St Joseph School Retreat

There’s a holiness felt when you step onto the campus of St. Joseph School. I would imagine this holiness began in 1955, when three Presentation sisters responded to the call to staff the newly built elementary school. For 66 years, the Presentation Sisters served the community; the laity now continues this mission.  The spirituality of these sisters and their foundress is evident throughout the school. Just ask any student who Nano Nagle is, and he or she would gladly tell you all about “The Lady of the Lantern.” 

On April 21st, we held our biennial St. Joseph School Retreat. The theme of the retreat was Not Words, But Deeds”  inspired by the motto of Nano Nagle. This is our fifth retreat led by alumni who now attend Damien, St. Lucy’s and Pomona Catholic high schools. The focus of the retreat was on the teaching of Nano’s charisms of love, trust, compassion, courage, zeal, and hospitality.

The day began with the celebration of Mass with our parish community. Then a skit titled “Working for the Good of God” was performed by the alumni. As the actors became the characters of two teams who  greedily competed for prize money on a TV game show, these teams quickly realized that the money they so wanted for themselves, should really be used to help the poor and needy. The school children became the audience in the game show who excitedly cheered for the team they wanted to win. In the end, they, too, understood the lesson that Jesus so often taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Thank you to Lindsay Leano, one of our alumni, for creatively writing this skit.) The morning ended with singing the theme song, “Do Something” by Matthew West which could be heard throughout the campus. It was a beautiful beginning to the day!

The retreat continued with the students rotating from class to class as the alumni taught of Nano’s charisms. Activities such as a talent show, human bingo, and bear ninja cowboy as well as discussions became an important part of each talk. To watch these high school students share their faith so powerfully and to discuss questions such as, “What do you think God is asking of you?” or “How can you show hospitality that will make the world a better place?” was inspirational!

I will remember this day always. It was a faith filled and joyous time! Thanks to the alumni who continue to “Work for the Good of God.”  Their dedication in making this retreat happen, showed us all that it’s Not Words, But Deeds that are needed to build God’s kingdom.

When I asked a student what his favorite part of the day was, he said, “Everything!”  Everything about this day was holy!  The holiness of this school community continues because of the people who are part of it.  Would the Presentation Sisters recognize the work they began here so long ago? I think so!

Loretta Bowen, Friend of Nano
Upland, California