MWE leads as the first encounter during Covid-19


MWE Senior Leaders pose with their masks on

The March Women’s Encounter occurred earlier this week, historically marking the first encounter during Covid-19. As the first encounter to occur in over a year, MWE proved to be a special and unique experience.
Mr. Clarke and his team have been discussing the encounter since last summer, hoping that an in-person encounter was possible. The team was finally called to start planning meetings a mere three weeks ago in February.
“It was fast,” Ms. Barry, Theology teacher and Encounter Coordinator said. “Usually [planning] is about a month, so we had five meetings in two weeks which were official meetings – we had a whole bunch of meetings unofficially. The team has worked really hard, and they did an awesome job.”
This particular encounter required extra preparation and training of the leaders, as an abundance of precautions and protocols were implemented throughout the encounter. Senior Ziggy Berkoff worked as a Rector for MWE, making sure everything was in order logistically, such as meals, cleanliness, and ventilation.
“There’s going to be hallways that are only one direction, so if you want to go the other way you have to go all the way down the stairs and back up,” Berkoff said. “The food is going to be served in singular [boxes], and we’re all eating outside or spaced apart. Everybody’s room is going to have a lot of ventilation and open windows and everyone has their own room, including leaders, which is new this year. And, of course, masks and six feet apart.”
With safety precautions being an absolute necessity, the emphasis on creating an even safer and supportive environment increases.
“It was really hard not being able to hug people after they shared or during a sentimental moment,” senior Savannah Fitts said. “I think that was one of the hardest parts of having all of these safety [measures] placed around us.”
In addition to the new safety measures, the main change to the encounter is the length. Usually two nights and three days, MWE was one night and two days, as the retreatants arrived back at Jesuit late at night.
“The biggest thing that’s been cut, and I can tell everybody this without ruining the secret, is free time…” Ms. Barry said. “When I ran retreats at the other school I kind of tightened up on the free time anyways because it’s just like, ‘Let’s get there, let’s get deep, let’s be super introspective, let’s do some real spiritual work, and let’s go home and live it.’”
Another change to MWE was the leaders of the Encounter, as seniors typically lead juniors. This new dynamic between senior leaders and senior retreatants proved just as exciting for students as they gained an opportunity to bond even closer with their classmates in a new way.
“Honestly, I was nervous about having senior leaders, but it was so fun,” Fitts said. “I feel like I was able to get closer with them in a different way and in a different environment, and it made the experience so meaningful.”
Although different from past encounters, MWE still held the “soul” of encounter, proving to be a special experience for each student that attended.
“It’s not going to be any worse or better than my encounter, it’s just going to be different and going to be cool because it’ll be a totally new experience just for you guys,” Berkoff said.