Established by Father John Ulrich, S.M., the current chaplain of Marist School, the inaugural Emmaus retreat took place in spring 1978 at Camp Mikell in Toccoa, Georgia. Throughout the years, Emmaus has evolved, becoming a beloved component of the Marist experience under the guidance of Campus Ministry and the committed leadership of student Retreat Leaders. A poignant testament to the significance of this milestone in Marist School history, Fr. Ulrich presided over the Mass for Emmaus 200, adding a fitting marker to the ongoing legacy of this spiritual retreat.
Fr. Ulrich's presence at Emmaus 200 added a meaningful touch, connecting the past and present of this spiritual tradition. Fr. Ulrich acknowledged the prayerful spirit of the retreat, stating, “It was a special experience saying I was there for the first Emmaus and back for the 200th. We prayed for all students who have attended Emmaus, and especially for those on the first Emmaus.”
Mary Evans Bucko ’24, a Retreat Leader, highlighted the significance of having Fr. Ulrich present at Emmaus 200, stating, “Being able to have Fr. Ulrich there with us was special because he went on the first Emmaus 45 years ago. He was able to serve the Mass on Sunday, and we got to spend time with him learning more about Emmaus.”
The heart of Emmaus lies in its monthly faith-sharing meetings and the culminating weekend retreat open to juniors and seniors. Retreat Leader Camron Abshier ’24 shared, “Whether it be the memories I made with the fellow leaders both before and after the retreat, the story of our legendary Buc-ee's stop, or simply the time I spent with my group discussing all our favorite Marist memories, Emmaus 200 was a weekend that will always live in my memory. It truly was a moment that will remain frozen in time for all who attended.”
Patrick Roche ’25 echoed the significance of the bonding between the retreatants, saying, “I enjoyed Emmaus immensely for a number of reasons. The most prominent reason was growing closer with my classmates, both juniors and seniors.”
Emmaus 200 is a shining example and meaningful milestone reflecting the lasting influence of Marist students’ spiritual formation. Jonathan Lee ’25, a junior participant, shared his experience, expressing, “The Emmaus retreat has certainly built a reputation for being an essential part of the Marist experience, so I had extremely high hopes...These expectations were easily surpassed as Emmaus 200 became a place where I could grow in my relationship with my peers, in my spirituality, and in my own identity as a Marist student.”
Max Mraz ’25, a junior participant, reflected on the profound impact of Emmaus, sharing, “Emmaus was a remarkable weekend for me where I made new friends and was able to reflect on my personal growth and faith.” Mraz also emphasized the historical importance of Emmaus 200, highlighting its connection to Blessed Trinity, the retreat's location that has been a consistent venue for Marist retreats since 1980.
Senior Alexander Lee ’24 found the location of the retreat to be particularly resonant. “Emmaus allows for a freeing experience in nature,” he described. “There was time to bond with friends, walk along railroad tracks, and contemplate under the starry night sky.”
Diverse testimonials of the retreat highlight the multifaceted impact of Emmaus on personal growth, faith, and the sense of community. Retreat Leader Riley King Walker ’24 emphasized the joy of building connections, saying, “I had an amazing time meeting new people throughout the weekend that I usually would not get to know. The co-leaders and moderators I had made everything—from the planning to the actual retreat—so fun!” Even though each leader and participant may resonate with different aspects of Emmaus, these testimonials emphasize the lasting reputation of Emmaus as a valuable element within the Marist experience.
As Emmaus continues to weave its legacy at Marist School, it is essential to note that all Marist retreats, including Emmaus, are voluntary and peer-led. This fact illustrates that participation in these transformative experiences is a personal choice, allowing students to decide to engage in a manner that aligns with their preferences and schedules. Emmaus 200 is a testament to the enduring impact of this tradition, embracing the past, present, and future of Marist students on their spiritual journey.