As individuals and as a community, we are immersed in the fullness of life and are deeply committed to the many responsibilities that we balance. The opportunity to deepen our relationships with God and with one another—both through days of reflection and renewal and through overnight retreat experiences—are central to our growth in Christian faith. During their four years at McNicholas, students will participate in days of renewal during each of the first two years, and overnight retreats during their junior and senior years. During the junior and senior years, students are invited to participate in our Kairos retreat and Nicaragua Immersion programs, and during the senior year students have the option to experience either the Appalachia service-learning retreat.
Freshman Day of Renewal—Growing in Christian Community
During the month of October, all members of the freshman class will gather together to discern the many ways that their individual uniqueness will find a home as members of the McNicholas community and as members of the body of Christ. Through shared prayer, discussion, community-building, and faith witnessing, students will grow in their awareness of our school’s heritage, our commitment to service, and how our faith tradition manifests in our daily lives.
Sophomore Day of Renewal—Growing in the Spirit
During each student’s sophomore year, we will deepen their rootedness within their families, their circle of friends, and within our school community, and in Christ. With the assistance of McNicholas senior peer leaders, students will explore their core values and priorities and develop decision-making skills that will ensure their fruitfulness as daughters and sons of God. Large group activities, small group discussions, individual reflection time, and a participatory prayer service will help draw students closer to the Spirit of God.
Junior Retreat—Strength, Courage, and Wisdom
Building upon their previous experiences of faith, students will build community and deepen their understanding of the ways God has bestowed them with a unique set of gifts and invitations. Faith sharing by McNicholas alumni and faculty and staff complement a variety of activities that engage the senses and creativity. Together, students will move toward embracing Christ’s invitation to be “the light of the world.”
For many students, Kairos is the culmination of their retreat experiences at McNicholas. This four-day retreat is offered to students during either their junior or senior year, and is grounded in Catholic incarnational theology. Kairos is an experience of authentic Christian community in which students grow in intimacy with God and with one another through small group faith sharing, meditation and reflection, and faith witnessing by senior peer ministers and faculty members. The Kairos retreat program has been a deeply transformational aspect of the McNicholas community since 1994 with active involvement from students, faculty, and alumni. In August 2015, McNicholas celebrated its 100th Kairos retreat.
In 1981, the first group of McNicholas students traveled to the Glenmary Farm in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky for a six day service-learning retreat. Each year since, McNicholas students continue to be immersed into Glenmary’s domestic mission to serve the rural poor through the leadership of the organization’s volunteer farm managers. Today, students build Christian community both among themselves and among the people of eastern Tennessee through service, shared prayer, and cultural immersion experiences.
Nicaragua Immersion Experience
In partnership with Immaculate Heart of Mary parish and the twinning community at the Cultural Center of Batahola Norte, the Nicaragua Immersion Experience is a weeklong visit during the month of June that serve as an opportunity for solidarity, partnership, and accompaniment with the people of Nicaragua. Through our encounter with our brothers and sisters in Christ, students grow to recognize our interdependence, and through our relationship, we come to embrace a mutual sharing of gifts as members of the global community and as children of God’s one human family.