For Seton Hall Missionaries and students, New York City, the U.S.’s most populous and influential city, is just a train ride away. On March 26, 2018, three Seton Hall Missionaries traveled to NYC to participate in an afternoon of evangelization outside Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. At the Cathedral, confessions were being heard all day as it was “Reconciliation Monday” across the Diocese. SPO Missionaries along with religious brothers and sisters, businessmen, and other lay people teamed up to invite pedestrians to Jesus’s love and mercy through the sacrament of Confession.
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By Brian Delfs, Senior at Seton Hall
At Seton Hall University, midterms are well underway with the promise of spring break just around the corner. But this isn’t the first chance students will have gotten to get away from campus, from February 2nd to February 4th, SPO NJ hosted its annual Fan Into Flame retreat!
This year’s Fan Into Flame was unique for a few reasons. First, and probably most importantly, the retreat was almost entirely student run! Our Emcees, senior Adam Wiernasz and junior Laura Guempel, were at the helm, supported by a leadership team comprised of over twenty students.
Laura shares her experience leading Fan into Flame:
Each year at Fan Into Flame, students are invited to enter into an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The talks begin by introducing the retreatants to a very, very simple concept that is at the same time eternally complex and important. You ready? God loves you. As Junior Spencer Ochner put it in his Jesus is Lord talk, “Say it with me. God loves you.” With that in mind, students were led to experience how God’s love can be both experienced and also responded to. Students Elisa Maguigad, Gabe Natural, and Dan Folta offered students different perspective of the ways God can love us.
After proclaiming the Truth of God’s love, Fan into Flame provides students with an opportunity to respond to that love. Graduate student Miguel-Lorenzo (Meeko) Natural, introduced students to a new way to respond: glorifying God through expressive praise. The retreat was rounded out by Senior Dave Miller, who explained how we, as a community of students, live out the Gospel every day on Seton Hall’s campus through outreach events, Thursday night campus ministry events, and our Household program, to name a few. God’s work was clearly evident by the time we began to pack up: student testimonies ranged from thankfulness about being given the opportunity to learn about God all the way to expressing a desire to become Catholic!
Ultimately, faith in God’s power was as abundant as ever on Fan Into Flame this year. Furthermore, the students of Seton Hall are equipped with a newly restored faith in God’s plan, power, and love, and that He is Lord of our lives. Just like senior Dan Folta said to end his talk about believing in God’s gifts: “…believing in God’s plan has always been part of the Christian story, just look to the greatest story of faith ever told: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
The College of Communication and the Arts at Seton Hall University featured an article highlighting Paola Hegedus, a new full-time Missionary at Seton Hall. In December, Paola graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from Seton Hall University. This semester, she begins as a full time Missionary serving as the Women's Household Leader.
Read the article here.
For the second time in New Jersey’s history, St. Peter’s Young Adults, Rutgers Catholic Student Association, Seton Hall SPO, all the SPO NJ Missionaries, and Compass (the young adults of the People of Hope) gathered together for a formation retreat that included a three part talk series about wisdom called “OtherWise.” It was remarkable to see all of these groups (about 140 people in total) fill the St. Peter’s parish hall with joy and excitement for what the Lord had in store for the weekend.
Adam, a Rutgers student remarked, “My favorite aspect of the retreat was the presence of the different communities, and how we were able to come together and praise God. While I may not have been able to meet up with every individual, I was still able to share in the same worship as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I felt as though I was with my family, coming together to learn and to grow.”
Joseph Matthias, a Servant of the Word based in Michigan, flew to New Jersey for the weekend to give some insight on wisdom through the Lord’s perspective. He taught the crowd that wisdom is what ought to be and therefore how we ought to live, that it applies knowledge to real life. This wisdom does not come from within ourselves, but from God, therefore we are not self-wise, but other-wise. This wisdom from God necessitates humility, confidence in God, and a relationship with Christ, who is the wisdom that constitutes the universe.Practically, Joseph taught the young adults that the wise life is a life of ordered habits, passions, and attitudes. A wise life is hopeful, driven by the desires of the Lord, and bring life interiorly and, in turn, to the world around us.
At the close of the weekend, the retreatants had an opportunity to respond to all they learned in the context of a powerful prayer meeting. The Holy Spirit was very present, and came forth through worship, inspired words from many of the young adults, an exhortation by Father John Gordon, and prayers over individuals. It was a spiritually recharging weekend that everybody walked away from with a new understanding of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Jen, a junior at Seton Hall, shared how this weekend impacted her at this busy time of the semester: “As a person who thinks a lot about the future, overthinks situations and problems, and doesn’t turn to God when it comes to herself, this weekend was a reminder that I need to surrender my everything to God. The distinction between having knowledge and being able to use that knowledge and wisdom towards (and in light) of God, are two very divergent things. I found myself recognizing there is a difference between being smart and being God-Smart. Being God-Smart (having the wisdom of God) transcends into all aspects of one’s life - the good and the bad, the victorious moments and the suffering. It’s recognizing that everything leads back to God. At the prayer meeting I opened my hands to God literally in prayer, but I was internally surrendering to Him my anxieties, worries, and stresses - trusting Him who is the all-powerful. Wisdom is truly just recognizing the ubiquity of God in everything, and being constantly aware of the light and control He has on everything, everyone, and every situation we are in.”
