The recent blessing of the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center was a historic day for our school, one that ushered in the start of a new chapter for the center.
Editor’s note: We updated this story from the original that appeared on Friday. It includes new information from the October 19th blessing of the center.
It was a day of faith and fellowship. It also was a day of love, joy, and gratitude, Principal Nancy Barkan said in her welcome at Saturday’s blessing ceremony of the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center, our school’s new home away from home for retreats.
The day’s celebration took place under a blue-sky afternoon at the retreat center in Smithfield. There, attendees also had the opportunity to tour the center’s historic buildings and 12-acre campus as well as honor its traditions and history.
More than 100 students, parents, educators, and friends of Gibbons attended the October 19 ceremony, which ran from 1 – 4 p.m. with the blessing at 2 p.m. Fr. Scott McCue, pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, former assistant principal for spiritual life at Gibbons, and a current Board of Trustees member, performed the blessing. He was joined by Fr. Marlon Mendieta, who has a long and deep connection to Gibbons.
In 2018, the school purchased Short Journey from the Diocese of Raleigh, which ran it as a retreat center for more than 30 years. Buying the center underscores Gibbons’ commitment to the spiritual formation of its school community and its connection to the history of the diocese.
Before the blessing, Director of Retreats Tim Yelenic spoke of the love he, along with the rest of the Gibbons community, has “for this place.” He also talked of the formational experiences that will take place at the center, continuing a tradition begun decades ago.
Those formational experiences “start with the relationships students will build here,” said Yelenic, who also coordinated the year-long renovation of the center. It opened this summer.
It was a day of love, joy, and gratitude, Principal Nancy Barkan said in her welcome at Saturday’s blessing ceremony of the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center.
Having its own retreat center, Yelenic said after the ceremony, will enable Gibbons to expand its already flourishing retreat program by offering students, educators, and families more retreats and more opportunities to grow in their faith. This year, he added, the center will host 40 leadership and spiritual formation retreats.
During the ceremony, Fr. Scott said that when the members of the Board of Trustees contemplated the purchase, their response was: “Why would we NOT do this - do what no other high school in the nation has done?” He added that buying the center shows that spiritual life is as important as any other aspect – academics, athletics, clubs, the arts – of life at Gibbons.
The day’s celebration also included the dedication of four rooms, each named for a person with a deep commitment to Gibbons, the diocese, and Short Journey. Michael Rogosich ’90, assistant principal for engagement, spoke about the four honorees, highlighting the contributions each provided to the past, present, and future of Short Journey and to the spiritual growth of generations of faithful.
The rooms were named for Jason D. Curtis, Monsignor Gerald L. Lewis, Agnes Penny, and Monsignor John A. Wall.
After the blessing, attendees stayed to enjoy time with one another, exploring the buildings and campus. They also shared old memories of the center and created some new ones.
View the slideshow by Gibbons Media