XBSS Retreat Brings Together Students Across All 13 Schools

XBSS Retreat Brings Together Students Across All 13 Schools




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The days were long and meaningful. One morning began with an 8 a.m. breakfast and an 8:30 prayer service. It would end with a 10:30 p.m. prayer service. The Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools Student Leadership Retreat, March 6-10, at the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center in West Hartford, Connecticut, managed to pack a lot into its time frame.

After hosting a virtual XBSS Retreat in 2021 due to the pandemic, our schools were thrilled to return in-person, to spend time together, learn, grow, and embrace what so many others who have gone before them experienced.

Small group discussions, guest speakers, thought-provoking activities, shared meals and daily prayer were just a few highlights of the retreat for the 78 high school juniors, 13 seniors and 18 adults. Service, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the Xaverian tradition were all explored to create an experience in which students came to realize their “connectedness” to the Xaverian charism.

“Charity is fantastic,” said one presenter. “It is what you all do on a regular basis. You address the problem head on. We go to the soup kitchen, the shelter, we serve in those capacities and then we go home. The justice part is stopping the root cause, why we have to go to those charities, those homes, those shelters … stopping it in its tracks. And today we will learn about how to do that, at least begin to talk about that.”

The students represented a variety of cultures, backgrounds and experiences. Each of the 13 XBSS schools were challenged as to how they should think and how best to serve their respective communities, seeking that justice while serving the marginalized and forgotten.

Ben Horgan, XBSS formation director, opened the session on diversity and relayed a few historical stories from the school network, including the time St. Xavier in Louisville reached out and played Louisville Central in football before Kentucky integrated. Central was an all-black school that, at the time, could not play other local schools. The bold move by St. Xavier showcased a deeply rooted belief of the Xaverian Brothers, as stated in the “Fundamental Principles,” of the inherent worth and value that all people are created in God’s image.

“One of the most meaningful aspects of the retreat is a sense of being part of something bigger than yourselves,” said Jim Conley, longtime Campus Ministry director at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, Massachusetts. “It is connecting with the larger XBSS community, and the relationships that result from that, as well as the exchange of ideas about what is happening at the different schools, and giving the students an opportunity to bring those things back to their own school.”

Joe Cucinotta, a senior at Xaverian Brothers High School, was the videographer for this year’s retreat, which can be viewed on YouTube: xavb.ro/XBSS2022.

“Thank you for this life-changing experience,” he said. “Much love.”

Did You Know?
Seventy-eight students across the XBSS Network earned National Merit Finalist or Commended status in this year’s National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began more than 75 years ago. About 1.5 million high school students enter the program each year. Our XBSS students achieving Commended or Finalist standing are among the top 3% of all PSAT test-takers nationwide!

Reflection From Therese Annulis ’22:
“The XBSS Retreat was incredible! We were able to spend five days with 91 students from all 13 schools and hear talks from the 13 senior leaders, have small group meetings with students from other schools, pray for all the schools and just bond with the other schools! Our SMR group performed a skit about confessions, and I was able to give a talk on the Xaverian value of Zeal. Before going on the retreat, I never knew how connected the schools were, but after meeting all the amazing people and learning all about the Xaverian Brothers network I truly know how lucky we are to be a part of it at SMR! I was able to make so many friends from all the schools that I know I will have for a lifetime. Going on the retreat as a senior and being able to hear all about what the other schools do and then being able to help guide the six juniors as they decided what they wanted to bring back to the school made me feel that our school is in such great hands, and I am excited to see what they do with their new knowledge!”

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