Confirmation Retreats in Esker. Autumn 2014 into Spring 2015: : Pre-Confirmation, or Post-Confirmation.
A Story: In early 2012, a parish in West Clare treated all their young people who were preparing for Confirmation to a Day Apart in Esker. Having gathered the students from four schools in the parish, between 7am and 7.45am, they travelled with a few parents and were in Esker by 9.15 am, ready for their Special Day. They departed at 3.30pm after a celebration of Mass, and, on the way home, got a treat in Supermacs. This way, the parish community honoured their young candidates, and created a new bond with them as a parish, as they began their adult lives.
In Esker, we offer an opportunity for your parish community and your school to treat your young people to a special day apart, - before or after their Confirmation- in the beautiful grounds of Esker Retreat Centre and Youth Village. A Post-Confirmation retreat offers them the chance to unpack the experience they have had, and to see where they could go from there.
Esker and its surrounding area has been a monastic centre for over 360 years now,- with the Dominicans first and later the Redemptorists. We invite your young people to come and experience this sacred place.
To the young people who come to Esker, we offer the following:
- A great Welcome
- Experiences of meditation
- Bonding – being together in a different way
- Good Food!
We invite them to notice…
- their own true selves
- each other
- nature in their surroundings
- their own gifts
- their families & community
We model for them and invite them to Gratefulness in their daily lives.
We try to touch on some or all of these things:
- Eliciting from them some of the hopes and fears in their young lives.
- Bullying & Respect,- the realities of these in practical ways
- Prayer in their lives, – learning to walk in the presence of God, daily.
- Through art and other methods, to display the most valued gifts that each one has; to imagine using all these gifts in their community. These are linked to the ‘gifts’ of the Holy Spirit, ‘given, for others’.
‘I fell in love with human nature, and through human nature I fell in love with God’ (Bryan McMahon, Writer, quoting his own teacher in Primary School).
We invite them to fall in love with their human nature, and to see the wonder-filled sacredness that is deep within each one of them. We want to share with them,-
- ‘That they are all walking around shining like the sun’ (Thomas Merton)
- That each of them is ‘like a pure diamond, blazing with invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody…and if we could see it…’ (same)
Before the end of our day together, we invite them to gaze into the face and eyes of Jesus of Nazareth and to see their own reflection in those eyes,- loved beyond their wildest dreams. We invite them to ‘Open wide the doors to Christ’, because, as John Paul 2 often said to young people ‘Jesus Christ not only shows GOD to you, but shows YOU to yourself!’ And again ‘Every one of you has been called by name by Jesus!’ We want them to discover themselves in the company of Jesus.
In the course of the day, we try to use art, activities, still moments, music, games, visuals, and discussion of life issues.
Where Parishes request this, we offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to the students, provided there is time for this in the course of the day. This is obviously easier when the school group is here for the full Esker Experience, from 9.30am to 3.30pm.
We offer them-
- Deep Respect
- Listening Ears
- Journeying with them
- Skills for life
- Beautiful Grounds
- Fun Galore!
Normally, we end the day with a Eucharist in which the young people are very involved, in various ways,- a time of Gratefulness and Celebration
We believe as a Team that the Holy Spirit comes with them on the bus, and is with them on their way home. As a Team, we pray before each retreat that the Holy Spirit will guide us all through the day with the young people.
If at all possible, we give them time to explore the grounds in Esker for a short period.
THE DAY BEGINS AT 9.30pm, AND CONCLUDES AT 3.30pm. We do not want to short-change the students in their Special Day.
POST-CONFIRMATION DAYS:We believe that there can be great benefit to students who make their retreat AFTER their Confirmation,- when they can have the opportunity to ‘unpack’ the experience of their Confirmation Day and everything around it, and explore how they might go forward in their faith-communities with others.
Enquiries and Bookings to ESKER 091 844007, or email firstname.lastname@example.org