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Students embark on spiritual trip

Jack Rooney | Monday, September 16, 2013

This weekend, a group of approximately 50 sophomores from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s embarked on a figurative and literal spiritual journey to an undisclosed location on Campus Ministry’s signature sophomore retreat, the Sophomore Road Trip.
John Paul Lichon, Campus Ministry’s assistant director for retreats, pilgrimages and spirituality, helped coordinate the Sophomore Road Trip.
“The Sophomore Road Trip is a wonderful retreat to allow sophomores to take a step back as they begin their sophomore year,” Lichon said. “[Sophomore Road Trip] is really a chance to think about ‘Am I the person I really want to be?’ Our biggest hope is that a retreat is a genuine encounter with God.”     
Sophomore theology major Irina Celentano said the trip gave her a better perspective on her own life and the lives of others.
“[The trip] gave me the time to step back and become more acutely aware of myself and what things I can change or improve on, but it also showed me how much progress I’ve made,” she said.
Celentano said she went on the retreat in order to clarify her own goals and faith and to grow closer with her classmates.
“I wanted to know what other people are going through and where they are on their various life journeys. I wanted a better appreciation of other peoples’ stories,” she said.
Students do not know where the road trip will end until they actually arrive for the retreat, Lichon said.
“It provides a nice analogy for our faith. There are twists and turns and ups and downs, but you get where you need to go,” Lichon said.
In addition to enhancing to the intrigue and excitement of the retreat, Lichon said Campus Ministry designed this aspect of the retreat with a certain message in mind.
“There’s a sense of mystery behind [Sophomore Road Trip], and some students come to find out what it is all about,” Lichon said.
Lichon said the mission statement of the Sophomore Road Trip, written by the junior and senior leaders of the retreat, reads: “Through reflection informed by Holy Cross Spirituality, the University of Notre Dame Sophomore Road Trip provides students with tools to navigate the twists and turns of their vocational journey towards completeness in Christ.”
Celentano said the mystery surrounding the destination of the retreat added a sense of unity to the weekend.
“There’s something kind of exciting about not knowing where you’re going but still knowing you’re all going there together,” she said.
Like all Campus Ministry retreats, Sophomore Road Trip is entirely student-led. Lichon said the team of leaders for this weekend’s Sophomore Road Trip began meeting before students left for summer break last year and continued as soon as the school year began in August.
Celentano said the retreat revolved around a series of talks and group discussions but maintained a well-balanced dose of individual prayer, team-building exercises and discernment.
“We had a lot of talks from the leaders on vocation and discernment and taking a step back to see where we are in our lives,” Celentano said.
There are other opportunities to attend Campus Ministry retreats this year.
“If people miss Sophomore Road Trip, they can go on a preached retreat, silent retreat or one of the pilgrimages over breaks,” Lichon said.
Registration is now open for the Oct. 4 through 6 Sophomore Road Trip on the Campus Ministry website.