By Danielle Shupe, senior at the University of Minnesota
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."