Student-Centered Retreats

Up until the 1960s, only priests served as retreat directors, giving talks and leading discussions. “We never had lay people talk during my senior retreat,” said Charlie Dullea. “It was a silent retreat, with a talk by an older priest that we would reflect on. We never had time to discuss our reflections with classmates or other priests. This regimented program was probably the same retreat my father went on in 1937.”

In the 1970s, lay faculty, including Dullea, began planning and directing retreats. He recalled trying “to reach kids by talking about their feelings and trying to understand them rather than just preaching to them. We told ‘Christ-in-my-life’ stories, and many of the students connected more with the young faculty.”

The retreat program continued to evolve in the 1990s with the advent of student-led retreats for freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Adults directed senior retreats until 1997 when the school adopted the Kairos retreat structure. By February 2002, the senior retreat grew to comprise four days. (No matter the length or form, the senior retreat continues to be a peak experience for most SI students.) Shaping the retreat program throughout the latter part of the 1990s and the early part of the next decade were Michael Shaughnessy, Michael Gilson, SJ, Rita O’Malley and Sarah Curran.