Shadow Crew discovers new bonds in the Freshman Retreat journey

By J1 reporter Jenna Cusick


At Freshman Retreat, 17 sophomores ‘Discovered Their Place’ as a part of Shadow Crew.  Theology teacher Mr. Greg Golka, Shadow Crew coordinator for at least the last 13 years, led these girls in preparing Marian for Freshman Retreat on Nov. 3 and 4.  

Shadow Crew’s job is to make sure retreat spaces are set up before they are used and cleaned up after.  They help wherever it is needed; when the retreat leaders, campus ministers, or others need an extra hand, they are there to lend one.  Shadow Crew meets four to five times for an hour on Sundays in the weeks leading up to Freshman Retreat.  These meetings are to “help them understand what it is we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Golka said.    

To Shadow Crew, the day of retreat is like “running 100 miles an hour for 18 hours straight,” Golka said.  “It’s a lot of excitement, that the day they prepared for is finally here.”  On the day of retreat, Shadow Crew girls are at the Marian entrance, singing to music while riding around on scooters outside to get the girls pumped for retreat.  The streamers and decorations displayed in the entrance of Marian are also courtesy of Shadow Crew.  They greet the freshmen with a smile and show them to their rooms.

The Shadow Crew girls hold hands as they celebrate mass.  Photo by Retreat Leader Alternates. 

Shadow Crew’s biggest job, however, is decorating their dinner tables.  “That night, that dinner is the big Shadow Crew centerpiece,” sophomore Shruthi Kumar said.  Each member of Shadow Crew is assigned one or two groups whose table they decorate.  They spend the weeks prior to retreat making or buying decorations for the table, and on the actual day of retreat, it’s go-time.  Kumar’s group, for example, was The Wizard of Oz.  She decorated her table to resemble the yellow brick road and the Emerald City.  She had a stuffed animal lion, and scarecrow hats made out of Bugles for a fun snack, and other decorations.  With the variety of themes, with Candyland to Bollywood and everything in between, each table was decorated differently.

These Shadow Crew positions are part of the Campus Ministry selection process.  Shadow Crew is a very sought after position; over 100 girls usually apply each year.  It is truly a service learning opportunity with an added bonus of building community.  

Golka’s favorite part of retreat was the Mass.  “It’s an opportunity for all those who are involved in retreat, involved in the Marian community, to be together as community, despite our different parts in the retreat.” Golka especially likes the meditation after Communion, where the seniors come forward and read all the things that freshman will discover at Marian.  

“In that, the Shadow Crew really feel engaged in what’s going on because it’s more than just ‘We’re Shadow Crew and we’re doing these things on the retreat’, it’s more than ‘We’re freshman on this retreat’, juniors as group leaders, but it’s ‘We’re the Marian community, and we’re all about this together’.”

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