My Experiences on Retreats (And Why You Should Do One)

Hey everyone,

I hope that you all enjoyed spring break! I was lucky to spend the first half of it at home with my family, and the second half visiting my roommate in New York City. The last time that I had actually visited the city was ten years ago, so I felt that it was long overdue for me to return. I took the Amtrak train down, and over the next few days we walked around Central Park, saw a show on Broadway, looked over the city in One Vanderbilt, and hung out with his family, before returning directly back to Worcester on a bus. I had a really fun time!

We were so high we were in the clouds!

It can be tricky to find something Holy Cross-related to write about immediately after a break (an issue that I also encounter as an editor of the Spire student newspaper.) Fortunately, the Holy Cross Chaplain’s Office just shared photos from the Big Chill Retreat I attended back in February. So, my blog post this week will be about my experiences at the retreat center, and why you ought to consider attending one.

I have attended three different “Big Chill” retreats over my time at Holy Cross. Typically, freshmen are able to visit the retreat center with their Montserrat groups; however, I did not get to participate in any due to Covid-19. So, the first time I went on a retreat was during the fall of my junior year, in November 2022. None of my friends expressed an interest in registering, so I decided just to go myself. Honestly, that ended up being a really cool experience. I read the old magazines available at the center, walked on the nature trails snaking around the property, and enjoyed the phenomenal cooking offered. It may sound like hyperbole, but I felt so relaxed when I returned to campus the next day.

Breakfast at the Joyce Contemplative Center with my friends Ralph and David

My experience was so great that I signed up to do another solitary retreat this past September. This one also proved to be really enjoyable as I met a few people that I hadn’t spoken to before. For the retreat last month, I was able to convince a couple of friends to join me on the retreat, as this seemed our last chance to participate before we graduated in May. While it was pretty different being with friends, it was a lot of fun. We trekked in the woods as the snow piled up, and we branched out and participated in a yoga class offered.

I highly recommend that every Holy Cross student go on a retreat. The food is great, you get your own room, the views from the center are spectacular, and you really do feel a long distance removed from the stresses of the Hill even though you’re only a half hour or so away. The retreats do cost money (attending an overnight Big Chill is $45, I believe) but there is financial aid available for those who need it. Additionally, there are multiple types of retreats offered: study retreats, spiritual retreats, women’s retreats… This link will give you more information than I probably could. Hopefully, there is a type of retreat offered that will appeal to you!

Although we get to rest again with Easter break at the end of the month, there’s still a few weeks left before then. This Friday, I will be attending the “100 Days Ball” along with the rest of the senior class…as if I needed any more reminders that college is almost over. But I’m definitely excited for it! Fingers crossed it’s a blast.