Sunday, 10 April 2011 15:40

Mini-retreat help students through Lenten journey

Written by

Sister M. Mercedes Diaz, FSGM, meets with students Ben Cusac, Gracie Maher, Andrew Scroggins and Chloe Greenberg in front of the bulletin board that features weekly highlights of the St. Mary Middle School Lenten Journey. ALTON — Students and faculty at St. Mary Middle School in Alton are taking part in a 40-day mini-retreat during the current Lenten season. The retreat, called “Journey with Jesus 40 Days” is a part of their regular school day.

Students began their journey on Ash Wednesday and are focusing on a specific theme every week of Lent. Every Wednesday, students gather to listen to a guest speaker that is presenting on the week’s theme.

For example, the theme of one recent week was “Prayer: Friendship with Jesus,” while during Week 4, the theme was reconciliation and was entitled “The Sacrament of Mercy — Forgive Like Jesus.”

On Monday, April 4, students attended a forgiveness prayer service, which included the sacrament of reconciliation. On April 6, a recent St. Mary graduate who now attends Marquette High School, Zach Ross, was scheduled to come back to talk to the students about his experience with reconciliation.

Sister M. Mercedes Diaz, FSGM, religion teacher at the school, came up with the  project and has developed a link on the school’s website ( so that parents and families of the parish can join the school students in their Lenten journey. She also keeps a bulletin board in the school so students can keep track of the guest speaker, activity and prayer that will be used that particular week.

After seeing what the students have been doing thus far this Lent, Judy Kulp, assistant principal of St. Mary Middle School, says she couldn’t be more pleased. “It’s been a wonderful experience for our children and I wanted to share it with everyone,” she says.