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Campus Ministry cancels Encounter

Charlie Ducey | Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Office of Campus Ministry cancelled the Notre Dame Encounter (NDE) retreat last semester in an effort to better serve the spiritual needs of students, associate director of undergraduate ministry Tami Schmitz said.

“We wanted to give students the best possible retreat experience, and the NDE seemed to be missing the mark,” she said.

At the time of the inception of NDE, Schmitz said the retreat was one of few offered on campus. But in the years since, Campus Ministry has expanded its retreat options, which now include the Freshman Retreat, Sophomore Roadtrip, individual hall retreats and the Senior Retreat.

As a result of the wider selection, Schmitz said the level of interest in NDE, formerly the office’s flagship retreat, has declined.

“Our students are still faith-filled and interested in spending time with God and exploring discernment,” she said. “We just need to respond to what the students desire in a retreat experience.”

The retreat’s length also factored into the decision to cancel it, Schmitz said. NDE lasted for two nights, unlike some of the newer retreats.

“It is becoming more and more difficult for students to ‘give up’ an entire weekend,” Schmitz said. “We may have to look at doing one overnight or a day or an evening of reflection instead of the full weekend.”

But junior Cindy Stanley, a previous participant in NDE, said the weekend was well worth it.

“The retreat provided me with the perseverance to power through the rest of an academically difficult sophomore year,” she said. “I’m heartbroken for my friends who wanted to attend the retreat this year but will not have the chance.”

Although some students like Stanley expressed disappointment in the cancellation, Schmitz said she is hopeful the end of NDE will allow Campus Ministry to further develop engaging spiritual experiences. Campus Ministry has already developed a new retreat titled “A Weekend with the Word,” she said.

“The format consists of having a ‘retreat master’ give a series of talks on a particular faith topic,” Schmitz said.

Fr. Joe Corpora will lead one of these retreats focusing on the parables from April 12-14.

Schmitz said the cancellation of NDE marks the beginning of an exciting time when retreats are becoming more numerous and tailored to the spiritual desires of students. Campus Ministry’s mission must continually adapt to these needs, she said.

“We need to understand their current spiritual needs and stay relevant so that we can respond to these needs in meaningful and effective ways,” Schmitz said.