Posted: Friday, May 28, 2021. 1:10 pm CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Justin Vera: Alumni from John Paul II Junior College in Benque Viejo and students from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio embarked on a five-day retreat from May 18th to 22nd in the mountains of Pine Ridge. They focused their retreat on the verse from Isaiah 2:3: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”
Customarily when the Franciscans students visit Belize, they lead the retreats and do the talking. This year the retreat featured talks from both Franciscan students and JPIIJC alumni. The alumni along with missionary volunteers from the Junior College and visiting Franciscans went to some of the most breathtaking destinations like the Rio Frio Cave and Rio On Pools, as well as some demanding hikes such as a dreaded trek up a three-mile long incline and the picturesque ‘Turtle’ Mountain, culminating with the daunting task of scaling a waterfall.
An English major from the class of 2020 spoke of his reason to go to the retreat. “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
Business undergrad Jacqueline Vejerano describes her spiritual journey. “God called me into the woods in order for me to let go of fear. If climbing mountains and hills was something I could do with Him, then there is nothing impossible for Us in the future.” Theology Major Aaron Gongora continues speaking of this arduous journey and says, “The silence at the mountains beckoned me to ponder on the mysteries of God, in turn, I learned how to appreciate and worship Him in my own unique way.”
Another graduate of the class of 2020 and Business Major Alex Rosalez came to this realization, “The summit retreat has been a great experience for me since it showed me that no challenge is impossible to overcome. We are the ones that set our own limits.”
First year volunteer Ms. Laura White had this to say about the retreat: “The Summit retreat was a peaceful break from the busyness of everyday life. I was able to grow closer to God through solitude on the mountain and uplifting conversations with others on the retreat.”
John Paul II Junior College offers a unique Liberal Arts curriculum featuring the Classical Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic), as well as classes in philosophy, theology, world history, Belizean history, and fine arts for all students. It also offers professional courses in Business Administration and English. John Paul II JC is a private institution which offers financial assistance to any high school graduate seeking a liberal arts foundation in higher education.
In addition to the academic curriculum, the school seeks to form the whole person through outdoor adventure and leadership experiences like the Summit Retreat.
The school’s website is: https://www.jpii.edu.bz/ The school looks forward to its new Fall semester. The junior college welcomes applications and inquiries, and may be reached at 501-823-2896.
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