Sending Off the UMN Class of 2017

By Rebecca Zamora, Mission Leader at the University of Minnesota

The spring semester is always a bittersweet time of year: there is much to be grateful for, but there are so many goodbyes to say. The University of Minnesota is graduating an amazing senior class this year. The past four years have been hugely transformative in the history of Saint Paul’s Outreach and the Brotherhood of Hope’s campus ministry here at St. Lawrence in Dinkytown; and a lot of these seniors have been around from the very beginning. They have witnessed a huge increase in attendance at weekly Mass, the birth of our weekly Gopher Catholic Nights, the beginning of Catholic Students United, and the growth of the Household and Formation programs. They have served as executive board officers, team chairs and co-chairs, small group leaders, speakers, and retreat coordinators. They have learned what it is to be welcomed into a loving community and have graciously passed that love of Christ onto many, many, new students.

At the end of each school year, we set aside a Gopher Catholic Night in order to honor the seniors. It takes the form of a "retreat sharing" night: the seniors go up one by one and share the ways that they have been impacted by our community. There was a lot of joy and laughter as the seniors recalled their first few days in college. While there were some common threads between students' testimonies, there were two common denominators throughout all of their stories: 1) The importance of a personal relationship with Christ, and 2) The impact that a community of disciples running after the Lord together makes.

As a Mission Leader, it has been so inspiring for me to watch this particular senior class discern God’s call for their lives. They have been brave and bold in their prayer lives, seeking to be open to whatever the Lord might have for them, and taking many different steps in their faith - even when the direction seemed unclear. Getting to walk with these students as they filled out countless job applications, prepared for many job interviews, and waited patiently for answers has been such a privilege. I am confident that these 25+ young adults are going into the world faithfully following the path that God has set out for each of them.

In this picture below there are engineers, nurses, linguists, marketing strategists, and missionaries. In a couple of months they will be scattered across the country - some even going abroad. There is not a doubt in my mind that they will continue to seek the Lord, even in the trials that come with transitioning into a new phase of life. 

God has richly blessed our community here at the University of Minnesota through these incredible students. They will be greatly missed! Please keep them in your prayers as they go forth from here into the next chapter of their lives!

Lives Changed at Fan Into Flame 2017

Minnesota’s Fan Into Flame retreat always seems to come at the perfect time for students at the University of Minnesota (UMN) and the University of St. Thomas (UST). Just when schoolwork  picks up and stress levels rise, God gives His children an opportunity to: 

  • get away for the weekend
  • to encounter a loving and joyful community (many for the first time) 
  • to enter into a deeper relationship with all three persons of the Trinity

One of our many student leaders, Mitch Gutenberg ( UMN junior) had a few thoughts and reflections from the weekend:

“This was my third Fan Into Flame, and I truly felt prepared for everything  on this retreat. There’s nothing like the first night at the camp where everyone is full of excitement and  anticipation. The mix of nearly 200 students from the University of St. Thomas, University of Minnesota, St. Cloud State University, and a few out-of-town schools all coming together created such a positive energy.

I was a small group leader this time around, and it was incredibly clear to me that God was working in each of my small group men, through different struggles they each carried on their shoulders. They were all very open and willing to share which, to me, showed a great trust in the Lord. Their vulnerability showed me a true belief that this retreat could have a huge affect on their lives.

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    We spent a whole days worth of preparing our hearts for a greater release of the Holy Spirit into our lives through talks and group discussions. Once Saturday night arrived, we joined together for a time of group prayer and worship. I was a little apprehensive going into it. A lot of my small group guys hadn’t had a lot (or any) experience with charismatic prayer. So as we entered into a state of prayer, I welcomed Him to use me however He saw fit in order for Him to work. As we began to pray over one another, I was blown away at the depth which my brothers were willing to invite the Lord into their lives.

    I am always so thankful for this retreat and awestruck by the community of believers that I have been blessed to come to know and call my brothers and sisters in Christ. The atmosphere of this retreat is something that I have only ever experienced when with these men and women who are so whole heartedly giving their lives up to the Lord. There is so much joy, passion, and love that I could never do justice to in mere words. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to have been a part of this amazing experience.”

Check out more pictures on our Flickr page!

