The Encounter Programme in Ardscoil Rís, Limerick
The Encounter Programme began in Ardscoil Rís, Limerick in 2006 when a group of four teachers and six fifth year students travelled to Vancouver to experience the student led retreat first hand. Since then the school has undertaken six successful Encounters. The retreat revolves around three relationship themes: -- relationship with self -- relationship with significant others in your life -- relationship with God. Participants work together in a safe, caring and supportive atmosphere that is created by the student leaders and respected by all.
A variety of activities contribute towards the "encounter" during the weekend; small group discussions around the three themes which are led by a student leader; large group discussions; morning prayer; Gospel sharing and Eucharist. The best way to truly describe the effect "Encounter" has on our students is to hear it first hand from the students themselves.
During the period Oct 15th – 17th, the comradery witnessed by 50 students was beyond belief. We went down to Ballyloughran House, Co Kerry as fifty individuals and came back on Monday morning as fifty friends. This Encounter gave us a chance to experience a unique transformation where participants evolved and flourished in terms of selfawareness and an increased ability to empathise with others.
The Encounter provides an environment through which participants develop confidence, maturity, responsibility and companionship.
We have never seen a group of teenage boys of our age, act with such respect, sensitivity and emotion. We are certain that this will help in turning us from young lads into fine adults in years to come. This experience does not remain on Encounter rather it is carried forward by the students into school and one can only hope into the relationships we develop in the future. To conclude in the words of one impressed participant "They say money can't buy happiness but the money I spent to come down here has definitely bought me some this week."