Faith Summer Break - How I spent my summer
By GABRIELLE ESTORNINHO
In the summer of 2015, my Dad asked me if I wanted to go on the Faith Summer Break. At first I felt obliged to go, like he wanted me to and I had to because he had investigated it. Then I felt a bit daunted, new people… I had just started at my new secondary school, which was hard enough. New people; how would I fit in?
The day came; I was ready; suitcase in hand and running through the kit list in my head; ‘Cello on back… I was ready. A long drive around the M25, getting lost on the way and winding through unfamiliar side streets gave me more over an hour of worrying about fitting in. We reached the 1.5 mile marker and drove through a long Roman-like road with farms either side and, in the distance tall hills towering over the car. A building eventually came into view, a grand mansion-like house with stone steps reaching towards it, a Sports centre and an old Science centre and then finally, the car park.
The car doors opened. A breath of new air. I dragged my suitcase across the bumpy road and paving towards Reception and the doors were opened for me by an unfamiliar but soon to be familiar face.
After placing my bags in my room, I headed down to the canteen where a group of girls had gathered. Little did I know but these girls were going to be friends for life. We talked, we laughed, we cried and most of all we stayed in touch.
Every day we attended Mass in the morning morning but to make things slightly easier in terms of organisation, the girls did the offertory and the readings whereas the boys (who are trained previously) were the altar servers. The choir was made up of a group of girls accompanied by others on their instruments.
Later in the morning there was a talk - each year there is a different topic, for example, in 2015, the topic was based on God’s relationship with us; last year (2016) was based on the Year of Mercy; this year (2017) the topic was Discipleship with Jesus. A Question Box is provided in which you can submit any questions you want to have answered, based on the talks or anything that you want to know. Along with this, there are also Discussion Groups. These groups are arranged by age where we could ask any questions or just purely discuss the previous talk.
On the Wednesday, the group is taken to Chessington World of Adventures. Here we can explore in small groups, doing what we want to do, making decisions about long waits and whether it is worth it; having fun; but most of all creating new relationships that will last a lifetime.
Along with everything else on the very busy schedule, we have confessions, a beautiful Blessed Sacrament Procession, Benediction taking place on the last day and Night Prayers.
Every year, one of the girls I met that first time - who is now one of my closest friends - begins the countdown at least a month before. My friends are going to be there for me my whole life… How do I know this? We may not see it each other often, we may not be able to walk to each other’s houses but we value our friendships with each other. Our friendship is truly special. If I hadn’t gone to the Faith Summer Break that first year, if I had decided that I didn’t want to try something new, my life would be a whole lot different now because I wouldn’t have met truly wonderful people.