The Carmel Catholic approach to retreats is comprehensive – each year students have a retreat day with a different theme reflecting the growth in their lives. Most of the retreat work is student led and adult directed, which gives our students opportunities for peer ministry.
The Freshman Retreat Day is led by 80 seniors and run at Carmel Catholic. Students do small and large group exercises, and there is a time for personal reflection and discussion. The seniors facilitate small group discussions on various topics based on the ongoing theme of “Belonging – Where and how do I fit in?” There is prayer throughout and the day finishes with a Communion Service.
The Sophomore Retreat Day takes place off campus – usually at Techny Towers Retreat Center in Techny, Illinois. The sophomores arrive by bus and spend the day focusing on the theme – “Responsibility in Relationships.” The day is facilitated by a group of adults who have been chosen by the Campus Minister responsible for retreats. These adults are Carmel Catholic graduates, former Carmel parents, teachers and others who have had retreat experience. There is prayer throughout and the day finishes with a Communion Service.
The Junior Retreat Day is a single sex experience and takes place at Carmel Catholic. The girls' day is led by 21 senior girls; and the boys' day by 21 senior boys. The theme is “Values and How I Live Them” and challenges the juniors to identify and examine their values. Role playing, small and large group discussion and personal reflection are some of the techniques used to help the juniors in their day-long discernment. There is prayer throughout and the day finishes with a Communion Service.
The Kairos Retreat is a four-day, more intense experience in which the retreatant examines relationships with self, others and God. Students choose one of five single-sex opportunities from April of their junior year to January of their senior year. The retreats are held at Benet Lake Retreat Center on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. During the retreat, students hear talks and discuss them in small groups, experience prayer throughout each day, have a Reconciliation Service, and celebrate Eucharist together twice. Kairos Retreats are led by six students and there are four adults who advise and support the team and give talks. Kairos is NOT a graduation requirement. Carmel Catholic requires every senior to have a retreat experience during his/her senior year – Kairos is the program offered at Carmel Catholic. If a senior chooses a different retreat, she/he must get that choice approved by the Campus Minister responsible for retreats and the principal.
Carmel Catholic also offers an 8th Grade Retreat for area Catholic schools. This is yet another opportunity for seniors to have a leadership experience, as the retreats are led by seniors and facilitated by the Campus Minister. These are usually offered during the first semester – and more than 400 8th graders participate at Carmel each year.