Over 600 Celebrate Mardi Gras at SPO's 31st Annual Benefit Banquet

by Liz Falconer, senior at University of St. Thomas

Like many college students on Mardi Gras, I spent Fat Tuesday surrounded by friends, food, and celebration. However, my friends included over 600 Missionaries, students, and supporters of Saint Paul's Outreach (SPO). We shared a glorious feast in downtown St. Paul celebrating the mission of SPO to bring the Catholic faith alive on today's college campuses.

The students and Missionaries in attendance boldly live out their Catholic faith and encourage me to do the same. I can personally attest to the fact that the Lord has done amazing things through the Mission Leaders and Student Missionaries of Saint Paul's Outreach. This community attracts college students who are searching for meaning and purpose by radically living out their faith. It is apparent these people are set apart, because each individual is encased in the truth and joy of a personal relationship with the Lord and encourages others to do the same. For this very reason, I and thousands of other students are drawn to the mission of Saint Paul's Outreach. As a result, it is no surprise that SPO will reach more than 17,000 college students this year alone.

Such success would not be attainable without the support of our generous donors and alumni. Through the donation of time, talent, prayer, and monetary gifts, countless individuals have supported the mission of SPO since its founding in 1985. Being surrounded by 600 of these generous donors was an honor and blessing. Here, I and the other students and Missionaries were given the opportunity to meet these supporters and express our gratitude in person. Throughout the night, I was continuously inspired by the stories of these individuals and their willingness to give so abundantly in faith.

Students and staff of SPO (l-r): Joe Masek, Sean Healy, Andy Kaufer, and Alex Spanton.

Students and staff of SPO (l-r): Joe Masek, Sean Healy, Andy Kaufer, and Alex Spanton.

Students and staff meeting SPO donors.

Students and staff meeting SPO donors.

Each year, the Benefit Banquet honors an individual, couple, or group that embodies the generosity, humility, and spirit of service of the late Bishop Paul Dudley. This year, Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan was selected to receive the Bishop Paul Dudley Servant Leadership Award. Monsignor Callaghan has granted SPO access to the St. Paul Seminary residence halls and chapels for its annual summer conference, the School of the New Evangelization (SNE). This week-long training in August teaches SPO college students how to share the Catholic faith with their fellow classmates. It is through generous and willing servants like Monsignor Callaghan that the mission of Saint Paul's Outreach is made possible. We are so blessed by his support!

Students and staff brought the night to a close by leading the room in a song of worship, "How Great is Our God," by Chris Tomlin. Many joined in, and soon everyone was on their feet, thanking our God for His greatness and abundant blessings. We also thanked all who were in attendance of the banquet and who made the night a success. Without the many hands and hearts investing in Saint Paul's Outreach, this organization would not be where it is today. On behalf of all the SPO students whose lives have been changed, I offer a sincere "thank you!" to everyone who has supported this wonderful organization. 

(l-r): Gordy DeMarais, Monsignor Callaghan, and Bishop Andrew Cozzens.

(l-r): Gordy DeMarais, Monsignor Callaghan, and Bishop Andrew Cozzens.

SPO students and staff lined the stage and led a song of worship at the end of the banquet.

SPO students and staff lined the stage and led a song of worship at the end of the banquet.

Abe gross (left) led a rendition of "Our Lady of Knock" to honor  Msgr. Callaghan (right) after he was awarded the Bishop Paul Dudley Servant Leadership award.

Abe gross (left) led a rendition of "Our Lady of Knock" to honor  Msgr. Callaghan (right) after he was awarded the Bishop Paul Dudley Servant Leadership award.

To see more moments captured from the banquet, click here to view our Flickr album.

What Does a Men's Retreat Even Look Like?

by Max Puffer, SPO student at the University of St. Thomas

When you hear of a “Men’s Retreat” you probably don’t imagine a bunch of college-aged men in a lakeside cabin opening their hearts to Jesus. But that is exactly what happened at the SPO Men’s Retreat in December of 2016! Around 40 men from the University of St. Thomas, University of Minnesota and other colleges went up north to the small town of Cook, Minnesota to grow as brothers in Christ. The retreat started with a nerf war and water pong, setting the stage for sessions with topics such as forgiveness and what it means to be a son of God. After introducing each topic, we broke off into groups of two to discuss and pray. Men were encouraged to reject lies we had listened to in our lives, to stop placing our self-worth and identity in success or money, and instead to place our trust in God’s promises. We reaffirmed each other’s dignity as sons of God and renewed our baptismal vows. The retreat also touched on the difference between bitterness and forgiveness. Men wrote down names of persons they had a difficult time forgiving and prayed an act of forgiveness towards these persons. After gathering back together, we shared how God had entered our hearts and started breaking down what was sometimes years of resentment to replace it with His love and mercy.

