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Campus Ministry hosts GLB retreat

Maddie Hanna | Friday, February 4, 2005

The eighth annual Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Retreat, running tonight through Saturday, serves an important role at Notre Dame, according to the event’s organizers.”I think it’s a very special part of Notre Dame that we can have a retreat like this,” Day Zimlich, student organizer of the retreat, said.Zimlich, who went on the GLB retreat two years ago, emphasized the progressive nature of having a retreat about Catholicism and homosexuality, two elements often seen as having conflicting values. He complimented Campus Ministry for providing the opportunity for such a “large interface between academics, faith, and hot topics.”Regarding his personal experience, Zimlich said that a retreat like this can help students better understand their beliefs.”I just know – at least for me – it was a struggle to be Catholic and gay at first,” Zimlich said, “but learning about my faith with respect to my sexuality really helped bridge the two.”Andy Magee, another student organizer and first-time participant, agreed with Zimlich about the retreat’s importance.”Being gay at a Catholic institution presents a lot of problems,” Magee said. “This retreat provides a forum to discuss those problems.”Magee said the concept of the retreat was not much different from those held for women or Latinos, for example – they all cater to a specific set of needs for a particular group of students.While the retreat will have a Catholic perspective, Magee said that no one will be forced to participate in the retreat’s traditionally Catholic aspects, such as Mass.”There is an element of Catholicism, but at the same time we realize a lot of people coming on this retreat may not be Catholic, or [may] have issues about Catholicism.”The religious purpose of the retreat, according to Magee, is that “you may be gay, but you can find a place in the Catholic Church if you want to.”However, Magee stressed a welcoming attitude.”We’re not going to cram Catholicism down their throats,” he said.Magee also noted that all students are welcome, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning or straight.Tami Schmitz, campus minister and coordinator of the retreat, said, “I think any time we can give students a time to reflect, a chance to think about what’s important to them, is awesome.”Schmitz, who has been involved in coordinating two other GLB retreats, said that she feels many participants are looking to grow deeper in faith on the retreat.”For those who are struggling, the retreat is a really good place to talk things out, figure out what’s going on in the hearts and minds of this community,” Schmitz said.Both Magee and Schmitz said that the retreat began eight years ago when Campus Ministry came to the Standing Committee for Gay and Lesbian Student Needs asking for suggestions on how to help.”The retreat was a pastoral response to the gay and lesbian community to offer something positive for their experience at Notre Dame,” Schmitz said.As of Thursday, 11 students had signed up for the retreat, according to Schmitz, who said that past retreats have included anywhere from 12 to 25 students.