Connection and reflection on Blackfriars’ annual Year 12 Retreat

For many graduating students, Year 12 Retreat rates as a highlight of their time at Blackfriars.

Whether it’s that chance to relax with mates at the half-way point of what can be a stressful year, or the time to reflect on their Blackfriars journey, the boys come home from Retreat with a renewed sense of purpose and some great memories.

Speaking at this year’s Retreat, at Victor Harbor’s historic Adare House, Principal David Ruggiero said the annual event “captured the core of who we are as a Dominican Catholic School”.

“It’s part of that holistic education – the spiritual, having that opportunity for the physical, getting to know your mates, that emotional part of you,” Mr Ruggiero said.

This year, the boys were given letters from their parents and provided with some quiet time for reflection. For many of the students, it was a highly emotional experience. As in previous years, the boys also attended a liturgy to remember old scholar Nasir Ali Anwari, who drowned at Petrel Cove in 2014.

Student Marcus Di Manno said “spending time with mates … and reading the letters from our parents” were the highlights of the Retreat.

For Seb Zajaczkowski, the liturgy was a moving experience: “Being able to head down to Petrel Cove where we tragically lost one of our Blackfriars old scholars, being able to reflect on that … was good.”

Ashton Walter said receiving the letters from home was a surprise: “Getting to read all the letters that our parents got for us … just reminiscing over old and forgotten memories was nice.”

APRIM Angela Collins said the Year 12 Retreat was a “rite of passage” for the boys.

“It’s something that marks the shift towards graduation and life after school, while acknowledging all that has gone before to lead to this moment,” she said.

She also thanked the many staff members who made the event possible.

“I’m so grateful to all who stepped up or stepped in for this Retreat,” Ms Collins said. “While the boys are always going to enjoy the time away together at this stage of their schooling, I think we collectively created a meaningful experience for many. Adare staff commented on what a wonderful group of young men they are. Were they perfect? No, of course not. But perfection is an unattainable ideal and they were joyous human beings and it was an honour to journey with them.”

Annual retreats are a key part of Blackfriars pastoral care and wellbeing program. Starting at Year 7, they offer students an opportunity to come together as a year-level cohort and provide important moments for connection and reflection.


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