PrismND to sponsor LGBTQ retreat
Lesley Stevenson | Friday, February 28, 2014
PrismND, Campus Ministry and the Gender Relations Center (GRC) will co-sponsor the first 24-hour retreat for students of the LGBTQ community this April.
Students who do not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) are also welcome to participate, PrismND’s spirituality committee chair Steven Fisher said.
“It’s Notre Dame’s mission to nurture an inclusive campus for every individual student,” Fisher, a sophomore, said. “Recognizing that the current campus climate for LGBTQ students presents its strengths and challenges, the retreat opens an opportunity to foster a sustained and active LGBTQ community at Notre Dame, one where individuals can find support, fellowship and even friends to laugh with while engaging questions of personal growth.”
Ed Mack, Campus Ministry’s assistant director of pastoral outreach, said PrismND’s spirituality committee approached him last fall to explore the possibilities of collaborating on a retreat for LGBTQ students. Fisher said the group believed a retreat would offer a new way for PrismND to serve Notre Dame’s LGBTQ community.
“We made a choice to create a retreat where LGBT students could come to reflect and rest, and begin to share their questions and experiences with faith, spirituality and sexuality,” Fisher said. “To accomplish this in the context of community — we hope — will foster a deeper sense of fellowship among LGBT students at Notre Dame.”
Fisher said members of PrismND’s spirituality committee drew inspiration from previous retreat experiences with Campus Ministry but planned activities specifically to offer the LGBTQ community “an intellectual, spiritual and social experience.”
“We have tailored this retreat to serve and respect a diverse LGBT community with a variety of experiences regarding faith, spirituality and sexuality, including those that are Catholic and non-Catholic,” he said. “Retreatants can expect to listen to the personal stories of four speakers, reflect on their experiences with their peers, engage unique experiences of prayer, relax and simply socialize in a home-like atmosphere.”
Mack said having a retreat would offer an appropriate venue for participants to confront and reflect on issues they face every day.
“I think many people search for meaning in life, as well as trying to deepen their relationship with God and others,” he said. “A retreat is a great way to dedicate some special time to thinking about, and discussing, the place of God and others in my life and the meaning of my life.”
Mo Doyle, the GRC’s assistant director for LGBTQ student concerns, said the GRC agreed to support PrismND in planning the retreat because the GRC’s mission aligned perfectly with those of both PrismND and the retreat itself.
“The GRC seeks to engage the campus in respectful dialogue and to build a community that fully honors the human dignity of each person as a child of God,” she said. “As such, co-sponsoring an event aimed at providing participants the chance to reflect on the intersectionality of sexual orientation, gender identity and spirituality in an environment that is safe, supportive and welcoming falls directly in line with the mission of our office.”
Doyle said the LGBTQ retreat could become an annual event if PrismND and student demand support the venture.
“Since the LGBTQ retreat is one originated by students to address a specific student-identified need, the continued support of student leaders around campus would be crucial in maintaining this as an annual event,” she said.
Doyle said the 24-hour retreat would be held April 11-12 at the Sacred Heart Parish Center. Students interested in participating can visit http://campusministry.nd.edu/undergraduate-resources/retreats-pilgrimages/lgbt-retreat/