Click the Buzz Me button to receive email notifications when this writer publishes a new article or a new article in this column is published.
Fathers and sons gather around the fire pit together.
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory has always emphasized students’ relationship with God, family and friends to create a healthy balance in their lives. The father-son retreat gives these relationships a chance to further connect. This retreat is held yearly and gives students a chance to take a step back and reflect on life with a family member rather than just reflecting alone.
The retreat takes place at Strake Jesuit’s Retreat and Leadership Center in Leona, Texas, which is 125 miles north of the school’s Houston campus. This location provides students with a place to reflect far away from the distractions of everyday life. During the retreat, fathers and sons spend lots of time having deep conversations about life, family, work, school, friends or anything else that comes to mind. Most importantly, however, is the time that is spent focused on building a relationship with God. Mass and confession take place toward the end of the retreat, which gives participants the opportunity to open up with God.
Father Wegenka leads mass to end the retreat.
When asked what makes this retreat special, Father Michael Wegenka, SJ, said, “I think the opportunity to have a father along for a retreat does a number of really special things. First, it brings something familiar from a student’s day-to-day life into the context of a retreat. This allows the retreat to be not merely an escape from what happens at home, but also an occasion to bring what happens at home to prayer and reflection.”
With the issues involving COVID-19, having a retreat like this seems like it would be impossible. However, Strake Jesuit made sure to enforce health and safety protocols to ensure everyone’s safety.
Father Wegenka said, “Once we mitigate the risks and allow our families the flexibility to decide what is best for their sons, the pandemic only increases the need and the opportunity for making these retreats. The need is greater because so many of us have lately experienced isolation and a longing for connection with other people and God.”
Out of the four retreats at Strake Jesuit, the father-son retreat is special because fathers and sons come away from the retreat with a new appreciation for each other that makes their connection even stronger. Father Wegenka said, “The goal of the retreat is to foster that communication as a means to communion with one another and with God.”