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Becoming Empowered

Becoming Empowered

Spiritual retreat allows young men to explore their super powers

If you had a super power, what would it be? How would you use your power to impact the world? Those were among the questions 19 young people from the West Loop Campus contemplated during our annual Winter Spiritual Retreat over the weekend of February 1-3 at La Salle Manor. Aside from spending their time reflecting on their unique strengths, each young person used the opportunity to relax and have fun with their peers.

The theme for this year’s retreat was “Empowered.” The sessions and activities used the playful lens of superheroes to examine identity, strength, tough choices and shadow selves. In an early session, each retreatant was asked to contemplate their origin story. How did they become who they are? What event determined the power they have and the way they see the world? They were also introduced to the five types of heroes—fighters, defenders, intellectuals, brutes and adventurers—and decided which category they fell into.

“There was so much rich metaphor in the idea of a hero’s arc—origin story, allies, nemesis, strengths, weakness, shadow sides.”

To think about how their decisions and relationships affect who they become, the retreatants played a superhero board game that forced them to collaborate and make choices. In the end, they got to see if they ended up as heroes or villains.

Marc Velasquez, the manager of spiritual development at Mercy Home, along with a group of coworkers, chose the theme in a planning and brainstorming session two months before the retreat. They decided that the superhero theme was ideal because of its endless possibilities.

“There was so much rich metaphor in the idea of a hero’s arc—origin story, allies, nemesis, strengths, weakness, shadow sides,” he said. “We were able to work it all into the sessions we had planned.”

The superhero theme also provided the perfect balance of silly and serious, Marc said.

“We generally want themes to be fun, but also offer a lot of room for reflection,” he said. “This one was perfect, both playful and deep.”

The opportunity to go on retreats is an important part of our kids’ time at Mercy Home. In addition to allowing them some time to get away from their everyday life, it also gives them space to have fun and build relationships in a stress-free environment.

“[It] is a blessing to be able to provide that, and to be able to share that with them,” Marc said.

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