February seemed to be a month of spirituality for the students of St. Paul’s School. As part of the Lasallian “experience” at our school, each grade level has its own unique and specific religious retreat designed for the needs of the students’ growth as men of God.
Each special retreat builds on the other, and they culminate with what is arguably the most highly-anticipated event at Saint Paul’s School: Senior Retreat.
While none of the other retreats can quite fully equal Senior Retreat in the aspects of effectiveness and profoundness, the faculty and student leaders try their best to make these prayerful days worthwhile.
Like the freshman retreat, the junior retreat is split into two days; one day is spent at the Camp Abbey Retreat Center in Covington, and the other is spent on a field trip designed to bring the students closer together in brotherhood. Half of each grade goes to the retreat one day and the field trip on the alternate day.
The juniors started their retreat Feb. 21 at Camp Abbey. Two school buses filled with about 80 students spilled onto the Retreat Center grounds deep in the woods of Covington. From 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the juniors reflected upon a question asked by junior class moderator Lee Pierre: “Would the boy you were be proud of the man you are?”
To add to this theme, the juniors wrote a list of virtues that they believe make up a true man.
In addition to this, and to keep the mood relaxed, students focus on having a good time with each other and creating strong bonds between one another.
Junior Jack Ruli said, “It was interesting to think about our future that way.” He continued, “This day helped me realize the kind of person I want to grow up to be.”
Junior David Conroy mirrored Jack’s enthusiasm: “The retreat gave us a chance to slow down and get to know each other better. It was cool being in groups with guys I had never talked to before at school.”
When it came time to go on the field trip, the juniors went to the Angola State Penitentiary in Angola, La. At the prison, students toured the grounds, met with prisoners, and visited the lethal injection table. The students met in one of five chapels at the prison and talked with inmates called “trustees,” prisoners who are trusted and given the responsibilities of giving talks and tours.
Junior Tanner Leblanc said, “I guess the whole point of the trip was to show us what happens if we make bad decisions in our lives. We ate the food there; I cannot live off of that for the rest of my life.”
Junior Peter Yager had a similar revelation, saying, “Angola helped me to broaden my perspective and experience a side of life that I have never before been acquainted with. After being exposed to the routine, stories, and struggles of the prisoners, I suddenly realized how good I have it and how all of it can change in an instant.”
Most of the inmates that the juniors spoke to wanted to leave the students with one thought: “Murder in Louisiana means life in prison. And life, in Louisiana means life.”