We had some extended break time Saturday afternoon to explore the area more and to rest up. Some guys went and played a huge game of football on a frost-covered field at the local high school while others stayed at the cabin to pray and contemplate on what they had heard. After the break, we discussed what it meant to live as beloved sons of God free from condemnation, despite our sins and weaknesses. We had a fantastic dinner and were joined by the local pastor, Fr. Drew, who had come to celebrate Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation with us.

For three hours, we worshipped the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. We had the monstrance set up on a table in the cabin’s living room. We prayed for grace to let all we had learned into our hearts and to let God move us toward being better men living for Him. Men sang praises and chants glorifying God and living in his freedom. After worship, we went out on the porch to smoke cigars and unwind. We made a fire and threw in the booklets we received at the beginning of the retreat as a symbol of God’s mercy and our newfound freedom in Christ. As each guy came up to burn his book, he shared with the group what the Lord had done in him on the retreat. After a good night’s sleep, we celebrated Sunday Mass at the local parish and carpooled for the 4 hour drive back to the Twin Cities. We left deeper in our faith and with the mission of bringing the love and mercy we had received back to our campuses.

Students Set Aside Saturday Nights to Honor the Lord's Day

Students Set Aside Saturday Nights to Honor the Lord's Day

Weekends are often seen as a catch-up time for college students, whether it means spending time with friends, getting extra sleep, or working on homework. However, at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, students in the Saint Paul's Outreach (SPO) community gather on Saturday evenings to participate in a Lord's Day celebration. They put Lord's Day prayer into action. 

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Made for More: Fall Retreat at the University of Minnesota

By Danielle Shupe, senior at the University of Minnesota

Shupe (front left) and the rest of the Fall Retreat planning team

Shupe (front left) and the rest of the Fall Retreat planning team

It is through the love of the SPO community that I found the love of Christ Jesus. As a senior at the University of Minnesota, I look backwards and am eternally grateful to those who reached out to me my freshman year and invited me on the Fall Retreat. They sparked a small flame in my heart, and it has flourished.

That was our aim with this year’s Fall Retreat at the University of Minnesota; to ignite the hearts of new students. Over one hundred students of all ages spent the weekend at a beautiful retreat center in Osceola, Wisconsin. Surrounded by fall colors, we praised and worshipped, heard talks and student witnesses, and spent time together bonding and building up our community.

The theme of this year’s retreat was “Made for More.” We wanted to open the eyes of our students to their own constant search for happiness and to remind ourselves that only the Lord truly satisfies us. Watching from the background as one of the retreat directors, I was so in awe of how the Holy Spirit worked in so many hearts this weekend.

The evening session on Saturday night was especially notable. Accompanied by guitar and piano, we sang our praises and had a time of intercession where we spoke aloud words of thanks to the Lord. After a talk from Father John on the importance of dying to self, we separated into our women’s and men’s small groups. These small, student-led groups spent the weekend discussing what they were hearing and how it was applicable to their lives. Then, in our prayer meeting, the students took turns standing in the middle of their groups and asking the Holy Spirit to work in a specific way in their lives. The students laid hands upon one another and prayed for each other’s intentions. During this time, these students were able to connect with one another and with the Lord, and they were able to become vulnerable and open to His work.

During one short weekend, I saw new students raising their hands during adoration with tears streaming down their faces, freshmen and seniors alike laughing with the priests and sisters during breakfast, and a community opening itself up to new students, allowing no one to be the odd one out. It’s amazing how much the Lord can work in two and a half days if we have the courage to say, "Yes."

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SPO to Celebrate 30 Years of Ministry with Benefit Banquet

All are invited to join SPO Minnesota in celebrating 30 YEARS ON MISSION at our Benefit Banquet on Mardi Gras Tuesday, February 9, in downtown Minneapolis!

During the evening we will also be honoring two of our alumni with the Bishop Paul Dudley Servant Leadership Award:

 
 

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