Eighth Grade hosts first off-campus retreat at Villanova

Joe Lister

The Eighth Grade closed out Bridge Week with their first retreat at Villanova University to focus on the connections between Malvern, Villanova, and St. Augustine.

“It’s kind of our big brother school,” Eighth Grade Academy teacher Mr. Gary Duda said, referencing Villanova University, where the Eighth Grade traveled to close out their Bridge Week.

“As a Malvern alum myself, I thought it was very important for [the Eighth Grade] to finish Bridge Week with a retreat,” he said. “So we decided as an Eighth Grade Academy team that the most appropriate time to do it would be the Friday of Bridge Week.”

Duda said that he was pleased with the final outcome of the retreat: “I thought it was a huge success,”

The retreat featured speakers Mr. Vic D’Ascenzo ’81, Denis Ostick ’13, and Mr. Rob Tribuiani ’86, all of which attended Malvern and attended, or are currently attending, Villanova.

“I think guys were really receptive to the messages from each one of the speakers,” Duda said. “I thought they hit home… in some way shape or form.”

Duda said that he had looked at other speakers, but was happy with the three he got.

“I hope our Eighth Graders got something out of the day,” he said.

Eighth grader Chris Buysse said that he enjoyed the retreat.

“I thought the retreat was a very good experience,” he said. “We learned a lot about people coming from Malvern into Villanova and what Villanova was all about.”

“My favorite part was listening to [Ostick] talk because he just came out of Malvern and he knew a lot of the same things we knew,” Buysse added.

Eighth grader Chris Ayres also said that he appreciated the trip to Villanova. “We got a lot of time to reflect and think about what it means to be at Malvern,” he said. “They really gave us some good insight on how Malvern is just like Villanova,”

“I really enjoyed listening to the speakers,” Ayres added. “It was a really good bonding experience and it really enhanced my sense of brotherhood.”

Mr. Jimmy White ’08 came to Villanova from Notre Dame to help with the spiritual aspect of the retreat while he was on his Spring Break.

He said that he first found out about a retreat while talking to Eighth Grade Dean Mr. Rob Buscaglia. “Mr. Buscaglia and I were talking about how the year was going… we came up with this idea of a retreat.”

White helped plan the retreat, and afterwards he said that he was pleased with the outcome. “I think we’ve succeeded because I look at how each of [the students] responded to the day.”

“Taking the time to step back and reflect and look at ourselves,” he said, “that’s really what’s at the heart of the Augustinian piece.”

White said that his favorite parts of the retreat came towards the end. “Hearing [the eighth grade] guys reflect at the end of the day… the mass was really a powerful experience too.”

White said the attendees learned about the history of the Augustinians.

“Fr. Reilly even talked about how the Augustinians came to the country and reached their hand out to the people on the periphery,” he said. “What better way to symbolize [that same] Unitas by gathering around the altar as we did?”

“I hope that what [the Eighth Grade] experienced last week will make [them] more aware of what it means to be Augustinian,” White added.