Overall, this weekend had a powerful and unifying impact on the communities that attended, and all hope that this is a tradition that continues!
The Catholic Student Association (CSA) at Rutgers puts on a student-led retreat each semester. These retreats are prime avenues for promoting and enabling student leaders as well as creating large scale environments for the entire community to encounter God.
The student leaders began planning this retreat at the end of last Spring Semester, and discerned a theme that really resonated with the retreatants. The theme was “Take Heart: Courage to Be Known”. The two scriptures that really drove the weekend were John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have conquered the world,” and the story of Jesus walking on the water and calling Peter out of the boat from Matthew 14:22. This was a pertinent theme because of the trials that college students today deal with.These range from pressures of the society and school to the fear of the unknown future that so often surfaces throughout this exciting, but challenging stage of life.
Loneliness is an obstacle that this generation of college students faces every day. With the rise of social media and other ways of ‘connecting’ it has become easier to put on a façade of happiness, when in reality there is a deeper longing for community and connection, placed in the human heart by the Lord himself, that goes unfulfilled.
The idea behind this retreat theme was to present to these students a community and a person, Jesus, who can break those barriers down and fill us with true joy and freedom if they are willing to take courage and take a step off the boat when Jesus calls. Those who attended the retreat were encouraged through talks and small groups to have courage to open the door, step out of the boat, and be known by Jesus through vulnerability and receiving love, as well as through the peers that surround them in the CSA community. The retreat provided a great environment for all of those things, being away from the city and at a beautiful camp, disconnected from cell phones and homework, and surrounded by great people who are open and excited about new friendships.
During the retreat, there were times for Eucharistic adoration, Mass, praise and worship, silent prayer, small group discussion, fellowship time, and meditation. On Saturday afternoon, there was also some free time where the students could play sports, hang out and talk, shoot potato cannons (a crowd favorite), go for a walk, and begin to build more organic and authentic relationships with one another
The final talk on the retreat was about how to take all that the students learned and experienced on retreat back to Rutgers, especially through prayer, community, and mission. The students were encouraged not to let the fire go out, and given concrete ways to make resolutions based on what God had worked in their lives, and of course reminded of the community that had surrounded them all weekend, which is a great place to continue to grow alongside one another.
Here are a few quotes from some Rutgers students about the impact that retreat had on them:
“Retreat was a time and space where I was able to allow the Lord to speak truth and encouragement to me. He used that time to tell me new things, but He mostly reaffirmed truths and His deep love for me.” - Micaela, Junior
“I think going into the retreat I was thinking what can I do for Christ, but on the retreat it was refreshing to discover that He loves and knows me first, and that all I do springs from the fact that I am loved first. What a beautiful thing to rediscover!” -Andrew, Junior
“The retreat was an incredible experience that gave me the chance to open myself up and grow closer with other CSA members and the Lord. I was able to truly take heart and be vulnerable during small group discussions, witnesses, and confession.” - Joanna, Freshman
“The retreat was very freeing for me because I took heart and opened up to a group of guys about something that I had bottled up in the past. It allows me now to live more freely as a son of God” - Matthew, Junior
The school year is now in full swing and the 2017-2018 Missionary Corps (made up of Missionaries and student leaders) have been working hard to reach as many new students as possible. In New Jersey, at both Seton Hall University and Rutgers University, the first few opening weeks of school are dedicated to an intense season of “reach” - a time in the mission when the goal is to meet as many students as possible in hopes that they come to know Christ through the SPO community.Read More
Every year the SPO New Jersey chapter hosts a Benefit Banquet, giving the opportunity for students and missionaries to meet current and potential supporters of Saint Paul’s Outreach. This year, on the evening of April 25th, missionaries, partners, and new friends gathered at Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville, NJ.Read More
By Pat Stucker, Mission Leader, Rutgers University
The Saint Paul's Outreach Men’s Household is the best place for a man to live during his time of college.
There, I said it. No holds barred.
If Household could speak, it would say enthusiastically on behalf of each man, “My life is not my own.” Here at Rutgers University, the Household men are on a mission. From hosting parties for over 100 people, to sharing a family style dinner with a few new guests, to taking a fellow student on a Sunday hike, we walk the same mission - to invite people into a relationship with us and with Jesus Christ.
The Men’s Household at Rutgers has been in the running for three years, and we been fortunate to inherit the faithfulness of the men who have lived in the Households before us. This year’s Household has decided to build further upon this faithful foundation. From making a man cave out of our living room (ping pong table and all), to learning how to make some mean breakfasts using a cast-iron skillet, the men of Household have created a refuge of brotherhood which is life giving for both ourselves and all of the guests who walk into our home.
