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Campus Ministry creates new retreat for freshmen

| Thursday, October 15, 2015

Notre Dame Campus Ministry will hold the first-ever freshman mini-retreat, called the Tender, Strong and True Retreat, on Oct. 30, according to Alex White, senior campus ministry intern for retreats, pilgrimages and spirituality.

“This year, we are holding a freshman mini-retreat that will only be seven or eight hours long,” White said. “The hope of that was to have a more intensified retreat experience, giving the participants the ability to feel like they can give time to the experience, while still allowing time for their studies.”

White said the switch to a mini-retreat came after the spirituality study conducted by Campus Ministry last semester revealed that students wanted to attend retreats, but often struggled with lengths of the events.

“[The spirituality study] found that a lot of students expressed difficulty in personal prayer,” White said. “Notre Dame prays well as a community, as seen during Father Hesburgh’s funeral and whenever students rally around sexual violence on campus. However, many people expressed trouble with personal prayer. This retreat is to help freshman foster a sense of individual prayer and an individual relationship with God.”

White said there will be a more individualistic feeling to the retreat, which is designed to engage participants in personal reflections.

“It is going to be different than other retreats students may have experienced in the past, simply because it is a mini-retreat. There will be a small group, there will be student witnesses, there will be time specifically set aside for personal prayer,” White said. “However, this whole retreat is geared towards incorporating God into your life, so freshman can expect to reflect on their life and what is important to them and how they feel they can incorporate God into any part of their life that they feel He belongs in.”

White said the retreat will focus on three aspects of freshman life: academics, faith and social life.

“This particular mini-retreat is called the Tender, Strong and True Retreat. Each of those three parts — which are taken from our Alma Mater — correspond with the three movements of the retreat. Therefore, we want them to at least start to think about how they can incorporate their faith into their social sphere, their academic sphere and the place where god is supposed to take precedence, like in the church or during a retreat. We have the academic part which is tender, the retreat part, which is strong, and the social part, which corresponds to true.”

White said the retreat will emphasize the “movement” between the three segments by making the freshman physically move around campus to different areas that correspond with the retreat.

The retreat will be held in DeBartolo Hall, Jordan Hall of Science and Coleman-Morse Center, with a concluding prayer service in the Basilica. There will also be a social afterwards, designed to create community among students after a more individually focused retreat, White said.

“We wanted to put students in the environment that they are actually going to be in during classes,” he said. “So for the academic portion of the retreat, we wanted to have the place reiterate what we were hoping the students to reflect upon, which is God incorporated into their studies — how can they be a good Christian and a good student at the same time.

“It’s a big transitional time in their lives and there is a lot being thrown at them at college. We want to help them incorporate faith into their lives.”

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