Faith, Knowledge, Service…. The Freshmen Experience - Mission Immersion
The 2015-2016 school year theme encapsulates our core values of Faith, Knowledge, and Service perfectly: “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). We want our graduates to grow in grace, wisdom, and an understanding of their call to serve others as they complete their four year curriculum at MC. To immerse our students in this task, the freshmen class has a triptych experience that embodies our school pillars.
The three-pronged retreat experience is intended to immerse the freshman class in the school’s mission from the moment that they step on campus. Together, they serve to unite the class in mind, body, and soul, bringing them to a common place of shared experience and shared memories.
The Mission Immersion journey begins in the fall with a faith retreat to Occidental. Led by our upperclassmen and staff, the freshmen experience a beautiful outdoor Mass in the Cathedral of the Redwoods, during which they contemplate God’s call for each of them through hearing faith witness talks from our upperclassmen. Students also listen to their retreat leaders’ stories and see firsthand how God has worked in the lives of our juniors and seniors. Students share personal insights in small group settings before heading back to campus to conclude the day. The purpose of this retreat is to impart upon each freshman the hope and consolation that God will guide them on their next four years with us, and to reinforce the idea that Marin Catholic offers a comprehensive spiritual support system to each student.
A faith foundation gives our freshman students a purpose and call to add wisdom to the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom. Through the knowledge retreat, students come into a more profound understanding of their role within the global community as a steward of natural resources. Guided by rangers from Marin County Parks and Open Space, our freshman biology classes spend a day exploring King Mountain in Larkspur to discover how native and nonnative plants interact with one another. Biology teacher Mary Churchill has partnered with aBio-Blitz Program, allowing students to collect and submit their data for scientific research on a national level. The freshmen especially enjoy the up close and personal attention from some friendly snakes, lizards, and beetles. Campus Minister Nicole Ferris recalls, “The majesty of King Mountain and discovering the intricate details of animal life remind our students that we belong to something greater, a Creator, who has connected us all through the beauty and elements of creation.”
The final freshman experience is one we hope all of our graduates continue in their years after high school -- that is, the experience of serving those who are most in need in our society. We are called to live out the Corporal Works of Mercy by feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, welcoming strangers, and clothing the naked in our own community. The freshmen begin this graduation requirement by serving the elderly and working with the marginalized and disabled. They grow in empathy and maturity as they care for those who could benefit tremendously from love and attention. Our Parent Advisory Board and Christian Service Office help get students started on this by organizing 3 service events: a day serving food at Glide Memorial Church, a home-grown carnival for the elderly in Novato, and a few hours bowling with the disabled from Jessica’s Haven and Rescue. Students are also treated to presentations of upperclassmen’s 50-hour projects to learn about the various service opportunities in which they may participate. Typically, our students return from these experiences with a renewed appreciation for and understanding of the value of service. Engaging students in this way teaches them to be hands-on, effective community members who are confident in their ability to make a profound difference in local sectors and in the world as a whole.
By involving the freshmen in this three-part retreat experience, the class learns firsthand that our mission of Faith, Knowledge, and Service is at the focal point of our Marin Catholic vision. The students, through Mission Immersion, are able to enter their sophomore year confident in their familiarity with the school and in their understanding of place within the Marin Catholic community.