Catholic School Retreats Policy
School retreats are an integral part of the life-long faith formation of young people. They promote systematic, intentional catechesis as part of the comprehensive evangelisation of students. ‘Catholic schools need to provide the best apprenticeship that they can in the Christian life.’ (Mandate, para 59).
Catholic School Retreats are relational at heart. To be effective, retreat programs acknowledge the individual’s unique reality and bring the power of the Gospel into contemporary culture in a way that engages and empowers young people.
The Catholic school retreat aims to put students in ‘communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ’ (GDC 80). Through the retreat experience, students come to know Christian love and are exposed to a Gospel centred way of life. Students hear the Gospel and are empowered to connect the Gospel message to their lives and to find ways of continuing the Church’s mission. They participate in the life of the Christian community through liturgy and through activities which emphasise growth in Christian faith.
The term retreat refers to time away from the normal school programme where participants have the opportunity to reflect on their relationship with God. The emphasis is on students’ awareness of the presence of God in their lives. Retreats may vary in style and duration. They include experiences of prayer, discussions, reflective silence and quiet time alone. The celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist is strongly encouraged.
1. Retreats aim to provide experiences for students and, or, staff to know, contemplate and celebrate Jesus.
2. Retreats are an integral part of Catholic school life. They need to be inclusive, purposeful, meaningful and take into account the culture, developmental needs and experiences of students.
3. Retreats complement the catechesis experiences offered by the school.
4. Retreat planning needs to take into consideration the charism, ethos and mission of the school.
5. The school shall consider the financial burden of sending students and, or, staff on retreats. 6. Retreats are seen to be an extension of Catholic Schools. The same code of conduct expected during school hours is expected of all students, staff and supervisors for the duration of the retreat. Pastoral care systems shall be in place to support the needs of all students.
7. Retreats need to be planned in a way that engages students in rich experiences of Catholic symbols and ritual.
8. Retreat staff will be committed to the faith formation of young people.
9. Behaviour Management, Bullying and Harassment, Child Protection, Medication and other school policies and processes shall continue to be applicable.
1. Parents and students will be informed about the nature and purpose of the Retreat and the level of student involvement required.
2. Our Retreat programme will consider the religious and cultural backgrounds and the developmental needs of our students.
3. The Catholic School Retreats programme will include appropriate prayer and liturgical experiences.
4. Our Retreat programme will include creative and engaging activities and approaches with young people which connect to systematic catechesis.
5. Staff involved in a Retreat will be familiar with the Retreat programme and its expectations prior to and during the Retreat.
6. The roles of Retreat staff shall be clearly defined.
7. The Retreat programme shall include appropriate evaluation procedures, including feedback from students.
Bishops of Western Australia, Mandate of the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia: 2009-2015
Congregation for the Clergy, General Directory for Catechesis, 1997