When soldiers are on the battle front, they do not go there without a plan. They have to sit down, evaluate, look at the pron’s and cons and at the end of it all come up with a strategy of execution. However, its not all the times that a carefully thought-out plan works. Sometimes you have to adjust on the battle field and adjustment can also mean you need to “retreat”. That is exactly what these academic soldiers of St. Ignatius did on the 24th October 2019.
Saint Ignatius College, a Jesuit school, aims at producing students who are grounded academically, who are emotionally balanced, spiritually grounded and physically stable. As such, the school found it fit that students during given intervals should isolate themselves from the confines of civilization and go to a place that helps them get in touch with their true selves without any destructions. This is why our students are ever on pilgrimage every term.
For the grade 11s, that pilgrimage came in form of a Kairos retreat. A retreat which does not necessarily involve one to remain in silence and solitude as one tries to understand what is going on deep inside themselves but, it’s a retreat that requires one to learn how to co-exist with others at the same time to remain aware of oneself.
The Kairos retreat saw the grade 11s heading East on the Zambian map to a location 30 kilometers away from the capital city. We camped at Pazuri park for four days. It was a totally different experience from the common day-to-day life. We slept in tents, we woke-up to morning exercises, we rushed for the showers, came back to attend sessions which were rich input, we split into smaller groups to share at a much more personal level, came back to the larger group and heard from others too and at the end of the day we began to understand ourselves better and also our neighbors.
Different activities were done during the camp. Topics ranged from “faith during trials”, “how to handle afflictions”, “the images of God”, “how to find God in one’s life” and “where am I in my personal life”. The President gave the first sharing which focused on “faith during trails”. In his sharing he highlighted how he usually gets surprised that the same boy who was born in a village in Chikuni, lost both his parents and all his siblings, could end up going to one of the best universities in the world and end up as a President of such a wonderful institution and also have impact in people’s lives. It was topic that moved hearts especially those who were having difficulties and thought they are the only ones neglected by the grace of God. Ms. Michello, the grade 11 grade teacher share her personal story to help the children understand what the topic “how to handle afflictions means”. It was a story of inspiration, a story full of motivation that touched the hearts of both those who share in it and those who are blind to what goes on around us. A story of a young girl who lost her mom and was not in touch with her dad and her siblings were all far away and was raised in the midst of hardships. It was a story of how to handle situations which you find yourself in. It was story that helped show people how God works even in the most dare moments of your life. It was story that encouraged people not so despair and waste their lives on drugs or alcohol as an escape route to depression for where she stands now is testimony that indeed life has many faces but God only has one and that face is always focused on His children. Other leaders also gave input on various other topics but at the end of the day four questions were raised; 1. What have I done for God? 2. What am I doing for God 3. What have I not done for God and 4. What ought I to do for God?
The apex of the retreat came on the last night of the camp when secret letters came from parents. These letters were written with love. Many shade tears even the strongest of men. They talked about how it was when our dear parents felt when we first came to earth. They expressed how happy they have been watching the children at each stage of their live and how they pray each day for the well-being and success of their children. They also apologized for the many times that they might have errored but assured their lovely children they will always be there for them. These letters were read as we all sat around camp fire and nature played as the best symphony.
We would love to thank our dear parents, the students and staff for making the Kairos retreat a huge leap in the lives of the children and everyone that participated.