At the beginning of November, the women of SPO New Jersey’s Formation Program went on a retreat. The retreat was a powerful time of prayer, talks, and fellowship that sought to help the women go deeper in their faith and relationship with Our Lord. The following testimonies, by Seton Hall juniors Tara Curry and Carolyn Galbo, speak of the grace and power of the weekend:
The Power of Christ
By Tara Curry
This year I had the privilege of attending the SPO Women’s Fall Retreat, which was truly a turning point in my faith. The weekend offered me the opportunity to grow deeper in my relationship with God in addition to my remarkable sisters in Christ. The environment of courageous and faithful women in a college environment served as a powerful example of the power of the Lord and the gifts He has in store for me.
I could truly feel the power of Christ working in my life at this retreat, through the relevance of the talks by the Mission Leaders and the genuine support they offered throughout the weekend. The talks were all focused on the idea of Christ’s victory over the devil, conveying Christ’s power and abounding love for humanity. Ironically enough, the week leading up to the retreat I was experiencing spiritual disruption, one of the tactics of the devil attempting to hinder my relationship with God. Michela, one of the Mission Leaders, mentioned that prior to a major spiritual conversion in our lives the devil will work to delay this spiritual revelation from occurring. The week before the retreat I kept questioning the importance of going to this retreat and wondering, “Will it really matter if I don’t go?” and, “There are so many other things I could get done this weekend instead.”
Little did I know that this retreat would be where I truly felt Christ’s love for me and all the love and forgiveness He still has in store for me. The talks offered numerous scriptural reference to the Lord’s sacrifice for us including John 3:16, which I had heard numerous times before but never really appreciated until the Mission Leaders incorporated it into their talks regarding the Lord’s abounding love for us through His sacrifice.
Adoration was where I got to take all the facts and scripture presented in these talks and sit with the Lord and speak with Him about how I could take all that I learned this weekend back to my day-to-day life as a college student bogged down with exams, papers, and extracurricular activities. Then the Lord revealed to me that He has blessed me with the amazing community of Saint Paul’s Outreach on my college campus, a body of young individuals who strive to serve the Lord through His mission. The Mission Leaders who put on the retreat, the amazing faithful women who attended, and the Lord’s power all worked together that weekend to leave me feeling spiritually renewed and recommitted to a life of daily prayer and living by God’s will for me.
Let Go and Trust in Me
By Carolyn Galbo
I had the privilege of attending a women’s retreat weekend with the incredible women and Missionaries of Seton Hall University. Honestly, at first I had not given much thought to going, but a girls' weekend away for practically free with food provided? As a college student, that in itself was enough for me! Then add the aspect of prayer, worship, and growing in sisterhood with those who truly value my friendship and I was set - let’s do these retreats once a month!
Throughout the weekend there were a variety of talks on the strength we have as women and how to live as women of faith in a world where we are persecuted for our beliefs. We spent time in reflection, asking ourselves, “Are we striving to be saints? “What are our fears and how can we combat them?” These are the questions I focused on during my personal prayer time. As a college student, I have many fears: being successful in school, finding a job after graduation, and meeting my future husband and starting a family. I learned that dwelling on these fears were clouding my ability to see the truth of God’s love and mercy in my life. I now know that He is in charge and that He will take care of me, guide me, and give me the strength to protect myself against worldly temptation. The girls in my Formation small group were so supportive in listening to my issues and offering bits of advice on how to persevere and remain strong. Likewise, I was eager to hear about their fears and dreams so I could offer advice and prayers; we look out for one another after all. During adoration, I prayed for the strength to walk away from those who direct me away from God and I offered up my worries and stress to His mercy.
Each woman on this retreat had something special to offer. Each of us is so very different, but we each show our love and respect for God and our faith in different ways; some through song, others through sports, and even others through quiet prayer and devotion. We naturally seek to be unique in our own ways, teaching each other different ways to love the Lord and express His truth.
One of the biggest points that spoke to me on this weekend was said in a Missionary testimony. She explained that in order to find the shadows lurking in our lives we must merely turn on the light - seek the love of God the Father - and He will show us where the darkness hides and how to step away from it. Sometimes it seems as though my shadows will overcome me and make me disappear. Somehow opportunities like this retreat always seem to come to light when I need it most, like I was meant to be there. I see these opportunities and my ability to take hold of them as God’s way of telling me, “Let go and trust in Me, for I will give you reassurance and graces in your mission when you need it the most.”