Junior retreat: the simplest but most immersive retreat

By: J1 Reporter Chiara Wallen

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Junior students Agoum Monydehl, Mariessa Beal, Hannah Schaffer, and Cori Davis prepare peanut butter sandwiches for sack lunches to be distributed by the Open Door Mission on Nov. 12. Photo by Daisy Owen.

A day spent serving those less fortunate than yourself can make a bigger difference than can be seen by the naked eye. Every Monday a small group of juniors go to the Open Door Mission (ODM) for their retreat.         

Marian has been serving at the ODM forJunior Retreat since 2006. One faculty or staff member volunteers to go each week and drive a Marian vehicle to the ODM, which is located at 2726 N 23rd St E, near Eppley Airfield.

Junior Retreat is never as hyped-up as some of the other annual retreats. Due to its under-the-radar nature people, particularly non-junior students, tend to disregard it until they notice the absence of a friend. Although it’s rarely mentioned, the importance of the day becomes evident clearly to participants.

“I think it was extremely beneficial. We had lots of laughs and learned so much about what they do at the Open Door Mission,” junior Maddie Warrick said.

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Junior Maddie Warrick has a laugh while serving at the Open Door Mission on Nov. 12. Photo by Daisy Owen.

Warrick served on Nov. 12, with five of her classmates and art teacher Mrs. Joan Sanders.

Throughout their day at the Open Door Mission the Marian juniors can be found making sack lunches, serving food, or helping in any other way the volunteer coordinator determines. It truly does have an impact on the lives of so many people.

Warrick said,“It 100 percent was an enlightening experience. It allowed me to see how happy these people could be even if they had nothing other than a bed to sleep in.”

Every day at the ODM provides 816 safe shelter beds to men, women, and children from the Omaha and Council Bluffs community. They also serve more than 2,100 hot meals on top of providing preventative measures to more than 1,082 people who are living in poverty.

During the lunch hour students get the opportunity to eat with some of the guests of the Open Door Mission. This is because it’s important to talk to these people so you can better understand their lives,“I met a lot of the people who were staying and the center and learned so much about them and their stories,” Warrick said.

“There was this guy that was there and he was in a really good mood. So he came up to us and he was like, ‘how are you guys?’ And we were like, ‘we’re doing great, how are you?’ And he was like, ‘I’m doing groovy!’… he was just so funny, it really made my day!” junior Mary Said said. She also attended retreat on Oct. 1.

The juniors also get a tour of the facility and campus of the Open Door Mission, Lydia House, and Garland Thompson Men’s Center.

Having juniors fulfill their retreat at the ODM allows them to experience a place where they could continue serving the community on a regular basis. Many students share their experience with friends and family and continue to donate food, clothing, and household items along with their time throughout the year.

The Open Door Mission serves as a fantastic example of just how much can get done when people come together as a community. When juniors spend their Monday at the ODM they experience all of Marian’s core values. It’s perfect for Marian’s Junior Retreat because the ODM reflects not only the students’ eagerness to serve but also their Christian desire to help others.

When students go to Junior Retreat, they come back with a grateful attitude, tighter bonds with their classmates, and memories to inspire a lifetime of service.

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