The physical and spiritual


GrimesretreatBishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School students learn to work as a team

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

Frank Marvullo, a senior at Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School in East Syracuse, said the experience of a recent retreat with his fellow classmates has brought him closer to them. “The retreat helped me develop trust in them and to come together as a family,” Frank said.

The senior class at Bishop Grimes attended the retreat, called “Team Building as Jesus Did” on Sept. 17 at the LaFayette Rope Course in LaFayette.

Bishop Grimes has been offering annual outdoor retreats for its upperclassmen, including sophomores and juniors, for the last five years. Jo Rabideau, spiritual life director and religion teacher at Bishop Grimes, said the reason the retreats are held outdoors is to give the teens an opportunity to look at nature, themselves and their classmates in a new way. “The seniors came back from the retreat off the ground, and hopefully, they will be carrying what they learned with them back to school,” she said.

The outdoor environment helps the students to make some connections with people that they might not otherwise make. These connections enable them to help one another through certain situations throughout the school year.

When Frank learned of the upcoming retreat, he was excited. After attending the retreat, he said he thought it was even better than what he had first heard about it.

The retreat provided a way for the seniors to learn what it’s like to take on a mission, find a way to remove any obstacles and to achieve their goals through team effort. Five challenging events were held for the students the day of the retreat — four in the morning and one after lunch in the afternoon. They included the rock wall, spider web, Mohawk walk, tire swing and the 14-foot wall climb.

“I liked the 14-foot wall climb the best,” said Bishop Grimes senior Donna Comins. “The plan was to get everyone over the wall. We reached out to the ones who might not have the courage or strength to do it. We learned team-building as Jesus did — we accepted them as they are, and then we reached out to them.”

Frank said that participating in the Mohawk walk helped to build trust between him and his classmates. During this event, the students helped one another walk a tightrope.

During the tire swing event, the young people hoisted one another through the center of a tire that had been hung five-and-a half feet in the air. They were not permitted to touch the outside of the tire during this challenge.

The teens were also given a chance to develop their team-building skills during the spider web event. The objective was for each person to climb through a square of a large rope that had been hung from a tree. The students were given two minutes to devise a course of action.

Bishop Grimes athletic teacher and retreat organizer John Cifonelli prepared the students for the physical part of the retreat during gym class. “When kids think of spirituality, they don’t necessarily think of combining physical activity with it,” said Cifonelli. “What we’re doing is sort of giving our seniors an environment where we put them back in the physical and the spiritual, and we use it as team building for our senior class.”

“I came away feeling closer to everyone,” said Donna. “I learned some things about other people — the people I thought wouldn’t reach out to help ended up reaching out.”

After the trip, the students learned how to relate their adventures as team builders with those of Jesus. They were asked to consider such things as acceptance and tolerance, noting that Jesus always accepted people for “where they were” and “who they were.”

Two weeks later, the Bishop Grimes juniors attended their retreat at Highland Forest in Fabius. The theme was “Jesus, Should I Follow You?”

The sophomores recently held their retreat at Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville. The theme was “God’s Creation and Finding God in Nature.”

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