By, Jarryd Atkinson
St. Ignatius College Geelong
What do you do when you are planning for an entire Year 8 Retreat Day with 250 students, and the uncertainty of lockdowns and school closures due to COVID-19 strikes?
You would be sensible to respond with “postpone it until la…” BUT that is not how we roll here; With the impending Year 9 subject selections for 2021 looming, it was imperative we all seized the opportunity to strike the iron while it was hot, and explore our flexible evangelisation options to deliver the Catch the Wave program to our year 8s across the first week of August.
A full day on site was intended, designed to pilot the CSYMI Youth Ministry program (Catch the Wave) at St Ignatius College for the first time since development began at the start of the 2020 school year.
Natural amendments were needed in response to the pandemic, such as needing to deliver the retreat while students were engaged with Remote and Flexible Learning at home.
Zoom (love it or loathe it) offered a platform to deliver a condensed version of the retreat program, and meant we could offer the program to each year 8 homeroom individually, with 25 students over a 2 period time slot. Now times that by 10 sessions, and we ensure each student is given the same opportunity to engage with the program, and spend some much needed time in discussion, reflection and prayer.
Although the Catch the Wave program was squeezed into a time-frame that was more cramped than a pew at Christmas, students responded by saying they enjoyed the time to participate in small group discussions (Break out rooms) and explore a range of topics that covered self-identity and worth, the basic Kerygma message, mercy and the love of the Creator and how each individual is called to live a life to the fullest.
When asked what they would take away from the sessions, students responded with:
“That you are not alone and you always have God who will welcome you back. That when you share light with others you can create light within yourself.”
“That no matter what mistakes you make you will always be welcomed home and that everyone is like a grain of sand, different in their own amazing unique way”
As a result of our incredible year 8 students and the Catch the Wave retreat program, we will have 4 classes and 80 students for the inaugural year of Youth Ministry CSYMI curriculum at Saint Ignatius College (2021).
As the Youth Ministry Facilitator at Saint Ignatius College Geelong, I thank God for all of the incredible staff and students who enabled the sessions to take place, I thank God for gracing us all with his Spirit, and I pray that the incredible young people of the Saint Ignatius College may come to experience a deeper relationship with You.