Freshman Retreat evolves over the years

By J1 Reporter Emma Herold

Since Marian’s foundation, Freshman Retreat has occurred. Although some aspects of Freshman Retreat have changed over time, the main purpose has remained the same: to bond the students together through experiences, different backgrounds, and spirituality.

“Before the late ’80s to early ’90s, class retreats were not mandatory, or as intensely planned as they are now. That being said, almost all students attended retreat,” Campus Minister Mr. Andrew De Leonardis said. “[According to teachers who have been here longer,] Marian did not used to have a Campus Ministry Department, it was just a collection of Servants of Mary who worked at Marian and teachers who would come together to plan spiritual activities for the students,” he said.

Mary Edick Mausbach, a 1983 Marian graduate, remembers her Freshman Retreat in 1979. It was an overnight retreat with bonding activities at a place near NP Dodge Park. “I believe it was freshman year, but not with the entire class at one time. I think they split us into smaller groups,” Mausbach said.

Between the years of 1979 and 1982, the retreat was moved to Marian’s campus. One of the activities at the 1982 Freshman Retreat was aerobics as an entire freshman class.

When asked about her 1984 Freshman Retreat memories, Jan Thomsen Sullvain, a 1988 Marian graduate, said, “What I remember most is that we got a note from our mom and our dad, then got to read them during the retreat. I still have the notes from both my mom and dad.”Another 1988 graduate, Tracy Malesa Schimonitz, also recalls receiving letters from her parents, as well as the retreat occurring at Marian and being overnight.

The current form of Freshman Retreat has been around for about 20 years, however, it has changed a little.

With Freshman Retreat still occurring at Marian, the 1998 retreat was not significantly different than the earlier retreats. Some of the activities included races, journal writing, small group discussions, and even a dance party the next morning.

The next year, however, Freshman Retreat was slightly changed. Instead of having the traditional overnight retreat, the 1999 Freshman Retreat went from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31 at Marian, according to the 1999 yearbook. Other than this, many aspects of the retreat appear to be the same. The retreat still included small group discussions, class bonding, spiritual reflections, and the formations of friendships.

On Oct. 7, 2007, a seemingly normal Freshman Retreat was taking place at Marian. It wasn’t until late that night that a fire started, caused by a candle. The fire alarm was pulled and all girls had to evacuate the building. Freshmen were picked up by their parents. The school was closed for the next few days in order to clean up. Severe damage was done to that room. That retreat was truly unforgettable.

Although candles are not allowed to be lit in the building as a result of the fire, that didn’t change anything else about Freshman Retreat. It still has occurred at Marian every year since the fire.

In 2013, the Class of 2017 experienced Freshman Retreat. At this retreat and in the retreats in the past, the class did small group discussions, service work, played games such as Ships and Sailors, and of course, bonded.

2013 Freshman Retreat group led by Julia Tatten, '15, and Lizzy VanDyke, '15.

2013 Freshman Retreat group led by Julia Tatten, ’15, and Lizzy VanDyke, ’15.

Coming with all of these Freshman Retreats are a lot of volunteers. Former Campus Ministry Coordinator Mr. Kory Delkamiller said, “For as long as I’ve been here [since ’00], there has always been a shadow crew and Freshman Retreat leaders. There is a ton of volunteer work, but it has mostly been student leadership.”

From the first Freshman Retreat to the most recent, the main focus of it has not changed. The classes have been brought together in individual ways each year.

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