Three-day encounters return to Jesuit


Chris Orazio

The leaders of the April-May Encounter, the first three-day Encounter in two years.

On April 29th, more than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic began, Jesuit juniors got on a bus for the first three-day Encounter since March 2020.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Encounters have occurred in an abbreviated fashion, with retreatants spending only a single night at St. Benedict’s Lodge instead of two nights.

“When the pandemic started, we knew that we wanted our students to go on an Encounter, so we proposed a one-overnight Encounter,” director of Campus Ministry Don Clarke said. “The reason was that with a singular overnight and everyone having their own room, we reduced exposure to the virus.”

Over two pandemic-filled years, Jesuit’s Campus Ministry has successfully run these abbreviated Encounters.

“We were able to get through 20 of those pandemic-schedule Encounters without a single spread of the virus, which was very fortunate and the result of the care of a lot of people,” Mr. Clarke said.

When the spread of Covid-19 started to reduce, the Campus Ministry program was excited to start returning to a pre-pandemic Encounter schedule.

“When Campus Ministry looked at the predictions of when Covid-19 was going to settle down, we said ‘let’s see if we can shoot for a three-day Encounter to be the last Encounter of the year,” Mr. Clarke said.

The three-day Encounter created some uncertainty for the senior leaders, as they all experienced single-overnight Encounters themselves.

“The biggest challenge in leading this Encounter is that we’ve never been on or led a three-day encounter, any of us, so there’s things that are happening that we’ve never experienced before,” senior leader Diya Balakrishnan said.

Despite these challenges, the leaders were excited to re-introduce the three-day Encounters to the current juniors at Jesuit High School.

“We’ve practiced enough and gone over the things that are different enough that we will be able to give the retreatants a good experience,” Balakrishnan said. “Next year it will get even better because the current juniors can lead and they’ll know what it’s like a little bit better.”

“We’re super excited,” senior leader Kaitlyn O’Neill said. “This three-day Encounter will be our legacy that we pass onto the juniors.”