By Katherine DeFonzo
Retreats allow you to attain a greater sense of self-awareness, which can be achieved even if you are not Christian (Courtesy of Fordham Campus Ministry).
This past weekend, Fordham Retreat Ministry gathered to wish the seniors goodbye, as well as welcome the new retreat leaders for the upcoming year.
Although this meeting is always bittersweet, it is also very refreshing. It reminds the ministry group as a whole about the positive impact that retreats can have on all people from different backgrounds.
Retreats can be so valuable for students who do not consider themselves spiritual or religious because such a strong sense of community is formed over the course of the weekend.
Everyone on the retreat begins the experience a bit unsure about what to expect, perhaps a little nervous, but by the end of the weekend, there is a genuine and very unique bond among students who might not have even known each other before.
This comes from an openness to self-discovery. No two people are looking or hoping for exactly the same thing when they choose to go on a retreat, but there is an understanding that everyone is there to help one another and journey together towards whatever that hope for the weekend might be.
Prayer is often an important part of retreats, especially retreats such as Emmaus which are more focused on spirituality than on community, but retreat leaders encourage those who might not be comfortable praying to simply offer up a good thought or intention and to talk about God or the divine as best they understand.
While it might seem like a leap of faith for students who are not Christian or who identify as agnostic or atheist to go on a retreat, I think it is an important part of the college experience to take advantage of such opportunities and to see them as an opportunity for personal growth.
There is so much to be learned from others who might not share your beliefs!
Everyone should do at least one retreat during their time at Fordham because regardless of whether or not you consider yourself to be spiritual or religious, or even if you are still confused about where you stand with your relationship with God or a higher power, retreats allow you to take a step back and reflect on these sorts of important questions.
As college students, it is rare that we get the chance to do this; our schedules are jam-packed from the moment we get up to the moment we go to sleep. We are running from class to a meeting to another meeting, sometimes barely able to take a moment to sit down and reflect. Retreats give you the unique opportunity to do this.
Even if you know in the back of your mind that you have a lot due in the coming week after the retreat, at the retreat house in Goshen, the only pressure you feel is to allow yourself to set all other worries aside and be present, treasuring every moment as it comes.
There is time for small and large group discussions during retreats that can lead you to important realizations about yourself, your relationship with God, your relationship with your family and friends and your relationship with the world.
The talks given by retreat leaders can also be very valuable. They remind you that everyone is struggling in some way, and that everyone has their own kind of burden to bear. It is immensely comforting to be reminded that you’re not alone.
Katherine DeFonzo, FCRH ’18, is a history and Spanish literature major from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.