On Saturday, Jan. 18 and Sunday, Jan. 19, sophomores returned to campus to participate in bonding activities with their fellow Cub brothers. Students followed the necessary safety precautions and were able to interact with one another on school grounds, some of them for the first time since March of last year. This event was coordinated by the Campus Ministry.
English teacher and faculty volunteer Mary Dahm said, “A major purpose of the sophomore retreat was to facilitate camaraderie and bonding. Another purpose was to create time for reflection and prayer.”
County-enforced isolation has extremely limited interaction, so the retreat provided a great opportunity for Cubs to see one another safely and have some much-needed social time.
Sophomore Sam Peck said, “The main purpose of the retreat was to provide an opportunity to see and bond with our peers especially during this time of being distanced.”
The retreat fostered an interactive community that resembled, to some degree, normal school life. The activities consisted of frisbee golf, a reflection on student progress as Loyola men during isolation, a Communion service and a movie.
Sophomore Massimo Mendoza said, “We were able to have fun that we couldn’t normally do online. Personally, I had a great time hanging out with my friends and this retreat allowed me to feel the spirit of being back on campus with my fellow Cubs.”
The activities were centered around the physical and mental ways that students could grow during their time in isolation, both on their own and as a group. The reflection, which took place half-way through the retreat, encouraged students to look back on all their successes and failures since the start of the pandemic and to look forward to all the opportunities they have to improve themselves.
Sophomore Benjamin Torres said, “I had a lot of fun because I hadn’t seen a lot of the guys in a while, so it was fun to just sit and talk with them. I also liked how the retreat included the reflection because it opened my eyes to think about the growth and change I’ve gone through while at home.”
The Campus Ministry team had created a safe environment in which students could feel at home with their fellow Cubs.
Sophomore Lucas Damasco said, “The campus ministry did a great job in keeping everyone safe. There were hand sanitizer stations and handwashing stations throughout the campus. Policies such as wearing a mask and social distancing were enforced at all times.”
This retreat helped sophomores truly identify the importance of camaraderie, and they were able to develop a deeper sense of respect for the value of their education and extracurricular opportunities.
Dahm said, “One takeaway was that opportunity can be born out of hardship. Forced isolation, as it did for Ignatius, can be a time to move from exterior to interior life in a useful way. It feels like our lives have been put on pause, and it starts to feel like we are living the same day over again, getting lost in monotony. We can choose to watch Netflix and wait for this to be over, or we can ask ourselves: What can quarantine add to our lives? For me, I was reminded that I wanted to take this time to read and write more.”
While sophomore Joseph Sakakura said, “The Sophomore Retreat helped me identify how much we need to value Loyola and the education we receive. During this time, I was able to develop a deeper understanding of social interactions with my fellow classmates. This retreat taught me the value of things we don’t normally pay attention to every day, especially the time we spend together as brothers on campus.”