Each year, I am invited to St. Christopher's School in Nashua to speak at the 6th grade retreat (the school only goes to grade six). I am also invited each fall to attend the school's Vocation Day and speak with the 5th and 6th graders so I know the school and the staff well. I am always honored to spend time with the students and their teachers, especially my buddy Ms. Wefers who has taught there since 1981.
The theme of the retreat is friendship and trust. After a little prayer service, I had the students answer four questions:
1. What do you look for in a friend?
2. How are you a friend to others?
3. What are you most excited about for middle school?
4. What are you most nervous about for middle school?
I then read some of the responses so the students know what their classmates were thinking (I didn't read names of course) and so they know that many of their friends have the same feelings, struggles, and apprehensions about friendship and the coming new year. We then talked about Jesus' friends and how despite Him having much trust and faith in them and offering them the opportunity for glory, they all abandoned Him when the going got tough. We read various passages from scripture of Peter denying Jesus, Judas betraying Him, the man who was so afraid to be associated with Jesus that he ran away naked, etc. But, in the end, when Jesus rose from the dead, He forgave them all and didn't hold their betrayals against them. Jesus, I said, is the true model of friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness and we are called to be Him.
We then prayed monastic style some quotes from the book of Proverbs, listened to a song called "Safe" which talks about Jesus always being there for us and we concluded with the St. Teresa of Avila prayer about being the hands and feet of Christ in the world.
Tomorrow the class will have a luncheon and awards ceremony and I am looking forward to sharing the moment with them.