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Enhancing our Retreat Program
Rachelle Garbarine

The legacy continues...

More than 30 years after an old school was turned into the Short Journey Retreat Center in Smithfield, Cardinal Gibbons purchased the historic buildings from the Diocese of Raleigh as the permanent home for its retreat program. It did so with this goal in mind: Enhance the retreat program to offer ever-expanding formational opportunities to members of the Gibbons school community to grow stronger in their faith and closer in their relationship to God.

Crista and Tim

While ambitious, the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center, which is undergoing a renovation, will make many aspects of growing the school’s retreat program easier, notes Gibbons Retreat Directors Crista Anders and Tim Yelenic. They run the overnight spiritual, grade-specific retreats, with Crista leading Kairos for seniors and Prism for freshmen; and Tim directing Quest for juniors and Mosaic for sophomores.  Those retreats have grown over the last decade, with more than half of the student population involved as participants or retreat leaders in the last year alone. (Tim and Crista, pictured above right)

Now with Short Journey the number of grade-specific retreats the school will offer is expected to increase, over time, to 10 retreats a year from the current six. And additional retreats serving clubs, teams, parents, and Catholic middle school groups are projected to take shape. Along with having a strong spiritual component these new retreats will also focus on such topics as team building, leadership, and mission. The hope is that every student and every educator at Gibbons has the chance to attend a retreat at Short Journey, enhancing the already strong fellowship that exists within our community Crista and Tim say.

“The center will enable students over years and over generations to form memories that build on one another, making an imprint on their hearts and helping them to create a lasting bond with each other and with God,”  notes Crista Anders.

Quest Retreat Participants

The added hope, notes Tim, is to introduce an Athletics Retreat Pilot Program at the center next year. The program, conceived collaboratively with the Athletics Department, calls for coaches and student-athletes of each team to attend a retreat, ultimately holding a total of three athletics retreats. At the same time, he says, the plan is to work with Gibbons Outreach Ministry to design a similar retreat program for those involved in community service and, in time, offer the same for parent groups and clubs.

Meanwhile, renovation of the center continues and is expected to be completed by the start of 2019. “Having a home base gives us a chance not only to customize our retreats, but also to put own personal touch on the center,” Tim says.

It also puts everyone involved in the school’s retreat program on the same page, provides increased flexibility, and alleviates the logistical and planning issues involved with scheduling multiple retreats at multiple centers. “And it allows us to take ownership of the place we will call home,” Crista adds, noting that Short Journey will become, “a home away from home” for our community, a place to share traditions and create memories.

“The center,” Crista continues, “will enable students over years and over generations to form memories that build on one another, making an imprint on their hearts and helping them to create a lasting bond with each other and with God.”   As important Tim adds: “It will empower them to leave their own legacy.”