Kindergarten students spend time in personal prayer after coloring and personalizing an adoration booklet as one of five stations during the Eucharistic retreat at St. Mary’s in Tomahawk during Catholic Schools Week. The retreat day coincided with “dress as your favorite animal” day. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

One of the Catholic Schools Week events at St. Mary’s School in Tomahawk was an all-school retreat focused on the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration.

“It was the best retreat we’ve had,” said teacher-in-charge Juanita Skubal.

Students rotated through five stations in “spirit groups.” The groups mix grades so multiple grades interact, and older students can help younger ones and be role models.

The five stations included working on an age-appropriate adoration booklet. Simpler for younger students, for older students it included more prayers, songs and Bible verses. Expectations were discussed for how to come into and be in the presence of Jesus – genuflecting on both knees, kneeling and sitting quietly and just being with Jesus.

When each group went into the church for a time of adoration, they took their booklets, drew pictures, wrote prayers for themselves and others and reflections of gratitude.

Another station provided a video and discussion time about Eucharistic adoration.

The snack station provided a sweet treat that students assembled into a monstrance shape using a round cookie with yellow frosting, a pretzel rod and pretzel sticks.

At the song station, students talked about their own experiences with adoration, learned and sang songs, including “This Little Light of Mine.”

One other station was focused on the students letting their lights shine for others in need. They made “Thinking of You” cards for the sick in the parish and community.

After the retreat, the whole school assembled in the cafeteria to talk about what they had learned. Students were excited to talk about transubstantiation, which had been presented in the video. They also understood better that at each Mass, they are witnesses to a miracle when the priest says the words of consecration and the bread and wine are changed into Jesus’ body and blood.

Skubal said the children are more excited to go to Mass and notice when those words are proclaimed.

From there, students went over to the church to see the red candle indicating Jesus’ Eucharistic presence. The tabernacle was opened, and there was a time of Eucharistic adoration before the monstrance.

“The students instantly bowed their heads, got on their knees, closed their eyes and just prayed,” Skubal said. “We were in adoration for over half an hour, and the students asked if we could do this again soon.”

Skubal shared reflections written by two fourth- and fifth-grade students.

One boy wrote, “I learned how to participate in adoration and that you get to sit in the church where you are comfortable. My favorite part was sitting up in the balcony. I became closer to God by praying the whole time.”

A girl student shared that her favorite part was getting to having one-on-one time with Jesus. “I became closer with God by writing everything that I saw in the church, like the crucifix, Father’s chair, all the candles, a bunch of people praying, the altar, the piano, the pews, etc. I learned that talking to Jesus by myself is very peaceful.”

Adoration is now scheduled monthly for school students to have this special time with Jesus.

“We had some students who had tears of joy, they didn’t want to leave the church. It was so amazing to watch and listen to them be with Jesus,” Skubal added. “It was a sight to see! I personally can’t wait for this opportunity for the students again.”

Skubal would love to share resources with educators in schools or religious education programs interested in Eucharistic retreat contents and activities. Contact her at .