Dr. Dan Keating Delves into "The True Cost of Discipleship" at New Jersey's Formation Retreat

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:

This retreat was one that I was originally hesitant about attending. I honestly wasn’t expecting the retreat to impact me in the way it did.

In Keating’s talk, “Obstacles to Discipleship,” I found myself facing different obstacles to my relationship with God. From anxiety to low self-esteem to having fears of the future, I nodded vigorously and took notes as Dan Keating discussed how these obstacles hinder us from our relationship with our Father. The road to peace from these obstacles is found through offering them God and prayer.

In “Ventures of Faith,” Keating illustrated and named four ways people live their lives: the Ideal Castle, the Obstacle Course, the Slug, and the Great Adventure. Once again, I found bits and pieces of myself in all the aspects of the talk: how I have built an idealized future with my goals, how I see each day as an “obstacle” of hurdles, and how sometimes I get lost in lack of hope when I let minute problems overcome me. But at the end of the talk I yearned for the great Adventure with God. It was refreshing to remind myself that our lives can be abundantly joyful and adventurous, if lived Christ.

What continues to resonate with me is that I don’t have to be “worthy enough” or at perfect place in my life to turn to God—God has his arms open and ready to embrace me as I am today. God accepts me with all my faults and brokenness and wants me to turn to Him. He yearns for us to delve deeper in our relationship with Him.

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:

As we approached the prayer meeting, I expected praise and worship and adoration to be the same as always. How God proved me wrong! During the prayer meeting, Pat Stucker prayed over me for an openness to God in a few particular areas in my life. I also asked for the grace to be open during adoration because I felt that there was something between me and God. Pat asked God to work in freedom and God certainly responded. I have not experienced the Lord working so powerfully in my life than I did on Saturday Night. I experienced such a deep sense of God as my Father and that brought so much joy to me. I learned so much during the retreat, but I especially learned to never underestimate the Lord’s power through prayer and Eucharistic adoration.

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.