Bibles, beach towels and blessings mark Pacelli’s annual senior retreat

Published 11:27 am Saturday, June 10, 2017

By Debbie Reetz, Volunteer Retreat Coordinator

For the past seven years, a school bus has delivered extraordinary Pacelli High School seniors carrying their bibles, beach towels and smiles with Ms. Sheedy, to our home in Prior Lake.

I wish I could describe the neighbors’ faces who see this day unfold watching the students outside pray, play, swim, read Scripture, eat and be the most valued “catch of the day.”  With the help of my family and friends we greet, cook, serve and ask for God’s blessing. Trays of food come with a theme like the “apple of his eye” (Psalms 17:8) fruit, trail mix for the journey, Pepperidge farm fish, Propel, Mexican/ American/ Chinese food and desserts. Delicious tilapia fish with bread is served as this story is told at the beach. Let’s get into the boat …

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Imagine fishing all evening long on a boat with your friends, without a single catch. Just as day is breaking some stranger comes along and tells you where you should be fishing on that body of water you know so well. “Cast the net to the right side and you will find fish.” It’s the opposite of what we’ve been doing but you obey this stranger, casting that net just as he has directed you. And then the unbelievable happens and you cannot haul in the enormous catch. This stranger says bring some fish to the shore that you have just caught, as if you could have done any of this without him. On land you see a charcoal fire with fish lying on it and bread. The leader of the pack, Simon Peter, hauls the net of 153 fish ashore from the boat. All are amazed that the net is not torn. This stranger says “Come and have breakfast.” He takes the bread and gives it to all with the fish. None of you dare ask “who are you” for you know this is Jesus Christ who is raised from the dead.

Kamis Kuku, Jacob Paul, Isaac Kraushaar read at the Pacelli Senior Retreat. Photo provided

A discussion comes. Who is Jesus to you? This is your story from John 21:1-15. We look out to the lake. The symbols are rich. The boat is the Church. The sea is the world. The fish are those who enter the Church. The net is the unity of the Church. It does not break and can hold an unlimited number. Peter represents the papacy as the teaching authority of the Church. One hundred and fifty-three different species of fish indicate the apostles bringing to the Church people of every nation on earth. The invitation to breakfast by the risen Lord reminds us of the celebration of the Eucharist, which is Christ’s invitation to this heavenly banquet. In the Mass the celebrant says, “Blessed are those called to the supper of the lamb.”  God is so good!

As waves come across the sinking sand and hit the solid rock we discuss the foundation for our life.  Is your life built on the rock? Matthew 7:24-27. Students write on a rock this verse or another favorite in Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Two thousand years later our Church still stands.

We close with miracle stories of Jesus. Have hope. You can trust God. (Psalms 139). You are never alone. God created you on purpose in love. He knit you in your mother’s womb. You are wonderfully made. Pacelli students, I praise God and thank him for you. You are a glorious unique gift that enriches my Catholic faith. God bless all who spread the faith and support Catholic education.

If you are interested in learning more about Pacelli Catholic Schools visit our website at, email, or call 507-437-3278.