Delbarton’s Revised Retreat Program


Patrick Smart, Staff Writer

Each year at Delbarton brings new exciting changes. This school year, however, saw one of the starkest changes made to the Delbarton experience: the revamp of the well-known Delbarton retreat program. In previous years, both Delbarton freshmen and sophomores attended a three-day weekend retreat on the school’s campus, while juniors and seniors had the option to attend a four-day Kairos retreat in January. However, this year, the retreat system has changed to include a two-day freshman retreat on Delbarton’s Campus, a three-day sophomore retreat at St. Oscar Romero Center in Camden, and a four-day Kairos retreat for juniors.  The sophomore and junior retreats are scheduled on weekdays, allowing students to take a break from the academic duties and really focus on their spiritual life.   


In order to see why these changes were made, I sat down with the Director of Mission and Ministry, Dr. Hajduk, to get his take on why the retreats were reorganized. 


My first question to Dr. Hajduk was regarding the reasoning behind these changes. From his understanding, the Delbarton retreat program has pretty much remained the same for the past 25+ years, even before he had come to Delbarton. At that time, the sophomore retreat had only just been added. For this reason, Dr. Hajduk said that it seemed the retreat program need a “long-overdue” update. 


We then moved on to talk more specifically about each grade level retreat.


For the freshman retreat, the ethos remains the same: introducing freshmen to the Delbarton environment and reflecting on what it means to be a Delbarton student. The retreat now begins right after school on Friday, but only goes until Saturday night, rather than Sunday morning like in previous years. Sunday is now dedicated to be a “Family Day.” More specifically, the Campus Ministry program has asked each freshman family to complete an activity together – whether it is apple picking or traveling to a favorite vacation spot – that helps foster the values that were discussed in the previous days on the retreat. 


The sophomore retreat saw the most dramatic changes of all of the retreats. In previous years, sophomores came to Delbarton for a 3-day weekend retreat, identical to the freshman retreat, that touched upon how Delbarton sophomores should act as they become leaders in the school later down the line. Now, the sophomores take a 3-day retreat at the Romero Retreat Center –an organization that holds retreats to help people better understand the plight and situation of the poor – in Camden, NJ. When asked about the catalyst behind this change, Dr. Hajduk said that a major part of Catholic education at Delbarton is our “social-justice” mindset. Thus, giving Delbarton students in their sophomore year the ability to expand their view on the poor and less-fortunate will help them have the right mindset for when they become leaders in the school in the next couple of years. 


In previous years, the junior year KAIROS retreat, focusing on a break from time and really developing a student’s faith, was optional. However, Dr. Hajduk mentioned that he had been told by alumni that the KAIROS retreat was one of their best experiences as a student at Delbarton. Additionally, other all-boys Schools like Seton Hall have taken their junior class to the New York Retreat Center. For this reason, Dr. Hajduk thought it would be perfect for juniors to be given this retreat experience. 


In conclusion, the Delbarton retreat program saw many changes, both large and small, this school year. Ultimately, these changes are aimed to aid the students with strengthening their faith, which will only benefit each individual within the Delbarton community as well as the community as a whole.