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Breaking Down Barriers

November 25, 2014

A retreat that was adapted more than 10 years ago by Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, to ease racial tensions at a Springfield parish, still finds relevance today for suburban teens.

The Bridges Retreat brought students together from Saint Viator High School and Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. They returned for the second year to Villa Desiderata, a retreat center in far West suburban Woodstock and run by Br. Pat Drohan, CSV.

Photo by Jim Dippold

Photo by Jim Dippold

“It was a great opportunity to bring together young people from two different communities,” says Jim Dippold, campus minister at St. Martin’s, “to discuss issues that cause division in our world — prejudice, discrimination and other types of injustice.”

Photo by Jim Dippold

Photo by Jim Dippold

Looking out over scenic Pistakee Bay, students spent two days together in prayer, small group sessions and worship services.

“We had the chance to reflect and pray about our own shortcomings,” Mr. Dippold added, “as well as to think about how we can commit ourselves more deeply to building up the world that God desires for us, and think about how we are called to neighbor to one another.”

Since designing the retreat, Fr. Brost has brought it to Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, as well as St. Martin’s and Saint Viator, where he now serves as president.

Photo by Jim Dippold

Photo by Jim Dippold

Many other Viatorians have helped moderate the retreat over the years, including: Brothers Dan Lydon, Dan Tripamer, John Eustice, Pat Drohan and Michael Gosch, as well as Pre-Novice Peter Lamick.

Br. Gosch, a former English teacher at Saint Viator and social worker at Cristo Rey St. Martin’s, said the retreat goes a long way in breaking down barriers and furthering relationships.

“During the closing prayer service, a number of students from both schools speak about the importance of not judging others,” he says. “They also speak about how important it is to spend time getting to know someone regardless of a person’s background — as a way of breaking down stereotypes and building bridges.”