'Step up and slow down' and experience God

By The Beacon | April 3, 2012 9:00pm

The Encounter with Christ Retreat helped students take a break from busy schedules

Sean Ducey (The Beacon)

By Sean Ducey, Guest Commentary

It was about 32 weeks ago that we started this school year with a motto shared with student leaders by Fr. Mark Poorman to "step up and then slow down." In this Lenten season we are reminded to take time out of our day to take a breath, slow down and encounter God in our lives.

It was just a week and a half ago when a group of your fellow Pilots attended the Encounter with Christ Retreat and took the opportunity to "step up and slow down." In this time of the semester we are busy with projects, tests and so much more. But even with our busy schedules it is essential that we take time to experience a new retreat and slow down.

It was amazing to just take a breath and get some energy to sail through to the end of the semester. However, encounter is so much more than this. On a deeper level it is for retreatants to encounter Christ in their lives through friends and prayer.

It is easy for us to get caught up in the day to day activities of UP, and oftentimes we will not take a chance to step back and create great relationships. Encounter is an opportunity to just love people for who they are and see the gift that is given to each of us from the people in our lives. As the weekend goes on, the hugs only get tighter, the laughs get longer and the times you spend with your new family will be ones that you will not soon forget.

As a coordinator, I was able to take a step back from the retreat and see the change that people experience from Friday afternoon when we first gather to Sunday evening when we return as a family. As the cherry trees blossom on the quad, you can see the friendships that blossom on the retreat. We came from every different dorm, year and major across campus but in the end it did not matter. It seemed everywhere I looked I saw the amazing presence of God touching us.

The theme song of the retreat was The After's "Lift Me Up," which did not take long to get stuck in everyone's head. As retreatants walked to class on Monday morning, they were still humming the song with new energy and smiles.

We have a unique opportunity next fall, as we are having two retreats for you to participate in. Take an opportunity during your college career to "step up and slow down," go deeper with friends and try a new experience. This is an amazing retreat program and I highly encourage you to apply. Applications will be available the first couple of weeks of school on the Campus Ministry website.

As the end of the school year nears, seniors are graduating, students are stressing about finals and we are trying to find summer jobs, it is easy not hang out with friends or to just slow down. Make time to slow down and enjoy the remaining weeks of this semester with this great UP community.

Sean Ducey is a junior communication major. He can be contacted at ducey13@up.edu

This year’s Encounter with Christ Retreat focused on taking time to encounter God in life. There will be another retreat in the fall. Applications will be available on the Campus Ministry website at the beginning of next school year. (Photo courtesy of Sean Ducey)