Retreats in depth
An in-depth description of the different retreats that SJU Campus Ministry has held in the last semester.
FYRE (First Year Retreat Experience) is a special retreat designed for first-year students, focusing on spirituality and community-building. Students spend the weekend off campus to reflect, discuss their personal faith, and participate in a series of talks and activities.
The goals of the FYRE retreat are to welcome in the First Year students and to help them build community amongst their class through praising God and growing in faith together. The first years have had many positive things to say about the retreat when it was all over. They felt renewed in their faith and closer to God. They made new friends and had a ton of fun with the various activities and games throughout the weekend. There was no particular theme for the retreat, but the emphasis was certainly community and igniting the fire within.
The outcome of the retreat was that we had meaningful discussions on what it means to be masculine and feminine and how we can better understand each other's gender. We talked about the importance of breaking down the stereotypes that our culture puts on men and women in order to let people be authentic and ideas for how we can open people up to discussions like the one we were having. There was time for mediation and contemplation with exercises provided from Steven Chase's novel Nature as Spiritual Practice. At the end of the retreat there was a clear sense of community and camaraderie among the participants.
Goals for the Retreat:
1. That the men and women gain a better understanding of what it really means to be masculine or feminine apart from society's expectations.
2. To have the students gain a better understanding of what it means to use nature as a spiritual practice.
3. For the students to have a sense of revival and renewing to help guide them through the next part of the semester.
This ten day retreat to beautiful Holden Village in Chelan, Washington is designed to teach students about stewardship to the land from a Christian perspective. Holden Village, accessed only by ferry is a remote Lutheran community in the Cascade Mountains above Lake Chelan. Holden has an ecumenical focus, inviting people from many traditions to come and be a part of their community. During the retreat we will learn about Holden's sustainability efforts and lend a hand at keeping up these practices. We will have the opportunity to do reflection in one of the most pristine and untouched pieces of land that our country has to offer.
The goal of the Holden Retreat is to learn about the connection between stewardship to the land and God. We will be doing practices that blend nature and spirituality and working with a Lutheran Village on their sustainability efforts. The expected outcomes of this retreat are that the students understand the connection between God and sustainability and recognize that God calls us to care for his creation. Additionally, the hope is that students get the chance to spend time with themselves in reflection and conversation with God. We hope to build community and relationships and have something to carry back with us into our daily lives. The theme for the retreat is sustainability and God in Nature.
The theme for this retreat is solidarity: solidarity with each other and with the poor. To create a community that is concerned for the life and situation of individuals who are impoverished, subjected to gang warfare, and for children who have no positive male role model in their lives.
The trip is centered on the Benedictine Parish of St. James' Food Pantry and New Life of Chicagoland Afterschool Program. The young men come face to face with poverty and how the individuals struggle to survive through the experience how a food pantry is run and the handing out of groceries to clients of the food pantry. Through the afterschool program, the young men are able to become mentors to children who struggle with their grades and the young men become positive male role models to children who desperately need one. The facilitators of the afterschool program talk about the struggles of the children in the gang filled neighborhoods around the facility and the struggles of home life in impoverished Chicago. The trip is wrapped up with a visit to the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. The ministry reaches out to a community affected by violence in the city, and reaches out in mission to the wider Church, working for healing and reconciliation in both. It is located the Back of the Yards/ New City neighborhood of Chicago as the place to live and work - a community that struggles with issues of poverty, gangs, and racial divisions. The young men through this experience gain a wider understanding of justice and a broader purpose for serving the impoverished of Chicago.
The Chicago Men's Service Retreat is a service opportunity in which a group of 12 Johnnies get to experience a faith community in the impoverished areas of Chicago. The goals of this trip are to create a community of peers among Johnnies that enables them to see God's presence in the eyes of the poor; it is to expand their understanding of urban poverty in the United States and how it affects the children of these neighborhoods. This trip also enables the young men to be Christ to others and hopefully continue this practice through the rest of their lives. Through daily reflection, the trip becomes a retreat as we look back on our day and our lives and how we can see God in others and in ourselves.