Retreats allowing students to grow their faith


Retreats are an important part of a DePaul Prep student’s life. Recently, the sophomore retreats occurred in February and the freshman retreats occurred during March and April. 

Retreats are supposed to act as breaks in a student’s day, and switch your thinking and focus to prayer and reflection. Retreats at DePaul Prep focus on certain topics that help strengthen Vincentian values.

Flo Merkl-Deutsch, the Director of Mission and Ministry, describes retreats as “a way to cultivate our spiritual life here at DePaul Prep. It is a way to help students take a break from their normal routine, and to add tools to their spiritual toolbox. It is also a way to build on our Vincentian charism and culture.”

Retreats are universal in nature, regardless of your religion. They draw on sacred scripture as wisdom sources. 

In February, sophomores got to experience a full day retreat with a wide variety of activities. At the start of the day, students got to play an ice-breaker challenge, and then switched to small group identity exercises. After that, they had a values challenge. Once they were done, they got to go to the DePaul University church to meet with Fr. Chris Robinson to learn all about the Vincentians and the Catholic Church and have Mass.

The sophomores ended the day with prayer and scripture reflection. One sophomore, Samantha Rodriguez described it as “a way to unwind, since I’m running around all the time.”

For this entire retreat to happen, there was another group that helped, which was the junior peer leaders. The peer leaders are students who help lead the retreats. They help with all of the activities and make sure that everything runs smoothly.

Lakyra Williford is one of the junior peer leaders.

“I wanted to help others and the students connect and feel like being themselves. I love helping out people and making sure people can feel comfortable with me and with each other.”

All of these leaders were called to help one way or another, but they also needed to carry certain values with them as the helped out Ms. Merkl-Deutsch.

Michael Scarpelli believes that “All the different types of kids at our school will help carry our values further. I value the kids making connections with each other. I value the time to be able to sit down with the kids and actually talk, not just school stuff, but real conversation.”

But how did the retreats come to be? When retreats first started in the school’s initial years, they focused more on our core values. Today, retreats focus on different topics. For example, freshmen this year had the Parable of the Sower and the Seed as their theme. The sophomores theme was identity, and the juniors focused on Kairos.

Sophomore Brandon Copenhaver described the sophomore retreat as “a cool experience, to learn about the church and the Vincentians.”

This evolving structure of retreats is all due to the growing of our school, and the more established Theology curriculum.

Whether you have gone on a retreat or not, you should think about what the deeper meaning of it is, when you go on one. Retreats offer so much more than the face value. 

“Everyone has an inner life, an inner sacred space, and we nurture that. These retreats also nurture one’s social-emotional wellness, and to also build habits of reflection,” Merkl-Deutsch said.