 staff members who were small group leaders. As retreat co-ordinator, it was a privilege to see the process unfold, the openness of each student to give and receive the love of God from each other and their appreciation of the staff for their time and dedication given to this experience.


The following reflections represent the thoughts of the students and were shared during the Retreat Mass.

The Retreat has been an exciting, emotional and important experience bringing us all together to reflect on our lives. We have shared many of our experiences and challenges which have allowed us to have an insight into how special each person is. These little gifts shared by each one has brought us closer together to create a stronger cohort. Claire O’Connor

The affirmations and letters we received created an emotional yet uplifting environment. For many of us, this has been an eye opener to the next level of our relationships with the important people in our lives. The trust and support provided to us by our friends and small groups allowed us to develop our understanding of ourselves, others and God. Lily Gresele

Over the past three days we have reflected on our failures and mistakes, and recognised that it is ok to make mistakes, as we have unconditional love and support from God and the people he put into our lives. I am sure the stories we have heard from the diverse lives of teachers will stay with us into the future and beyond Year 12. Through reflection and prayer, we can place the first stone towards our journey in life after Santa Maria College.  McKenzie Nagle

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