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Encounter XLII

Caroline K. '18, Editor

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On October 26th through 29th, Padua Academy held its 42nd Encounter retreat. The students who attended, also referred to as “encounterites”, along with other student and faculty leaders, spent the weekend at St. Raphaela Center in Haverford Pennsylvania, growing in friendship with God and one another.

 

On the night the girls arrived, they received their roommate assignments and met in their designated small groups for the first time. They were also given journals, a tool they would utilize frequently throughout the weekend. Many say they remember feeling a combination of nerves and excitement as they entered the retreat center on the first night, unsure of what the weekend would entail. Senior Marigrace Ferrill says, “I was unsure of what to expect because we don’t see the schedule, but the surprises definitely made the experience more fun and meaningful.” The girls spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection, and even unstructured time just singing around the campfire, laughing, and telling stories together.

 

One essential aspect of Encounter is its student leaders. This year, seniors Caty Gallo, Niki Gearing, Kayleen Italia, Becca Miller, Tori Millsap, Chrissy Molloy, Natalie Onesi, Sydney Przywara, and Grace Simmons, attended their second Encounter, this time taking on a completely different role. In addition to the student leaders, Morgan Sprinkle, a graduate from Padua’s class of 2015, attended as the alumni leader. After months of meetings, preparation and planning, the leaders wrote speeches, made posters, created small groups, paired roommates, and headed to the retreat center early to get it set up before the encounterites arrived. Each of the leaders gave a talk to the rest of the group, all sharing their own unique stories but relating to the common theme of strengthening your faith after hardship. “I absolutely loved leading.” said Caty Gallo. “It was amazing being able to watch the other girls experience Encounter for the first time and grow in their faith. I would not change it for anything.”

 

The retreat concluded with a mass held in Padua’s Roberto Hall, where the girls were given cross necklaces from their small group leaders. Many returned home with a changed perspective, new friends, and countless memories. Despite the retreat coming to a close, the and friendships made on Encounter have transcended the span of the weekend, with the general consensus being that it was a valuable experience for all that attended.

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