Written by: Nicki Sanchirico Exsc/Kines ’18, DPT ’21
The University of Scranton (The U) offers retreats to help both undergraduate and graduate students deepen their faith. While The U is a Catholic and Jesuit institution, students of all faiths are welcomed on the retreats! These retreats have served as one of my favorite ways to refresh and reset myself! During my first semester on campus, I signed up for a retreat as a way to meet more people and get involved on campus. This retreat was held at the University’s retreat house at Chapman Lake. I was (and still am) enamored by the retreat house’s beauty! I enjoyed that first experience so much that I ended up leading that same retreat a year later, and I continued to go on at least one retreat per year after that. As a senior, I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to go on retreats in graduate school. Luckily, with just a little bit of time management skills, many of my classmates and I were able to continue our faith journey on retreats during graduate school!
While all of Campus Ministry’s retreats provide students with the opportunity to reflect on their own faith, relationships and life experiences, each retreat has its own theme. Just a few months ago, I went on a single day hiking retreat called Born to be Wild. This past fall, the retreat took place on a hiking trail called “On Top of the World” right near campus. I initially signed up for it without knowing much about the retreat’s topics or area we would be hiking. I mainly signed up because I thought it would be a fun, yet safe activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was right! Throughout the retreat, we listened to talks, self-reflected, participated in group discussions and laughed with new friends. Each leader delivered a witness talk in a carefully selected area of nature to fit the topic of the talk. This allowed me and the other retreatants to have meaningful self and group reflections about finding God in all things.
Most recently, I went on the virtual Endings and Beginnings retreat. This retreat took place via Zoom just a few weeks ago, not long after the change of the New Year. For three days, myself and other retreatants met for an hour. During that hour, we listened to a talk before going into breakout group discussions. While Zoom is certainly not the retreat format Scranton students are accustomed to, students who participated were excited to experience a retreat during a time when many of us were home for our intersession break. For one of my friends, it served as an opportunity to try a retreat for the very first time. For myself, it served as the perfect retreat to close off my retreat experiences at The U before I graduate this spring.
I am continuously thankful and loved all the retreats that I have been on, and it is hard to pick just one favorite; however, if I had to choose one, I’d say my personal favorite was Divinely Designed (DD)—a women’s only retreat experience. (Don’t worry men, there’s a retreat called Soul Men just for you!) DD discusses topics that young women face, such as handling relationships, having faith, finding a voice and performing self-care. Ironically, prior to going on this retreat, I didn’t think I’d be very interested in it. For some reason, I could not imagine spending a weekend with only women! However, I decided to go on the retreat after a few of the leaders and past retreatants told me how much they loved it. I ended up loving the retreat itself, and I even became best friends with one of the girls from my small group!
Everyone I know who has been on multiple retreats has either their own favorite retreat or favorite piece of a retreat. Campus Ministries makes sure to offer a wide variety of retreats each year so that there is a retreat for students in every level of their faith journey. For example, some other retreats offered include: Faith and Fables, Manresa, Search, Live it!, Praise and Worship, Athlete’s and many more. Whether stepping outside your comfort zone means going on a retreat for the very first time, or whether it means going on a retreat where you don’t know what to expect, I highly recommend going on at least one retreat that is outside your comfort zone during your time at Scranton! For me, some of the best “Scranton magic” happened when I took that leap of faith!