Household has become the place where men want to be, a place where men can live out their faith freely, and a place where they don’t have to worry about looking perfect or overly-pious. Men can truly be themselves here. What we have in Household is the best way of life that can be lived on the campus; one in which we are brothers together, on a mission for the Gospel and laying down our lives in service so that others may truly live.
The men in Household are not just the future leaders of the Church. They are not just the future fathers of our families, not just the future pastors of our parishes, not just the future owners of our businesses. They are not just the Church of the future. They are the Church, now. I believe with great hope that the men of Household at Rutgers University and the Households across the country will renew the faith from cafeteria-Catholicism to an intentional Catholic way of living, integrating faith into everything we do. Thanks be to God!
On November 11 and 12, the Catholic Student Association at Rutgers and Saint Paul’s Outreach came together to put on the Fall Formation Retreat at Saint Paul Inside the Walls in Madison, NJ. The retreat’s theme was “The True Cost of Discipleship.”
129 total participants attended the retreat, 59 of which were students who are involved in Saint Paul’s Outreach at Seton Hall. A majority of these students are committed to the Formation Program - a program for formation in Christian living which includes a bi-weekly teaching, small groups, and regular one-on-one pastoral mentoring.
During the retreat, Dr. Daniel Keating, a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary and a man dedicated to evangelization, gave a series of talks about discipleship. The talks examined life that is lived in discipleship to Christ. Keating challenged the participants to face the obstacles to discipleship in their lives and hold nothing back as they give their lives Jesus Christ. His teachings were practical and woven into the witness of discipleship in his own life. Keating concluded that a life of discipleship is truly an adventure with Christ.
Jen Holbieka, a Sophomore at Seton Hall shares what she took away from the Keating’s teachings about discipleship:
The retreat ended with a prayer meeting Saturday night. Retreatants gathered for a time of praise and worship and Eucharistic Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. This time of prayer allowed retreatants to bring all they had been learning and wrestling with to the Lord and to ask for his grace to live out his call to discipleship.
Dave Miller, a Junior at Seton Hall shares about his experience:
Overall, the retreat was a powerful experience different communities coming together to learn about discipleship and worship the Lord together. Students and young professionals were challenged to hold nothing back, dive into the adventure, and give all of their lives to Christ for the rest of their lives.
Friendship is a topic I have been reflecting on a lot lately. Maybe it's the time of year. Friends are moving on. After seeing each other every day for 9 months you say goodbye for the summer. You finally have time to reflect on the friendships you have made since you came on campus. You are looking forward to seeing old friends back home. All of these things and more have led me to reflect on my friendships and God's purpose for them in our lives.
I have learned a lot about friendship and it's importance in our lives this year. Some of these lessons have been learned through being a good friend, and others have been learned through failing at friendship. However the lesson was learned, I'm glad it was.
Lesson 1: Friends rejoice in one another's joys, and mourn one another's sorrows. This lesson is pretty simple, and biblical (Mat 5:4) but so necessary in friendship! A priest told me this year, "Friends are two bodies and one soul." They should mourn with one another, rejoice with one another. In the little victories (Yay! You got an A on that exam!!) and in the big spiritual victories (Wow! It is beautiful to see you so faithful to your daily prayer!), we should be rejoicing with one another! And when our friends fall we should mourn with them. If it's spiritually falling, pray for them. Doing a small penance for their sin or failure is a beautiful gift to give someone. Moral of the story: their victories are your victories, and their faults are your faults and vice versa!
Lesson 2: Close friends are a gift from God. Sounds super simple (and obvious), but truly they are. Last year was an interesting year for me where I had built a lot of friendships, but not a lot of close friendships. I said a prayer at the end of the year asking God for a companion the next year. And you know what? He answered my prayer! He gave me an amazing friend and companion this year. It's the friends who know you (too) well, who can tell you when you are being ridiculous, who just likes being with you (even if you're not doing anything interesting) that are truly gifts from God. It's not always rainbows and butterflies in those friendships but it's those friendships that make you the best version of yourself.
Which leads me to the last lesson...
Lesson 3: Friends are the surest way to heaven. Not because they tell you how holy you are or because they make you so happy all the time and you just want to love Jesus more. No. More accurately, relationships (friendships specifically) show us the parts of ourselves that we don't like, the parts that are less-than holy, the parts only the people who know us really well can see. They are the sandpaper to our rough edges that help to smooth us out, purify our hearts and rid us of our self-centeredness.
I am so grateful for all of my friendships this past year (both near and far) that have helped me to become more of the woman that God wants me to become. As the summer begins and the new school year approaches, I will be praying for all of my friendships that they would be centered on Christ and others, and lead to our eternal home.
SPO New Jersey hosted their annual banquet, which will be remembered not just as a fundraiser, but a proclamation of the Good News and a joyful invitation to participate in the commission Christ gave to his disciples after His Resurrection, “Go and make disciples...I am with you.”Read More