A Break with God: How Retreats Can Improve Your Spiritual Life


Students at the 2020 Frosh Retreat in February.

Kaitlyn King, Jeffrey Go, and Annie Roske

Seattle Prep offers many retreat options for students, from Frosh Retreat, to Young Women’s and Men’s, to Senior Pilgrimage. These retreats led by Mrs. Bernal and a family of dedicated student and faculty leaders offer a break from the stress of school and welcome the students into a few days meant to strengthen their relationship with God and each other. Retreats vary in purpose, but the ultimate idea is to lift the burden of school, even if only for one night, and invite students into a space of reflection and prayer.

“Retreats have been instrumental in my own formation as a person. I have seen its tremendous power to heal and transform people,” said Bei Bernal. Bernal is part of the Community Ministry Team, a Theology Teacher, and Assistant Coach for Pulse. “There is always something to be gained with stepping away for a bit.” Retreats can almost be compared to vacations in the sense that going on a retreat allows you to forget about your heavy responsibilities and hectic life schedule. They can also form new and stronger bonds with fellow Prep students and even faculty.

In addition, retreats can add a substantial amount to your spiritual life. “St. Ignatius introduced the Spiritual Exercises as a form of discipline,” said Bernal. She compared retreats and Spiritual Exercises to physical exercise. The more you “exercise” your spiritual life with retreats, the more prepared people can be in dealing with the phycological and emotional struggles in life. Retreats can teach Prep how to approach a situation, be calmer while doing it, and how to ask God for help.

Retreats have even taught Bernal and other leaders things that she has taken with her. “I learned that what everyone realizes from a retreat is more like a remembering,” said Bernal. Every person in the world starts out knowing that they are loved, good, and created for a purpose. A hectic life and other responsibilities make people forget about this three things people started out knowing. When going on retreats, Prep students and everyone in general can remember the three things instilled into them by God. Retreats are filled with joy, love, and positivity; and students are consequently filled with joy, love, and positivity when going on retreats at Prep.

Lastly, retreats can help students accomplish the Grad at Grad. The Grad at Grad is how people can incorporate the holistic view of a person. It be characterized into five parts: spiritually alive, intellectually competent, loving, committed to justice and open to growth. Catholics firmly believe that people are “embodied spirits,” said Bernal. “This mean that both our physical bodies and souls are one and together as a whole.” By going on retreats, people can be shown what it is to show the Grad at Grad and become a more well-rounded individual.

Retreats at Seattle Prep are an opportunity to open students’ eyes into what it means to be emotionally and psychologically stronger, become more spiritually active, and be more open to growth in all aspects of life. They are a fantastic opportunity to take a break from the chaos and hecticness of school and focus on improving the mind and soul. Bernal wanted to add that everyone should “Be open to the experience. Try retreats out without any expectations.”