Posted: 24th October 2013

On the 10th of October, 2013, the boys of Rhetoric set out from Clongowes for their annual retreat in four different locations across the country, from Newry, to Roscrea. There were also two groups staying in Dublin, one at Manresa in Clontarf and another at Orlagh House in the Dublin Mountains from where Dillon Hennessy sent this report…. 

It was to Orlagh House in the Dublin Mountains that the largest group, some 21 boys, was dispatched. Leading them were Ms. Ann-Marie Dolan, Pastoral Assistant to the Headmaster, and Ms. Anne Rodgers. Knowing they were in capable hands clearly put the lads at ease and the atmosphere was relaxed from the off. The title this particular retreat had been given was “Group and Discussion” but in reality it encompassed a healthy mix of silent reflection and teamwork too.

We opened the discussion with an emphasis on the motto of Ignatius Loyola ‘Find God in All Things’ and it was with this aim in mind that we spent the next three days reflecting. There was a very enthusiastic reaction to the first group discussion, and some interesting points were raised.  In response to the question, ‘What would you do if you were Taoiseach for a day?’ -there were some very creative suggestions, and perhaps a future in politics awaits some of the retreatants.

The next day, we looked to finding God in ourselves. Thanks to the wonderful ambient soundtrack provided by Ms. Dolan on the guitar, everyone found the introspection required to make the exercise worthwhile, and the meditation later that evening was definitely a highlight for the lads. With plenty of time to just relax, chat or pass a ball around, it was an incredibly stress free environment.

Then, on the third and last full day, we held a Service of Reconciliation with the help of Fr. Barney McGuckian SJ, which allowed us all to come to terms with what we had learnt about ourselves, others and God. Once again, meditation and mediation under Ms. Dolan’s guidance proved very enjoyable.

On Saturday morning, after a lie-in, everyone packed up and got ready for the bus back to school. There was a final blessing in the chapel at Orlagh, before we thanked the staff who had looked after us so well, and Fr. Byrne for his support throughout the retreat. Really, they contributed immensely to the continued success of the retreat.

On behalf of the entire group, I would really like to thank Ms. Dolan and Ms. Rodgers for the incredible effort and the painstaking attention to detail they put into making our stay such a success. Never let it be said they just let Jesus take the wheel.

Dillon Hennessy

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