Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mary Ann Spanjers assisted with a recent University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Catholic Newman Center Busy Student Retreat. Read about her experience.
The Newman Center Catholic presence on the UW-Stevens Point, WI campus exists to nurture and support the faith of UWSP students. This was done in a profound way during the annual Busy Student Retreat Feb. 3-7, 2013. I was one of nine Sisters, Brother, and Priests who assisted the students with Spiritual Direction.
The week began celebrating Sunday evening Mass; followed by a delicious home cooked meal for the directors and students with an opportunity to set the schedule of meeting times. The evening concluded, as it did each night, with an inspiration sermon preached by Fr. Brian Walker, OP during night prayer.
The commitment of these university students to grow in their Catholic faith relationship with Jesus was truly inspirational. Participating in the BSR included a commitment to meet daily for ½ hour with one’s spiritual director, spend ½ hour in personal prayer, attend daily Mass, enjoy the home-cooked meals each night with the students and directors, avail oneself to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide one’s path in and through interaction with each other, including ice skating! All of this is happening within the student’s regular schedule of classes, papers, assignments, projects, and exams.
Wendy Mitch, campus minister, Fr. Tom Linder, Newman Pastor, and Lee Olsen, secretary, are the support, organization, motivation, and valued presence that made it all happen. The Newman stationary members took turns cooking great meals to keep everyone nourished!
The focus of the retreat was on the message of the Gospel for each day. Students spent time sharing how Jesus was inviting them to find healing in Him (Mark 5:1-20); to discover their source of energy (Mark 5:21-43); to encounter Jesus as others see Him (Mark 6:1-6); to be sent to be a light of His love (Mark 6:7-13); and above all to deepen their relationship with Jesus in His Church! Their response was that of faith in Jesus, hope in His message for their lives, and love for Him through their families, friends, classmates, and for those in need.
Other directers who walked with the students were Father Bob Cook, Diocese of La Crosse; Brother Pat Douglas, SJ; Father Michael Surufka, OFM; Father Patrick Stoffer, OFM Conv.; Sister Bernadine Gutowski, OSF; Sister Deb Weina, SSJ-TOSF, and Sister Marla Land, FSPA.