Faith in an Online Format

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Photo via St. Ignatius College Prep

St. Ignatius’ new take on AMDG in light of Covid restrictions.

Alaina McGill ‘22

As a school community, we at St. Ignatius have always revered the opportunity to celebrate our faiths together through mass, IVD days, and retreats surrounded by our peers. The integration of faith into our high school years has always been a priority, and administrators have pushed us to learn from each other and develop a more spiritual life. However, this is proving more difficult than ever now, when we must avoid large groups and have switched most activities to an online format. Nevertheless, our community has persisted, and though our school celebrations have shifted to a COVID-safe format, they have not lost their meaning.

Since the beginning of the school year, our community has met multiple times online to celebrate mass together, including the Mass of the Holy Spirit. We also came together in small groups and over zoom to celebrate two IVDs, one focusing around racial justice in our community and the other allowing students to choose their own subjects to learn about. The most drastic shift from regular years has been our retreats, in which students normally have the opportunity to partake in each school year alongside their classmates. This year, all the retreats have been shifted online.

Though a very different experience, most students were still able to find meaning in their retreats and take something out of it, even over an online format. Brooke Ghaly ‘23 says of her sophomore retreat, “Although it would’ve been great to have our retreat in-person, the virtual retreat brought us together for a wonderful day, despite the circumstances. We got to talk about seeing God in all things, and we were even given the option to go on a walk through nature.” Not only was Sophomore Retreat a beneficial experience to those participating but Junior Retreat was also a unique and meaningful experience. Students described finding it exhausting to stay on zoom for so long, but still found the discussions regarding purpose and their futures engaging.

Regarding freshman retreat, Elle Rossini ‘24 stated, “I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet people outside of my classes, and it was amazing to be able to partake in the mass for the first time in months.” Students have also expressed finding it difficult to motivate themselves to participate when on zoom, but said that retreat gave them the motivation they needed and pushed them out of their comfort zones.

This school year has been incredibly challenging and different from a normal high school year. Nevertheless, our school community quickly adapted to the online format, making the most out of our hybrid schedule and keeping activities COVID-safe to ensure everyone’s health. The integration of faith into our learning and school culture was, fortunately, not lost during the pandemic. Celebrating mass, enjoying IVD days, and partaking in challenging retreats, all in an online format, proved to be more demanding, yet just as meaningful as in person. With more reason for prayer and time for reflection, our faith and comradery has stood strong, and proves the importance of community and solidarity in such difficult times.