Each February, Saint Paul’s Outreach holds its annual Fan into Flame retreat to give students a chance to awaken their faith and encounter God’s love. Emily Schafer, a junior at Ohio Dominican University, made her first Fan into Flame retreat in February 2010. I went on my first Fan into Flame February my freshman year at Ohio Dominican University. I had been coming around to SPO’s One Gospels and Women’s Nights, participating in Morning Prayer with the women at ODU, and, after having just heard of the idea of doing so, was slowly but surely trying to start and establish a personal prayer life. All of this was great but I knew that something was missing and that I wanted to grow deeper in my faith, but I didn’t really know how.
At One Gospel they announced the Fan into Flame retreat that would be coming up in a couple months. It sounded pretty cool and that it would be a good thing to go on. So, after talking to some of the other women at ODU who had been before, I decided to sign up. Little did I know that it would be such a weekend of conversion in my life. The entire weekend was wonderful: I heard talks that really began to stir things in my heart and I was able to process through them in my small group, we celebrated Mass, and there were some beautiful times of prayer and worship. During a specific time of prayer I can confidently say that I went from knowing about God to knowing the person of Jesus Christ. I encountered the true and living God in a way I never had at any point before in my life, and I was filled with an overwhelming amount of love and joy in my soul. I knew the Lord’s love as never before!
My newfound relationship with the Lord didn’t stop on this weekend – it has continued ever since. This retreat, and the second Fan into Flame I went on my sophomore year, is still having an effect in and through me to this day. As a result of this encounter I had with Our Lord, I was filled with so many graces. I was filled with new desire to go to Mass more as the True Presence of the Eucharist became so much more of a reality to me and the scriptures began to come alive to me as it seemed every time I opened to a passage, it related to my life. I was experiencing the Word of God being alive and active. I had a deepened desire and zeal to spread the good news of the Gospel and to share with others the love of God which I had come to know in a new and real way. One of the huge impacts that Fan into Flame has had on my life is the realization of the need to surrender my entire life to God, to truly allow Him to be Lord of my life. In my walk of faith since this retreat I have realized that it is not a one-time surrender, but an everyday surrender.
Fan into Flame changed my life, it made everything I had ever learned about our faith make sense because I was able to see it in context of a loving relationship with God, a God who infinitely loves me and desires to lavish His graces upon me. Fan into Flame was a beautiful experience and I praise God for the gift that it was and continues to be in my life!
It’s not too late to sign up! You can register for Fan into Flame (Feb 1st-3rd) here!
-submitted by Emily Schafer, ODU Student Missionary