(CONVENT, La.) Each year, St. Paul’s juniors are offered the opportunity to attend Manresa House of Retreats, a retreat center in Convent, Louisiana, on the Mississippi River. This year, the mostly-silent retreat was led by Campus Minister Jeff Ramon.
When we got off the bus, we were all surprised by the size of the retreat center and all the open space of the place. Every student was assigned their own room and went straight to it to set their things down. We then entered the library and were introduced to what the Manresa retreat is about, and given an hour to explore the open areas.
Personally, I feel that time was very beneficial. I was away from society, and it was just me and my thoughts. Walking around outside in the 65 degree weather just looking at other types of life evoked thoughts and images in my mind that brought me peace.
After the personal experiences outside, we all went to eat dinner — which I was told would be amazing — and it did not disappoint.
Afterwards, we all went for a walk on the levee located on the fields of the retreat house where we saw the sunset. Personally, I felt very peaceful during the sunset. I looked at one specific tree with a beautiful orange background of the sun setting behind it, almost like a piece of art.
After the walk on the levee, we ended the day in the chapel, then went to bed.
The next day was very similar in the way that it was set up with personal talks, followed by periods of exploring silently by yourself in the woods where it is just you and your thoughts.
Leaving the place felt very different from entering. On the bus ride there, I was very anxious to see what it was like and what I would be confronted with. On the contrary, the ride back was marked by everyone talking about their personal experience, and some talking about what was going through our minds.
For anyone considering going, I would highly suggest doing so. It is a great personal experience where it is just you and your thoughts. One thing that I suggest doing is to bring a journal to take notes on your experience, which will help with you keep your thoughts organized.