On August 24, 2018, 300+ students attended the ALPHA retreat at Benedictine College.
At the beginning of every Fall semester, Campus Ministry at Benedictine College puts on an opening retreat for new students. This retreat, consisting of mostly freshmen, is an opportunity for students to start off their college career on the right foot, inviting the Lord into their hearts and lives. Saint Paul’s Outreach led the charge with a collaboration of Missionaries and student-leaders to make the night a success! Running for just a few hours on a Friday evening, the retreat was packed with talks, witnesses, small groups, confession, worship, and tradition.
Student leaders, Anna Laughery and John Walling, kicked off the night as the emcees -- jokingly inviting the students to vote which was the better of their home-states: Texas or Minnesota? (Texas won, by the way). The night then progressed with talks by students Monica Loesel and Jonathan Jesik, as well as a witness by FOCUS missionary Paul Wessel. This year’s talks focused on considering the power of the Father’s love for us and of our identity which is found only in Him as His sons and daughters. After hearing these moving messages, the students broke up into small groups for a short time of reflection and sharing with each other. Soon to come was the anticipated highlight of the night -- Adoration and Confession.
As the music team broke into songs of reverent worship, the congregation was oriented to reflect on the Father’s endless and perfect and “reckless” love for each of us. Under the canopy of a massive white tent, the power of God’s peace was evident as attendees prayed for an outpouring of the Spirit. While peals of worship and adoration continued, students also had the opportunity to attend confession with one of the priests present at individual candle-lit stands.
The retreat closed with the traditional signing of the San Damiano cross from Memorial Hall’s Adoration Chapel. The back of the cross (pictured) is covered with signatures of students who have given their lives to Jesus.
Immediately following the retreat were the ALPHA after-parties hosted by SPO men’s and women’s households. The night continued for just a couple more hours as students gathered in fellowship around bonfires and on the dance floor!