I hope you had a nice weekend! I certainly did! This past weekend, I led Divinely Designed – a women’s retreat run by the University of Scranton’s Campus Ministries program. Honestly, leading this retreat was the best experience I’ve ever had.
Nine other girls, myself, and Amy (our Campus Minister) had been planning this retreat since the beginning of last fall semester. When I was asked to be on team for the retreat, after attending Divinely Designed as a candidate last February, I had no idea what to expect. I was filled with a range of emotions: nervousness, excitement, uncertainty. But I knew that being part of the team was an experience I could not pass up.
To plan for the retreat, starting at the beginning of this past fall semester, we met once a week for two-three hours. Each meeting revolved around a different retreat topic pertaining to women such as voice, body-image, relationships, etc. The team would discuss our own experiences with these topics at every meeting.
At the end of last semester, five of the ten team members were asked to write a talk pertaining to one of the various topics we discussed at the meetings. I was asked to write a talk, and again, I was filled with nervousness, excitement, uncertainty, and quite honestly – more nervousness. My talk was on a super personal topic, and I was scared to confront it and speak about it out loud in front of the entire retreat. But my team was so incredibly supportive, and after thinking about it, I agreed to write the talk.
So after months and months of planning, the retreat finally arrived! About 40 candidates arrived at Chapman Lake at 4:30PM last Friday, ready to kick-start the weekend. And it was amazing. The entire weekend was amazing. So many people opened up and shared their stories, and by the end of the weekend we all felt so connected to each other. After I gave my talk, everyone rushed to hug me. Never have I ever felt so much love, support and acceptance in my entire life. Seeing so many Scranton students come together on this retreat was absolutely beautiful, and I feel so incredibly fortunate to have led and been part of the experience.
I think something that really exemplifies how much the retreat impacted our Scranton community were the affirmation letters we all wrote each other on the retreat. At the beginning of the retreat, we all made affirmation mail boxes, where anyone on the retreat could write you a little love note, affirming you as a woman. Reading all of my affirmations after the retreat was such a humbling yet empowering experience. So many people shared that they had been through similar things as me, and reading their stories made me feel so much more connected to them. Now, seeing the girls from the retreat on campus, we greet each other with lots of hugs and love. Where I once regarded these girls as strangers, I now feel so close to them emotionally, and I feel so lucky to have expanded my Scranton family.
Retreats are honestly my favorite way to meet other Scranton students. Scranton students are so inspirational. It is really such a beautiful thing to get to know people so deeply and intentionally on retreats. I love that at the University of Scranton, when we return from the retreats, we still make the effort to keep close to those we went on the retreat with. There are no “Breakfast Club” worries – I am never left asking “Will we still be friends after this weekend?” No. The Scranton community takes care of each other, and I truly love and admire that about our campus. It is so comforting.
Here are some pictures from this amazing weekend:
The retreat team
Everyone who attended the retreat
Have a lovely week!