Gonzaga marks key moments in the life of the community with appropriate liturgical celebration.
Solemn celebrations of the mass, with the full community, in the College Chapel, and enriched by the college choirs, mark the opening of the academic year, the beginning of each term, major feast days, and the culmination of our educational endeavours at Graduation.
Daily mass is celebrated more simply each morning in the College Prayer-Room, attended by an ever-changing and eclectic group of students, staff, parents, past-pupils, and others. During Lent, to cater for larger numbers, this mass, offered by members of the resident Jesuit Community, takes place in the College Chapel.
The sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated during Lent; Benediction takes place at the annual Sports Day; in November each year the dead of the college are remembered at a solemn requiem mass attended by families and friends.
In Gonzaga we are committed to the growth and development of the boys in a range of knowledge and learning experiences, including the faith dimension of their lives. The purpose of the R.E. programme and the Retreats as part of it, is to integrate the spiritual with the personal development of the student, as well as to build up a Christian community, in the class and in the school. Faith formation is not a mysterious process. In the main, it follows the developmental patterns as other modes of learning. Spiritual growth requires exposure to spiritual values and information and most particularly, spiritual experience. This latter is what the retreat programme provides.
The retreats take place the week after the winter examinations. All Sixth Years choose their retreat from a ‘retreat menu’. We aim to accommodate everyone with their first or second option.
01. Waterford: Mount Melleray Abbey
02. Louth: Mellifont Abbey
Mount Melleray Abbey and Mellifont Abbey are both reflective, largely silent retreats, based around the monastic life of the monks. For this retreat one needs to be comfortable with extended periods of silence and be prepared to learn how to pray. One must be content to self-scrutinise, be attracted by nature and relish solitude.
This is only suitable for certain students. Individual counselling is also available where requested. The themes are prayer, reflection, proximity to nature and personal development. The monastic retreats assume a basic faith in God, even if it has not been developed, or a desire to attain such faith. There are periods of speaking as well as silence. See here for Mount Mellaray briefing paper and here for Mellifont briefing paper.
03. Dublin: Manresa Retreat Centre “Daniel McNelis Retreat”
A personally directed interactive retreat, with individual and group prayer, bonding exercises, sharing and reflection. Individual counselling is also available. For this retreat one needs to be comfortable sharing feelings as well as ideas. This retreat is given by Myles O’Reilly SJ and Elisabeth Clarke. See here for Manresa briefing paper.
04. Down: Dromantine Retreat & Conference Centre, Newry, Co. Down
(three days, two overnights)
The theme of this retreat is Contemplatives in Action, and has been developed by Ms Clarke and past-pupils over the past two years. It is a personally directed interactive retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises, with individual and group prayer, bonding exercises, sharing and reflection. For this retreat one needs to be comfortable sharing feelings as well as ideas. See here for Dromantine briefing paper.
05. Dublin: St. Paul’s on Arran Quay “Responding to Injustice Retreat”
24 places (two days overnight)
The retreat, Responding to Injustice, is about looking at the state of the world and learning how to serve it more effectively in ones adult life. In Gonzaga students will have learned about being “men for and with others”, but this retreat makes space to renew his commitment to make the world a better place. The Responding to Injustice retreat asks him to look beyond his own need and wants, as Jesus did. All this is experienced in the context of one’s own dreams, which may be to further study, form a career, create a family and nourish one’s own life. This retreat is directed by Ms Clare O'Brien Quinn. See here for the briefing paper.
06. Pilgrimage to Lourdes
Four students travel with Ms McNamara as part of the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France in the beginning of September each year. Students who have participated in the pilgrimage are free to apply for one of the above retreat options. However, they do not have to as the school considers the pilgrimage as a retreat experience.
Fifth Year: KAIROS
The Ancient Greeks had two words for time: kairos and chronos. Kairos signifies the proper and opportune time for action. For Christians kairos is often translated into 'time with God'. Kiara Desmond and Elisabeth Clarke prepare the Kairos Retreat every year. Overall 72 students are given the opportunity to experience Kairos. During the last week in September the first group of 36 students travel for four days to Manresa House. A second group of 36 students experiences the retreat during the week before the autumn midterm break. This retreat requires maturity and opens to growth, hence it is important that a student has the desire to fully participate in the Kairos retreat. See Kairos application form here.
“Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.”
Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ
“Finding God in all Things” with a specific focus on diversity is the theme of this Transition Year (TY) retreat. We can find God in all things, because God is everywhere and in all that we do - from using our senses to the conversations we have. Because we think of God as huge, we look for God in big things, but God’s presence is deeply woven into everyday life into the simple, which requires us to open our ears and eyes and discover.
The three days at the Oceanview Camp and Conference Centre in Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal with the Surf Project team will offer ample opportunity to discover God in all the action, in the nature and landscape around us, in the conversations we have and the friendships that will be built. Surfing and the ocean offer the boys additional opportunity to draw parallels to the meaning, the beauty of and the challenges in life, and of course to bond with their new form group.
The Third Year retreat takes place ‘in house’ and is led by Gerry Keegan. It comprises a class-based day of prayer, reflection and music. The material is presented in a stimulating and enjoyable way, so that the experience is enriching and informative. It introduces the boys to a wider learning and human perspective and helps them to achieve it.
Each Third Year class group (3A, 3B, 3C, 3D) enjoys one full retreat day after the winter examination in December.
The letter to parents about the Third Year retreat can be accessed here.
The theme is Adolescence, which is looked at from a variety of human and faith viewpoints. This retreat takes place in-house and is provided by the Scripture Union Team. It compromises a class-based day and includes games, talks, group work and discussion, prayer and song. This retreat takes place in January. The letter to parents about the Second Year retreat can be accessed here.
The theme is Being the Best You Can Be. As this is the boys' first retreat after their Confirmation, the content of the day is designed to help the students reflect upon ways in which the gifts they received at Confirmation are bearing fruit in their life, behavior, social interactions, feelings and their growing relationship with Jesus. The day will include games, song, film, drama and meditation. This retreat is provided outside the school at the Emmaus Retreat Centre in Swords, Co. Dublin. Accompanied by two R.E. teachers, two class groups enjoy their day away before the Easter break in spring. The letter to parents about the First Year retreat can be accessed here.
It is a deliberate policy of the school to have retreats running throughout the academic year. This helps to integrate faith formation as an inherent part of the general development of the pupils rather than have it seen as separate from or outside the normal developmental process. An attempt is also made to convey the insight of St. Ignatius of Loyola that God can be found, not just in ritual and religious formation, but ‘in all things’.
See here to view a set of talks recorded during a seminar called 'Faith in the Future - Seminar for Religious Education in Jesuit Schools' held in March 2107. Speakers included Tom Groome (Boston College) and Peter Knappen (Jesuit Education Delegate of Belgium).